Royal Navy Divers Blow Up Two Wartime Bombs Off UK
Royal Navy divers from Portsmouth blew up two wartime pieces of ordnance off the Kent coast on Easter Sunday. The team from Southern Diving Unit 2 successfully dealt with a German GC mine off Sheerness and a 1,000lb Allied bomb off Margate.
The German GC mine, usually dropped by parachute and containing some 1500 pounds of high explosive, was caught in the nets of a fishing vessel and then placed on the sea bed off Sheerness to be dealt with by the Navy’s bomb disposal experts.
In an operation coordinated with Kent police, Coastguard and Medway Port Control officers, the Portsmouth-based divers brought the mine to the surface using an air bag and towed it, using a rigid inflatable boat, to a location some six miles east of Sheerness and two miles off Warden Point, Isle of Sheppey.
A one-mile safety zone was established around the operation for other boat traffic.
A first attempt to destroy the mine was thwarted when the countermining charge misfired, but the team succeeded at the second attempt just after 9am on Easter Day.
The mine exploded with a “high order” detonation, meaning that the original high explosive content itself blew up when the countermining charge was initiated.
The four-man Navy team from Southern Diving Unit 2 (SDU2) on Horsea Island in Portsmouth, was led by Petty Officer Diver John O’Brien. Their work regularly involves clearance of WW2 ordnance from the beaches and waters around the southern and eastern part of England.
“Due to the amount of high explosive in the mine, which posed a significant risk to public safety, it was necessary for the mine to be lifted and taken to a safe location to be dealt with,” said Lt Dan Herridge, Officer Commanding SDU2.
Ten days ago, divers from the same unit recovered part of a German V2 rocket at Harwich, Essex. Later on Easter Day, PO O’Brien’s dealt with another piece of wartime ordnance – an Allied 1,000lb bomb – found in sea some four miles off Margate.
It too was successfully blown up – but because it lay 100ft down, there wasn’t the same impressive plume on the surface.
Subsea World News Staff , April 12, 2012; Image: Royal Navy