Where in the World are You?...Maunsell Sea Forts; The United Kingdom
Where in the World are You?
I know personally when I first came across these monstrosities they reminded me of something from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Backs, I believe they were called At-Ats. Except these are not some futuristic means of mobile combat, no these were actually built in the 1940’s for an entirely different reason. After putting down an attack from a Sea Lion, the nation where these were installed opted for a much more static option for their defense.
These structures were constructed of steel and concrete in dry-dock then floated out and sunk on sandbanks in two major river estuaries. Seven of these maritime facilities were constructed to serve the Empire; surprisingly they served their purpose quite effectively. I say surprisingly because about two years earlier a different example of the static defense method was mockingly overrun, making those that put their faith in it look ridiculous (as if they needed any help).
When these fortifications were no longer needed they were decommissioned and have since gone on to serve many other purposes than the one for which they were intended. A few of the originals have since been destroyed one meeting its end at the hands of Baalbeck, others having been hit by ships, and one succumbing to a storm in 1996.
In the 1960’s these former fortifications served an all-together different purpose, acting as the staging platforms for several illegally broadcast radio stations. They were perfect for this purpose, they are the tallest structures in the area and when an antenna is attached to the top of one of the towers it serves as an excellent antenna tower.
Finally, one of the former fortifications serves as an unrecognized sovereign state, a very small nation. The family that established and populates this “nation” has gone so far as to mint coins, sell postage stamps, issued passports, and been “represented” by athletes participating in sporting events. The “nation” was offered for sale from 2007-2010 for around $1 billion USD. So…Where in the World are You?
The Maunsell Sea Forts were developed for Great Britain during World War Two by Guy Maunsell, placed in the estuaries of the Thames and the Mersey rivers they served as observation and anti-aircraft fixtures. Built in dry-dock and then floated out and sank on sand bars, they were fitted with 3.75-inch guns and 40mm Bofors guns; they were credited with shooting down 22 aircraft and over 30 of Hitler’s flying bombs. The forts were decommissioned in the 1950’s and have since been repurposed, some as installations for pirate radio stations in the 1960’s and one has even been established as an unrecognized sovereign nation called the Principality of Sealand.
The Principality of Sealand was established by a former British Major Paddy Roy Bates and has been officially been recognized as a sovereign nation by a legitimate nation, which evidently is a requirement for legitimacy. Still, the Principality of Sealand has soldiered on since, coining its own money, producing postage stamps, issuing passports, and even hosted an offshore internet hosting site. Sealand frequently sponsors athletes and athletic teams that participate in legitimate sporting events, participating in events such as mini-golf, football (soccer for us Americans), fencing, and something called table football (I’m thinking something similar to foosball); Sealand’s fencing squad is evidently based at UC Irvine.
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