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The Maunsell Naval Sea Forts were designed to provide anti-aircraft defense in the Thames estuary after the Luftwaffe began their raids on London in 1940. The Thames estuary was not as heavily defended as Dover and the south coast and therefore presented a much easier approach to London for German bombing raids.
Tongue Sands, the last of the four Naval Sea Forts, was constructed at a disused cement works on the south bank of the Thames between Northfleet and Gravesend on the Kent Coast. Access to the Thames was therefore immediately available. The forts were constructed in dry dock then floated out to their designated site in the Thames Estuary and grounded.
The defence of the forts consisted of four guns, primarily two 3.7" AA guns and two Bofors guns. The magazines were in the supports of the fort, well beneath sea level. A radar unit was housed on the very top of the fort, allowing the defending crew to monitor the Thames Estuary and mount their defence on sighting a Luftwaffe raid.
All the forts were abandoned by the Navy in the late 1940's. Tongue Sands was used briefly from 1965 - 1967 as a base for a pirate radio station before being abandoned in favour of another Naval Sea Fort further out to sea and therefore out of the reachof the jurisdiction of the British Government. In June 1992 the RAF finally removed the four guns on Fort Knock John. In February 1996 a overnight storm caused Tongue Sands to collapse into the sea. You can find Tongue's "A" gun at New Tavern Fort Gravesend.
This page shows the removing the 3.7 inch heavy anti-aircraft guns from Tongue Sands Thames navy sea fort.
Location: The Thames
Condition: At the bottom of the sea bed
Date Of Visit: N/A
More Info: Project Redsand
Other Sites in the Area:
View of Tongue sands from a chinook.
Preparations being made to remove the guns.
Can’t have been fun with all the bird crap.
Cutting the gun away.
Stabilising the loose gun.
Putting winch gear round the gun.
Gun being lifted from mount.
Crew being airlifted in.
Aerial view of the fort after the removal of the guns.