Navigational buoys shot up, sunk near Block Island

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis observe a submerged buoy in the water off Block Island on April 24, 2017. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Patrick Morkis)

NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. (WPRI) — Someone is using navigational buoys near Block Island for target practice.

The Coast Guard said Wednesday that it found two buoys near the island riddled with bullets within the last week. On Monday, the crew of a Coast Guard cutter discovered a 12,000-pound buoy sunk off Clay Head. When the crew raised it out of the water, the Coast Guard said crews found 20 bullet holes in it.

This photo shows a buoy pierced with bullet holes, Monday, April 24, 2017, off the coast of Block Island. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Patrick Morkis)

The Clay Head buoy marks the location of a large rock just under the surface of the water, according to the Coast Guard. Ferries to and from Block Island, along with other vessels, frequently travel near it.

“While it may be fun to use a buoy for target practice, it is a federal crime,” Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy Chase said in a news release. “[The buoy] became a navigational hazard that could have easily been struck by a vessel and seriously injured or killed mariners.”

According to the Coast Guard, anyone convicted of tampering with navigational buoys could face up to 20 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.