Portsmouth bomb disposal team detonate wartime device found in London

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ROYAL Navy explosive experts have today obliterated a Second World War bomb discovered in the River Thames.

The historic ordnance was found in the George V Dock during pre-planned construction work near London City Airport on Sunday morning.

Royal Navy divers from Horsea Island-based Southern Diving Unit 2, who are trained bomb disposal experts, were called to the scene to make the device safe and take it to be destroyed.

It was detonated at midday in the waters off the MoD’s Shoeburyness range.

REVEALED: The number of times navy divers in Portsmouth risked their lives to tackle deadly bombs

Following the successful detonation, Mark Lancaster, armed forces minister, said: ‘Our armed forces are on standby 24/7 to keep the people of the United Kingdom safe.

‘I’m immensely proud of the Royal Navy bomb disposal teams who have worked in very difficult conditions over the last 36 hours to safely dispose of this Second World War bomb.

‘Whether on operations overseas or held at high readiness for contingencies at home, our priority is always the safety and security of the UK.’

After examination, the device was confirmed as a 500kg tapered end shell measuring 1.5m in length.

BEHIND THE SCNES: Portsmouth bomb disposal team reveal all

Bad weather on Tuesday meant it was unsafe to detonate the device, and the Royal Navy diver team guarded the ordnance overnight until calmer weather settled today.

Lieutenant Commander Jonny Campbell, the officer in charge of Southern Diving Unit 2, said: ‘The operation to remove the Second World War bomb from London City Airport was extremely successful.

‘My team worked incredibly hard to ensure public safety remained the priority at all times.

‘Royal Navy bomb disposal experts are called out roughly every 18 hours to incidents such as this and we are well trained and well placed to deal with them.

‘We are pleased that London City Airport was able to reopen yesterday while we safely detonate the device well away from any public areas out at sea.’

The announcement comes after The News revealed the number of times bomb disposal teams from Portsmouth had been called upon in the past year.

Captain Roger Readwin, captain mine warfare and patrol vessels, is the head of the diving branch,

Speaking to The News, he said the clearance divers were among some of the most highly-trained in the world.

‘The handling of the Second World War 500kg unexploded bomb located in George V Dock this week in London, underlines the highly skilled and trained abilities of our Royal Navy clearance divers,’ he said.

‘I am immensely proud of their achievements in dealing with this unexploded bomb, operating in close partnership with the Metropolitan Police and other emergency services.

‘The bomb team’s recent recognition at ‘The Sun Military Awards’, is reinforced once again by their gallant and professional handling of the George V Dock unexploded bomb.

‘I would also like to extend my sincere gratitude to all our families and friends of the naval service, for their unwavering support in all our endeavours to ensure the Royal Navy is ready to fight and win.’

The safeguarding and ultimate detonation of the historic device was handled by a joint operation between the Royal Navy, British Army bomb disposal teams, and the Metropolitan Police.

The discovery of the bomb led to the temporary closure of London City Airport, and caused some evacuations of nearby residents while the bomb was made safe and removed from the site.

Robert Sinclair, the chief executive of London City Airport, said: ‘I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the Royal Navy and in particular, the team of expert divers for their professionalism and tireless efforts over a prolonged period to bring this operation to a safe conclusion.’