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.
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.