Cruising sailor, Professor Dr. Daniel Steenstra got quite the shock when he discovered an unexploded bomb attached to his anchor in Croatia


A Dutch cruising couple were forced to abandon their brand new anchor and chain off the port of Pula, northern Croatia, after they discovered they were entangled with an unexploded bomb.

Experienced cruisers Daniel Steenstra and his wife employed a diver to find out why they were unable to weigh anchor after a night in North Harbour, Pula. The diver reported seeing a large cylindrical object rising from the seabed, approximately 2m in diameter, which the authorities then confirmed to be an unexploded Allied bomb that had been dropped during World War II.

Pula Harbour was a German submarine base during World War II and was attacked heavily as a result, but it is now a busy sailing hub with hundreds of charter yachts based at multiple marinas in the area. Steenstra is concerned there was little action by the authorities once the discovery was made.

“We feel very lucky,” he reported. “We lost a brand new anchor but if that bomb had gone off, we might not be around to tell the tale. The gravity of the situation extended beyond personal loss, as the presence of the bomb endangered other sailors in the area. Despite reporting the hazardous discovery to local police and military forces, no action was taken. Disturbingly, local authorities failed to issue any warnings through channels such as VHF Radio Rijeka.”

Authorities all over Europe respond to unexploded ordnance on a regular basis; according to a BBC report the British Ministry of Defence is called upon to deal with 60 World War II bombs on land each year. They have also been discovered in the sea: in December 2020 a 15m crab fishing vessel in the North Sea disturbed a German bomb, which exploded injuring all five crew on board.

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