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The 1963-1975 Lyme Bay Biological Warfare Experiments
09-26-2007, 09:00 PM, (This post was last modified: 09-26-2007, 09:03 PM by lymebay.)
The 1963-1975 Lyme Bay Biological Warfare Experiments
Back in 1997, residents living on the south coast of the UK discovered that, during the Cold War, military scientists from the Microbiological Research Establishment, Porton Down had used their area to conduct numerous germ warfare experiments.

The following information has been obtained by local residents during a ten year investigation. As the MOD are not forthcoming about their current public area BW research programme, this investigation is ongoing.

During the early 1960s, scientists from the Microbiological Research Establishment (MRE), Porton Down were tasked to investigate the feasibility of Large Area Coverage (LAC) Biological Warfare attack.

It was quickly realised that the Porton Range (area 7,000 acres) was far too small to be used in any of these proposed experiments. The Director of the MRE Porton Down, Dr D W Henderson, then suggested that spraying the bacteria at sea and detecting the resulting aerosol cloud inland might be a successful operational method, and so a search began for a suitable trials site in the UK.

[Image: LymeBayTrialsArea.jpg]

According to declassified MRE Porton Down documents (notably MRE Field Trial Report No 3), South Dorset was eventually selected as the trials site because it met with three important, and still valid, requirements.

(1) Lyme Bay is semi-circular (radius 25-30 miles) which allows the use of any wind direction between 070 through south to 280 degrees.

(2) It has a nearby dockyard (Portland Naval Base, now Portland Port PLC) which facilitated the spray ship.

(3) It is only 50 miles from the laboratories of Porton Down, which enabled overnight examination of radioactively labelled antibody samples.

A suitable base for the mobile laboratory (codename Night Ferry) and control vehicle (Golden Arrow) was found at Fleet, a few miles west of Weymouth. This base was Crown Property and overlooked the main trials area, Lyme Bay. The nearby Moonfleet Hotel provided accommodation for the MRE Porton scientists.

[Image: ICEWHALE.jpg]

On 14th November 1963, the Experimental Trials Vessel ICEWHALE slipped from Portland Naval Base and sailed around Portland Bill to Lyme Bay. At 13:19 Porton scientists started the spraying apparatus and for the next 33 minutes the ETV ICEWHALE sailed in a straight line across Lyme Bay, disseminating a massive aerosol cloud of live bacteria from its stern. During this first trial ,the ETV ICEWHALE sprayed 108 litres of bacterial suspension. By the end of the first trials season (October 1963- April 1964), the amount of bacterial suspension used in each trial had risen to 488 litres.

The spray suspension consisted of two types of bacteria. The first, Bacillus subtilis var niger (also known as Bacillus globigii or BG), had been often used by Porton Down either as a simulant for anthrax or as a tracer organism. It was sprayed in its spore form in order to ensure survivability.

In December 1997, John Chisholm, Chief Executive of the Defence Evaluation Research Agency (DERA, a part of the Ministry of Defence) admitted that “BG may cause disease in immunocompromised people.”.

The strain of BG used in these experiments was obtained from the US Army Biological Warfare Laboratory at Fort Detrick. In May 1998, Dr John Reid, then Minister of State for the Armed Forces admitted that staff at Porton Down had been unable to find evidence of routine toxicity testing of the imported BG prior to its use in these experiments!

The second type of bacteria that was used was E.coli MRE162. This organism was isolated from a toilet at Porton Down during 1949, and given the MRE culture collection number 162.

Both types of bacteria were sprayed in live form and were designed to be the same size as real Biological Warfare (BW) agents- between 1- 5 microns. This size is used in BW to ensure that the bacteria bypass the body’s natural defences and reach the deepest parts of the lungs, the alveoli, where they can more easily cause infection.

These supposedly 'harmless' bacteria (known as simulants) were used instead of live BW agents. It was later revealed that both types of simulants were capable of causing disease in certain individuals.

[Image: LymeBayplumemap01resize.jpg][Image: LymeBayplumemap02resize.jpg][Image: LymeBayplumemap03resize.jpg][Image: LymeBayplumemap04resize.jpg]

[Image: LymeBayplumemap05resize.jpg][Image: LymeBayplumemap06resize.jpg][Image: LymeBayplumemap07resize.jpg][Image: LymeBayplumemap08resize.jpg]

Above are still frames from an animation which demonstrate the field trials procedure - the red cloud represents the 'massive crosswind line release' (Porton's description) of bacteria.

As you can see the spray ship (TEV ICEWHALE) sailed a straight line cross-wind track across Lyme Bay, all the while spraying bacteria from equipment mounted on its stern. The resulting massive (Porton’s own description) bacterial aerosol cloud was carried onshore by the prevailing wind - where mobile teams of Porton scientists attempted to sample the cloud as it travelled up to 50 miles inland.

More to follow.


8. The substance to be dispersed will be silicone-treated F.P. (zinc cadmium sulphide). This substance is quite innocuous in the concentrations that will occur near the ground, and the cloud will moreover be so diffuse that members of the public will be oblivious of its presence. - CDEE Porton Down Instructions for the 1964 Norwich Biological Warfare experiments (Porton Programme Report 2/64)&
09-26-2007, 11:22 PM,
The 1963-1975 Lyme Bay Biological Warfare Experiments
The first Lyme Bay Trials ‘season’ ran from October 1963 to April 1964 - the dates of each experiment was as follows

Field Trial Dates

1 22 October 1963
2 23 October 1963
3 14 November 1963
4 15 November 1963
5 4 December 1963
6 5 December 1963
7 7 January 1964
8 10 January 1964
9 27 January 1964
10 29 January 1964
11 27 February 1964
12 12 March 1964
13 8 April 1964
14 24 April 1964

Below is the official map of the BW experiments conducted by MRE scientists during the 1963-64 ‘season‘ [source MRE Field Trial Report No 3]

The straight lines indicate the track of the spray ship; the numbers on land indicate the location of the sampling positions.

[Image: LymeBayTrials1963-64.jpg]

The page below shows the sampling locations that were used for each separate field trial [Nos. 1-14]

[Image: MRENo3samplinglocations.jpg]

Air samples obtained by the mobile sampling teams were plated out onto dishes containing bacterial nutrient. These dishes were then incubated in the mobile laboratory - codename NIGHT FERRY - and the resulting number of bacterial colonies were counted the following day. The results of this process were used to give a crude indication of both: the dosage received by persons exposed to the bacterial cloud, and the viability of the bacteria over increasing distances of travel (i.e. the survivability of the organism to long distance travel).

The clandestine nature of these experiments, which were in effect Biological Warfare attacks (albeit using simulated BW agents), is demonstrated in the official instructions (see Item 5 below) given to the Porton scientists who acted as Samplers during each field trial.

[Image: FTRNo1SamplersInstructions.jpg]

<span style="color:#33FF33">"5. Security. If anyone asks you what you are doing in the field the only permissible answer is that you are sampling atmospheric pollution for meteorological research. A persistent questioner may be viewed with suspicion but told nothing further. You must not describe your activities to any one e.g. colleagues, friends, relatives etc.” [source - MRE Field Trial Report No 1, Appendix 1]

Add to the above the fact that, as a matter of necessity, all the trials were conducted during the hours of darkness and you have a source for local rumour which would echo down the years.

More to follow.


8. The substance to be dispersed will be silicone-treated F.P. (zinc cadmium sulphide). This substance is quite innocuous in the concentrations that will occur near the ground, and the cloud will moreover be so diffuse that members of the public will be oblivious of its presence. - CDEE Porton Down Instructions for the 1964 Norwich Biological Warfare experiments (Porton Programme Report 2/64)&
10-02-2007, 02:49 PM,
The 1963-1975 Lyme Bay Biological Warfare Experiments
MRE Porton Down scientists returned to the Lyme Bay area during Autumn (Fall) 1964, in order to commence their second field trials ‘season’.

During this second trials season, Porton greatly expanded the trials area, which now made use of the whole of Lyme Bay and surrounding countryside (see thread Millions were in germ war tests)The resulting bacterial aerosol clouds, generated from a ship sailing either in Lyme or Weymouth Bay, were detected as far west as the edge of Dartmoor in Devon, and as far east as Ringwood in Hampshire. Although one has to bear in mind that the bacterial clouds obviously travelled much further than those limited sampling locations chosen by Porton scientists. Earlier Porton experiments had proved that similar particulate clouds would easily travel 200 miles from source.

[Image: LymeBay1964-65.jpg]

[Image: MRENo4samplinglocations.jpg]
[Image: MRENo4samplinglocations001.jpg]

[source MRE Field Trial Report No 4]

As you can see, this newly expanded trials area exposed much larger numbers of the public to Porton’s massive BW simulant clouds (E.coli MRE162 and BG spores - both live).

In 1966, the scale and number of field trials was much reduced. This was due in part to the unsatisfactory performance, during previous trials, of the spray ship -ETV ICEWHALE. By 1966, the ICEWHALE was reported to be incapable of sailing at a speed of more than 5 knots! Concern had also been expressed about the suitability of this vessel as it was thought its diesel engine exhaust, which was located adjacent to the spray equipment, might have had a deleterious effect on the bacterial simulants.

In the end only four field trials were conducted during the 1966 season (see trials maps below). [source - MRE Field Trials Report No 5]

[Image: LymeBayTrials1966Trial13February196.jpg]

[Image: LymeBayTrials1966Trial26February196.jpg]

[Image: LymeBayTrials1966Trial324February19.jpg]

[Image: LymeBayTrials1966Trial426April1966.jpg]

More to follow

lymebay :icon_mrgreen:

8. The substance to be dispersed will be silicone-treated F.P. (zinc cadmium sulphide). This substance is quite innocuous in the concentrations that will occur near the ground, and the cloud will moreover be so diffuse that members of the public will be oblivious of its presence. - CDEE Porton Down Instructions for the 1964 Norwich Biological Warfare experiments (Porton Programme Report 2/64)&
10-03-2007, 01:18 AM,
The 1963-1975 Lyme Bay Biological Warfare Experiments
During the previous years field trials (1963-1965), MRE scientists had noticed an occasional loss of viability in collected samples of E.coli MRE 162. This deleterious effect was named the Open Air Factor by Porton scientists), and it was decided that a suitable method of protecting biological agents from the OAF was needed. In order to test the efficiency of a new protective substance (codename -S3), a series of public area field trials were conducted during November 1967 - January 1968.

The procedure for the OAF field trials was for a spray ship to sail a straight-line cross-wind track all the time spraying a suspension of E.coli MRE162 and BG. As before, this bacterial aerosol was later sampled as it travelled inland. As soon as possible the ship sailed a reciprocal course, but this time spraying a suspension of E.coli MRE162 which had been coated with a substance known as S3 along with spores of BG.

Ten trials in total were made during this period - five groups of two trials (one unprotected, one coated with S3 per group). The relevant maps can be seen below. [source MRE Field Trial Report No 6]

[Image: LymeBayTrials1967Trial17November196.jpg]

[Image: LymeBayTrials1967Trial1A7November19.jpg]

[Image: LymeBayTrials1967Trial212November19.jpg]

[Image: LymeBayTrials1967Trial2A12November1.jpg]

[Image: LymeBayTrials1967Trial31December196.jpg]

[Image: LymeBayTrials1967Trial3A1December19.jpg]

[Image: LymeBayTrials1967Trial420January196.jpg]

[Image: LymeBayTrials1967Trial4A20January19.jpg]

[Image: LymeBayTrials1967Trial522January196.jpg]

[Image: LymeBayTrials1967Trial5A22January19.jpg]

The discovery (in 1998) of these trials led to increased public demand that the UK Government should hold a Public Inquiry - the remit of which would investigate the purpose, conduct and full extent of the UK BW Public Area experimentation programme.

Needless to mention, the UK Government ignored these initial public demands. :icon_rolleyes:

Until, of course, it became public knowledge that the UK Government had invited the United States Army and Air Force over to the UK, and be actively involved in the 1971 and 1975 field trials ‘season’! :icon_eek::icon_eek:

More to follow.

lymebay :icon_mrgreen:

8. The substance to be dispersed will be silicone-treated F.P. (zinc cadmium sulphide). This substance is quite innocuous in the concentrations that will occur near the ground, and the cloud will moreover be so diffuse that members of the public will be oblivious of its presence. - CDEE Porton Down Instructions for the 1964 Norwich Biological Warfare experiments (Porton Programme Report 2/64)&
11-17-2007, 04:53 PM,
The 1963-1975 Lyme Bay Biological Warfare Experiments
<span style="color:#FFFF00">The Collaborative United Kingdom/United States BW Detection Experiments

During the late 1960s, MRE Porton Down scientists concentrated their research on the development of a reliable Biological Warfare agent detection system. After experimenting with various detection methods, including very early LIDAR experiments (using the Icing Tanker Aircraft - Canberra WV787 as the source aircraft), Porton settled on improving their Radioactively-labelled Antibody Technique (RAST).

By August 1970, the issue of providing UK military establishments with a BW early warning detection system became ever more urgent, with the result that the UK Chiefs of Staff issued an order for Porton Down to conduct a Feasibility Study on Naval General Air Staff Target 3083. This Staff Target - <span style="color:#FFFF00">“requires a comparison of current UK and US Research and Development, identification of the best system for UK forces and a study of the threat of biological operations“. Unfortunately for the Chiefs of Staff, the current science was still a long way from being able to provide a reliable BW agent detector.

[Image: LymeBayUSUKTRIALSAREA.jpg]
The 1971/1975 Collaborative UK/US Detections Trials Area

As the US Army and US Navy were also developing their own different BW agent detectors, it was considered prudent to ask the US to come over to the UK and participate in joint BW detection experiments. During the early months of 1971, the US were approached and, after securing broad agreement on the conduct of the field trials, agreed to bring to the UK a number of different BW detection devices.

By November 1971, military scientists from Porton Down and the United States has assembled, with their numerous mobile laboratories and generators, at the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment compound at Portland Bill, near Weymouth, Dorset. This particular location (which overlooked Lyme Bay) had been chosen to enable the prototype BW detection devices to be challenged in a maritime environment.

[Image: ariel_view_north12.jpg]

[Image: ariel_view_north21.jpg]

Two aerial views of the 1971/1975 BW detection Trials Area. The Isle of Portland, Dorset, is in the foreground, with Lyme Bay just being visible on the left of the island. The town of Weymouth and the surrounding Dorset countryside is in the left background, with the smaller Weymouth Bay to the right.

On 15 November, the trials ship - ETV ICEWHALE - once again slipped from the nearby Portland Royal Navy Base and headed for Lyme Bay. On reaching its start position, the ICEWHALE sailed a straight-line track, spraying a massive amount of bacterial suspension from it’s stern. This suspension contained both live and killed bacteria (live Bacillus subtilis var niger and Inactivated Serratia marcescens aka ISM). On a few occasions, so-called ‘blank’ spray runs (using only a sea water and 0.5% Phenol mix) were made to act as a control.

Over the next ten days, 24 separate spray runs were made, with the massive source being laid either in Weymouth Bay or Lyme Bay. On all occasions, the target for these ‘attacks’ was the Isle of Portland, Dorset.

[Image: LymeBayUKUS1971Trial2Challenge61611.jpg]

[Image: LymeBayUKUS1971Trial4Challenge12-1.jpg]

[Image: LymeBayUKUS1971Trial5Challenge13224.jpg]

[Image: LymeBayUKUS1971Trial6Challenge15251.jpg]

The 1971 Collaborative UK/US BW Detection experiments were conducted on the following dates.

Serial Date Simulant or blank

1 15 November 1971 ISM/BG

2 “ ISM/BG

3 “ Phenol

4 “ ISM/BG

5 “ Phenol

6 16 November 1971 ISM/BG

7 “ Phenol

8 17 November 1971 ISM/BG

9 “ Phenol

10 “ ISM/BG

11 “ ISM/BG

12 20 November 1971 ISM/BG

13 24 November 1971 ISM/BG

14 “ ISM/BG

15 25 November 1971 ISM/BG

16 “ ISM/BG

As you can see, on some occasions as many as 4 or 5 separate BW ’attacks’ were made on the Isle of Portland (and surrounding countryside) each day!. At the time, the population of Portland was circa 12,000 (not including the two prisons or Portland Naval Base). During the day, this number was increased by the arrival of 500+ staff from the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment (AUWE).

Once the results of the experiments had been analysed, Porton recommended that the US Army Chemiluminescent Mark 2 device should be adopted for the development of a non-specific BW agent detector. For specific identification purposes it was recommended that the UK’s RAST system should be adopted as the basis of the system. The combination of these two devices was thought to provide a reliable BW agent detection system - the US providing early warning of a BW attack and the UK providing accurate identification of the type of bacteria present in the BW aerosol.

Four years later, the US, were again invited by the MOD to participate in similar public area BW Detection experiments. The US were at the time conducting clandestine background air sampling experiments across southeast England. These experiments were known as the DICE Trials. A later phase of DICE involved the clandestine sampling of background air at various locations in Germany. Neither of these phases of DICE involved the release of bacteria.

Unlike the third phase of DICE!

Not a lot of information is available about this third phase, except for the fact that 24 releases of bacteria were conducted from Lyme and Weymouth Bays between 29 September and 21 October 1975. The massive bacterial clouds, released from a Land Rover strapped to the deck of Fleet Tender COCKCHAFER, contained Inactivated Serratia marcescens (ISM) and live Bacillus subtilis.

Even though 32 years have passed, Dstl Porton Down still refuse to release any further information about these experiments, which exposed Dorset residents to yet more massive bacterial aerosols.

Of even greater interest is the fact that, in 1998, the MOD ‘forgot’ to inform Professor Spratt about the 1975 UK/US experiments, even though they had commissioned him, in 1998, to conduct an Independent Review of possible adverse health effects suffered by those exposed to the ‘Dorset Defence Experiments‘. Professor Spratt has since expressed surprise and dismay that the MOD kept information from him.

more to follow........

8. The substance to be dispersed will be silicone-treated F.P. (zinc cadmium sulphide). This substance is quite innocuous in the concentrations that will occur near the ground, and the cloud will moreover be so diffuse that members of the public will be oblivious of its presence. - CDEE Porton Down Instructions for the 1964 Norwich Biological Warfare experiments (Porton Programme Report 2/64)&

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