Navigation Buoy Found Shot Up and Sunk Near Block Island, Rhode Island

buoy bullet holes
The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis observe a submerged buoy in the water off Block Island, Rhode Island on April 24, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis on Monday discovered a buoy sunk in the water with bullet holes near Block Island, Rhode Island.

The crew was conducting regular aids-to-navigation maintenance when they approached Clay Head buoy number 7 and found it submerged. The crew raised the 12,000-pound buoy and found 20 bullet holes in it.

This photo shows a buoy pierced with bullet holes, Monday, April 24, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard Photo

Due to the damage the buoy had to be taken out of service for repairs. This aid to navigation marks a large rock three feet below the water’s surface.

Ferries frequently transit the area and provide supplies to Block Island. Buoy number 7 is supposed to be a key navigational tool for mariners, and yet it was turned into a navigational hazard.

This is the second aid discovered with bullet holes within a week, the Coast Guard said.

“While it may be fun to use a buoy for target practice, it is a federal crime,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy Chase, the U.S. Coast Guard officer in charge of aids-to-navigation in the vicinity of Block Island. “Buoy number 7 became a navigational hazard that could have easily been struck by a vessel and seriously injured or killed mariners.”

Damaging or tampering with federal aids-to-navigation is a crime and the maximum penalties upon conviction are up to 20 years of imprisonment and as much as $2,500 fine per day for each violation.

The public is being urged to contact the North Shoreham Police Department at 401-466-3220 or the Coast Guard at 401-435-2351 with any information related to this crime.

Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis is a 175-foot buoy tender homeported in Newport, Rhode Island. The crew services more than 200 buoys annually in southeastern New England.