Fishing tug nets missile

April 24, 1991
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SHEBOYGAN, Wis. -- A fishing boat's unusual catch, which had been left sitting on a dock for about a week, turned out to be a Sidewinder missile with a live warhead.

A two-member Army ordnance disposal team from Fort Sheridan, Ill., examined the missile early Wednesday and then took it with them.

Police Capt. John Theune said the 8-foot-long Sidewinder was snagged last week in a net while the fishing tug was 8 miles out fishing on Lake Michigan. He said officials had no idea where the missile came from or how it got into the lake.

'We're just glad it's out of here,' Theune said.

'They said it was a Sidewinder missile with the rocket motor burned out but with the warhead intact,' he said. 'It turns out the fishing tug dragged this in about a week ago and it's been sitting down there on the dock.'

Police were notified about the rocket Tuesday night and contacted the ordnance disposal unit after first trying the Milwaukee bomb squad, which directed them to Fort Sheridan.

Theune said the disposal team told police the missile could have exploded. The team had police cordon off the area, restrict radio transmissions and lights in the area, and loaded the missle to take it back to Fort Sheridan.

Asked how he felt when he learned the warhead was live and the missile had been sitting on the dock about five blocks southeast of the downtown business district, Theune said, 'I felt kind of scared.'

In the meantime, Theune said, a restaurant owner came forward with a 4-foot rocket he had found in the lake. Theune said the disposal team examined it and said it was a practice rocket with an inert warhead, though they couldn't tell if the rocket motor was intact. They took it with them as well.

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