IT WAS one of the most testing bomb disposal operations Chief Petty Officer Ian Fleming had ever seen.
A huge German mine was stuck to the dredge head of a dredger which had dragged it up from the sea bed.
And it was down to the Royal Navy’s Portsmouth-based bomb disposal experts to remove it and tow it away.
CPO (Diver) Fleming and his team travelled from Horsea Island to Kent to start the delicate operation last week.
They worked for seven hours throughout the night in atrocious weather conditions to extract the mine and hoist it into the dredger’s upper deck.
It was then towed two miles further out and dropped to a depth of about 10m. The controlled explosion left a 250ft-high plume shooting into the sky.
CPO Fleming said: ‘I had to crawl along a pipe to reach the mine to attach chains. It was a confined space and waves were splashing all around me.
‘The fuses had been bashed about a bit and were quite dangerous and the explosives were exposed.
‘It was a tiring operation – one of the most testing I have been involved in – but everything went to plan.’
The air-dropped GC mine contained 1,500lbs of high explosives and was brought to the surface six miles north of Sheerness.
Accompanying CPO Fleming on the task were Leading Diver Lewis Watson and Divers Peter Birse and Josh Spibey.