SAILORS on board minehunter HMS Ledbury have got their deployment off with a bang – literally.
The Portsmouth-based ship has found the remains of a German sea mine on the first day of her deployment.
As reported in The News, the minehunter is going on a four-month mission in the Mediterranean.
She left the city last week but first took part in some training near Weymouth.
During this training, the sailors found the German Type C mine – known as a GC.
Lieutenant Lee Funnell, the ship’s operations officer, said: ‘As soon as the camera of our Seafox remotely operated vehicle panned onto the contact it was obvious that the explosive fill had been eroded from the casing.
‘We saw a conger eel looking back at us from the round hole that would have contained one of the fusing mechanisms of the mine.’
Bad weather conditions prevented the crew of HMS Ledbury from disposing of the mine.
The task of removing it will now fall to the explosive ordnance disposal experts of the Plymouth-based Southern Diving Unit 1.
The Royal Navy has three clearance diving teams, one of which is based in Portsmouth.
They are ready 24 hours a day to deal with any ordnance washed up on beaches or found at sea.
Lieutenant Commander Justin Hains is the ship’s commanding officer. He said: ‘Finding historic ordnance and rendering it safe is a core role of the Nato group, so I am pleased to establish our credentials so early in the deployment.
‘The GC is one of the largest historic sea mines and can still present a very real danger, especially to trawlers or when washed up on beaches.’
HMS Ledbury is one of eight Hunt-class mine countermeasures vessels that make up the Second Mine Countermeasures Squadron, which is based in Portsmouth.