©   2014-2023 Offshore Radio Museum

Home Basement Ground Floor 1 Floor 2

Roughs Tower/Sealand

Official Name

H M Fort Roughs Tower

Code Name

Uncle One (U1)

Location North East

6 nautical miles (6.9 miles) off Felixstowe, Suffolk


11th February 1942

WW2 Military use

Navy Sea Fort

Post WW2 Military use

Decommissioned on 14th February 1945 Roughs Fort was reduced to care and maintenance until 1956 when it was abandoned.

Stations Housed

Roughs Tower was never used to house an offshore station, but a number of broadcasting plans (which came to nothing), existed when it became the Principality of Sealand

On 11th August  1965 Jack Moore and his daughter Jane, acting on behalf of Radio Caroline, boarded Roughs Fort on the pretext of implementing a project to turn it into a fun palace and health complex – probably a cover story for using the Fort in some way more directly related to the operation of Radio Caroline. During their occupation the top house of the Fort was cut away to create a helicopter landing pad.

Radio Caroline then left the Fort unattended for a while and former Radio Essex/BBMS owner, Roy Bates claimed it in December 1966, shortly after his station had closed.

A battle then began over the occupancy of Roughs - while it was unattended briefly by Bates a boarding party from Radio Caroline re-took the Fort, but they were forcibly  removed again by Roy Bates and his crew.

Radio Caroline had plans to use Roughs as a supply base (or even to replace the Mi Amigo as a broadcasting base) once the Marine Etc Broadcasting (Offences) Act had come into effect.

On 27th June 1967 Radio Caroline dispatched a team of raiders on the tender Offshore II from Harwich to get Roy Bates off Roughs Tower. A battle ensued and as one man tried to board petrol bombs and missiles were thrown at him and he was left clinging to the ladder as the Offshore 2 pulled away. Walton-on-Naze lifeboat later went out and rescued the man and although police intervened no charges were ever brought.

Roughs Tower as Sealand Roughs Tower being grounded 1942

Top: Roughs Tower as Sealand

Centre: Roughs Tower being grounded, February 1942

Bottom:  Shortly after grounding completed, 1942

Roy Bates remained in occupation of Roughs Tower and began converting it into living accommodation for himself and his family.

On 2nd September 1967 Roughs Tower was declared the Independent Principality of Sealand.

In 2000 an American group invested in Sealand Wcreating a data haven - HavenCo.

No radio station ever actually broadcast from Roughs Tower, but over the years plans have included a television station, a Top 40 station (which nearly launched in the 1980's), and two FM radio stations.

On 23rd June 2006 a generator caught fire causing major damage to the Fort

On 9th January 2007 – Michael Bates (son of Roy Bates) announced that Sealand was seeking financial investors for future developments.


Sea Structures

Thanks to Martin van der Ven for allowing us to use some additional information from the Broadcasting Fleet section of the Offshore Radio Guide  in this Gallery

          Back                                                                                         Next

Where       next ?

 Floor 2

Back to

Floor 2 Back to   index Sea Structures Index


Sealand 1