Ten days before the Principality of Sealand was declared independent on the fortress ‘Roughs Tower’, the British government moved aggressively to prevent a repeat situation, and send a clear message to the Bates family. The Royal Navy, along with the Royal Engineers, were tasked with blowing up the Sunk Head Fortress – the only other fort located in international waters.
Several helicopters and a tug were dispatched to bring down the fort, using over a tonne of explosives. Prince Michael, who watched the entire operation from Sealand with his mother and sister, recalls the incident: “Helicopters clattered away over the top of the fort, while a tug positioned itself below to unload men and explosives. When detonated, lumps of concrete and steel flew hundreds of feet in the air, some landing half a mile away from the explosion. We felt the shockwaves from Sealand, and they were reportedly felt from the UK coast. Debris from the wooden bunks, fittings, and interior accommodation floated past for several days after. Going out of their way to Sail extremely close to Sealand, Engineers on the navy tug ‘Collie’ shouted up to us: ‘YOU’RE NEXT!’. The following day in the UK, my father picked up a newspaper to find the headline: ‘NAVY BLOW UP ROUGHS TOWER’. Being the sixties, we had no day to day communication, so god knows what went through his mind knowing his family were out there”. It would be several hours before he discovered that the newspaper had named the wrong fort.
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