HMF Rough, HMF Sunk Head, HMF Knock John and HMF Tongue Sand, known as 'His Majesty's Forts', were built by the Navy and originally had a complement of about 100 men who were assigned to them before deployment. These were designed as a reinforced concrete pontoon measuring 168 by 88 feet supporting two hollow cylindrical towers, 24 feet in diameter, which were topped by a gun deck, an upper deck and a central tower unit which controlled radar equipment. They were constructed in harbour and on completion were towed into position by three tugs and then sunk, leaving only the large diameter towers and platform showing above sea level. They were operable within 30 minutes of 'launching'. The tower 'legs' were divided into seven floors, providing accommodation and storage areas. There was a steel framework at one end supporting a landing jetty and crane which was used to hoist supplies aboard. [Souce]
The sinking of H.M. Fort "Tongue Sands" took place on June 27th 1942.
During a severe storm in February 1996, the Tongue Sand Naval Fort broke up and fell into the sea leaving just 18ft of the northern leg still exposed.
When Radio Essex was on the air, money was very short on the station. One day Dick Palmer heard that the Tongue Fort was in good condition and he decided to go over there to see what was on the fort.
Having arrived there they found an enormous amount of copper wiring and lead flashing which, after being melted down, would provide a considerable amount of money for Radio Essex.
He then started a fire to melt down the copper piping and the smoke was noticed by someone on land who then called the Coast Guard who sent out a helicopter from Manston. It landed and asked what was going on. Dick explained that they were trying to recover lead and copper from the fort. The helicopter left quite happily after a short time.
They carried on burning the copper piping and the lead flashing. During the night another person notified the Coast Guard that a fire appeared to be burning on the Tongue Fort.
A lifeboat then arrived with a pretty pissed off crew who asked Dick what he was doing. Dick told them that they were starting another pirate radio station. The lifeboat coxswain asked which station it was. Dick, thinking quickly, said it was "Radio Albatross" and the lifeboat then departed.
Subsequent to this, the information was passed onto the authorities and questions were asked in our House of Parliament as to what was being done to prevent the spread of the offshore radio stations.
So there you have it from the horses mouth, the truth about Radio Albatross and the circumstances that surrounded it. I am not sure if the truth about Radio Albatross has ever been published before. [Story by John S. Platt]
Location: Thames Estuary (51.29.55 North 1.22.11 East)