MICHAEL Fallon paid tribute to the work of the Royal Navy’s divers and experts in removing an unexploded German bomb from Portsmouth Harbour and ensuring the public were kept safe during the drama.
The defence secretary was given a briefing on the operation earlier this month to remove and safely detonate the device, discovered during dredging works.
He learnt the bomb was just one of 2,700 ‘obstacles’ removed in the clean-up of the naval base, and it’s expected another 2,400 are expected to be found. The bomb, which led to homes, shops and businesses in Old Portsmouth and Gunwharf Quays being evacuated, was exploded off the coast of the Isle of Wight, after it was towed by two men on a boat from Portsmouth’s shores.
Debris found since the beginning of dredging works last year range from a ‘200-year-old skull’ to a ‘watch’.
Commodore Jeremy Rigby, Portsmouth’s Naval Base Commander, told Mr Fallon the base would be ‘exceptionally lucky’ if no more bombs were found on the seabed in the next six months.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Fallon said: ‘They showed great courage, in executing a German bomb, putting great risk to themselves, well out of the civilian population. I pay further tribute to the navy divers who put themselves at potential harm to keep us safe.’