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Beaufort's Dyke is the sea trench between Northern Ireland and Scotland within the North Channel. The dyke is 50 km long, 3.5 km wide and 200–300 metres deep.
Because of its depth and its proximity to the Cairnryan military port, it became the United Kingdom's largest offshore dump site for conventional and chemical munitions after the Second World War; in July 1945, 14,500 tons of 5-inch artillery rockets filled with phosgene were dumped in Beaufort's Dyke.
Munitions have subsequently been washed up on beaches in the area. In particular, in 1995, incendiary devices were discovered on the Scottish and Northern Irish coasts. This coincided with the laying of the Scottish Northern Ireland Pipeline (SNIP), a 24-inch gas interconnector being constructed by British Gas.
Following the First World War Hurd's Deep was used by the British Government as a dumping ground for both chemical and conventional munitions. The SMS Baden was scuttled there in 1921. Following the Second World War it was used to dump military equipment, munitions and weaponry left behind by the ousted German invaders of the Channel Islands.
Hurd's Deep is the final resting place of HMS Affray which sank in 1951.
Routine dumping of British munitions carried on until 1974.
Between 1946 and 1973 the area was also used for the dumping of low and intermediate level radioactive wastes.