The Torpedo Platform in Antrim Bay can be viewed from Antrim Lough Shore Park. It was constructed during the early years of the Second World War so that the 'Mark 8 Thermal' torpedoes from the nearby Torpedo Factory could be tested for accuracy of direction and depth. Testing was stopped after a few years as the accumulation of sand deposits caused problems. As well as the launching platform this construction contained sleeping quarters together with a kitchen and food stores in case weather conditions prevented personnel returning to their land base.
Today the only 'lodgers' are birds such as the common tern and the cormorant. The largest colony of common terms on Lough Neagh use the remains of the platform as their summer residence. It provides a safe breeding place for these birds before they fly away, in August, to their winter home off the West Coast of Africa.
Common terns spend the winter in west and southern Africa, coming to Lough Neagh in April and leaving in August. Lough Neagh attracts these birds because the large expanse of water offers feeding opportunities. Unfortunately, suitable nesting areas on Lough Neagh are rare. This is because the Lough has very few islands, and most of those that do exist are tree covered.
The Northern Ireland Environment Agency currently manages Padian Island and the Torpedo Platform near Antrim as nature reserves for common tern. NIEA also monitor a small population on Phil Roe’s Flat.
Those exploring the Lough by boat are asked to give the platform a wide berth to avoid disturbing the birds during the breeding season. Disturbances should be reported to NIEA on 028 3885 3950.
The Grid Reference for the Platform is J129868.
NB. This map is based on the postcode and so may not reflect the exact location.
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