East Beach Association, experts puzzled over mysterious metal-and-concrete object just offshore

East Beach Association, experts puzzled over mysterious metal-and-concrete object just offshore

The Westerly Sun

WESTERLY — Lodged underwater about 10 feet off the shoreline at low tide at East Beach is a mysterious circular metal object with stainless steel legs that are capped with concrete. It is prompting both intrigue as to its provenance and concern because it presents a hazard to swimmers and body surfers.

Whatever the object is, one thing is clear — it’s very heavy as it appears to stay in place, as if rooted to the bottom of the sea, despite the considerable force of the surf. Peter Brockmann, who is president of the East Beach Association, which cares for the beach, said the association now thinks the object was first discovered last summer but could not be found after an initial spotting. If that’s true, it has withstood a year’s worth of tidal changes, waves, and storms.

“A lot of people are curious about this thing, trying to find out what it is,” Brockmann said during an interview Wednesday.

Brockmann has been studying the mysterious object for about six weeks and is trying to determine its origin. It is about 40 yards west of the Niantic Avenue entrance to the beach.

Brockmann has played the role of detective, snapping photos of the object and sharing them with various agencies and oceanic experts in hopes of determining what it is or is not. At this point, Brockmann said, officials are confident it is not an explosive or an in-use navigational device.

Soon, the association hopes to remove the object from the water.

“We wanted to figure out what it is before we go tugging on it,” Brockmann said.

Brockmann contacted Stonington Harbor Master Eric Donch to see if the object might be related to a commercial fishing endeavor. Donch said no. A U.S. Navy admiral also could not identify it. The folks at Deepwater Wind said the object has nothing to do with their Block Island wind farm.

The best tip came from University of Rhode Island oceanography professors, who told Brockmann they believe the object could be a seafloor mount for an acoustic Doppler current profiler, a device used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to monitor currents and sediment flow during dredging projects. Brockmann believes a significant portion of the device is now buried and not visible.

“So, this could be a derelict acoustic Doppler current profiler seafloor mount but how did it get to the very shallow surf zone on East Beach, and when?” Brockmann said.

Adding to the mystery: Brockmann, the experts he consulted, and The Sun are not aware of any recent or planned dredging projects anywhere near where the object is now located.

The East Beach Association has hired Rocky’s Tree Service of Charlestown to try to pull the object out of the water with a front loader-type machine sometime next week. The company has been used before to remove large pieces of debris that washed up.

“We see a lot of stuff wash up but this been a real mystery,” Brockmann said.

Stay tuned.



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