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Tongue Sands Fort

Official Name

HM Fort Tongue Sands

Code Name

Uncle Three (U3)


51.29.55 North

1.22.11 East

6 nautical miles (6.32 miles) off Margate, Kent


Commissioned 17th June 1942, grounded 27th June 1942

WW2 Military use

Navy Sea Fort

Post WW2 Military use

Decommissioned on 14th February 1945 and reduced to care and maintenance until 1949 when it was abandoned.

Stations Housed

No offshore radio station ever broadcast from Tongue Sands, although Radio Essex briefly considered using the Fort in the summer of 1966

Tongue Sands Fort had settled badly when it was grounded and as a result became unstable. On the 5th December 1947 the Fort shook violently and sections began falling into the sea. The caretaker crew put out a distress call and were rescued by HMS Uplifter. Divers later established that the foundations were solid, but in a later storm the Fort took on a 15 degree list and the 4 remaining men were rescued by Margate Lifeboat.

A Caretaker crew returned, but the Tongue Sands was finally abandoned in 1949 after the pontoon broke its back, flooding the lower levels of the Fort.

Tongue Sands was also briefly considered for use as a Lighthouse by Trinity House, but because of its unstable condition a lightship was moored nearby until the mid-1980's

By the mid 1960s, when Radio Essex examined the possibility of using Tongue Sands as a broadcasting base for the planned Radio Kent, under-scouring had further distorted the Fort, large holes had appeared in east leg, sea water had flooded the lower levels and the platform had become detached with huge gaps between the deck. The Radio Essex team ‘salvaged’ all the valuable cable and metal from the Fort.

Tongue Sands Fort finally collapsed into the under scouring hole during storms on 21st/22nd February 1996, leaving only a single 18 foot stump of the South leg remaining visible above sea level.

Tongue Sands Fort Tongue Sands Fort 1992

Above: Tongue Sands Fort in the early 1960s - one of the legs is already showing signs of distortion

Below: Tongue Sands Fort over 30 years later, in 1992, and the leg distortion has become quite serious

Tongue Sands Fort after collapse 1996

Right: all that remains visible of Tongue Sands Fort after it collapsed in February 1996

Sea Structures

Thanks to Martin van der Ven for allowing us to use some additional information from the Broadcasting Fleet section of the Offshore Radio Guide  in this Gallery


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