Friday, June 08, 2007
Sunbathers on a Cornish beach had a Dutch Navy ship for company after the vessel's crew made a mess of their landing exercise and become beached on a sandbar. The vessel landed at Pentewan beach near St Austell, Cornwall and proved an instant attraction, with holidaymakers setting up picnics and children building sandcastles just yards away. Photographer Charles Francis, 61, who lives in nearby Heligan, spotted the beached ship and captured the strange scene. He said: "This landing went wrong when one of their craft beached on a sandbar which is not usually present. "Pentewan Beach is normally very flat and is sometimes used in the winter months as a good beach on which British marines can practise amphibious landings."But the river can change its course, and it had thrown up a sandbar just where they'd come in to land. "It was stuck on the sandbanks and the crew seemed to be having a day off, really, just sunbathing on the beach because they couldn't do whatever there were meant to do. "People carried on as if it wasn't there. It was sunny there were quite a few people." Local authorities will hope beached ships do not become too familiar over the next few days - passing sailors have been warned that the Ministry of Defence are testing GPS-jamming equipment in the South West which could interfere with navigational equipment. Mr Francis took a note of the Dutch vessel's identification number and checked it out on the internet. He said: "It was under 'Landing Craft - Marine Corps' within the Royal Netherlands Navy." A spokesman for the Dutch embassy said they were unaware of the incident.