Royal Navy divers clear sea obstructions with explosives

The Royal Navy divers prepare the explosives
The Royal Navy divers prepare the explosives

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IF YOU felt a tremor last night and thought an earthquake had hit home, fear not.

The loud bang and subsequent shakes were in fact Royal Navy divers carrying out a controlled explosion to remove two concrete and wood pillars that have been menacing sailors in the Solent.

For years the two pillars have stood rising eight metres from the floor of the Solent off Stokes Bay, Gosport.

They were the remains of an old pier but had proved an underwater nuisance over the years.

Many sailors and fishermen have scraped their hulls or got their fishing nets caught on the columns.

As a result a team from the Royal Navy’s Southern Diving Unit Two (SDU2), based in Horsea Island, were asked if they would remove the columns.

Leading Diver Luke Halbauer, from SDU2, said: ‘These were two obstructions that were under the surface and invisible for a number of years causing problems for sailors using this part of the Solent.

‘When we went down to inspect the pillars we found an assortment of nets tangled around them where fishing trawlers had obviously not known they were there.

‘Our role was to remove the pillars, using explosives, and clear this bit of waterway of hazards.’

One man who lives in Western Way in Alverstoke, Gosport, said: ‘It was quite unlike anything I have ever experienced. The whole house shook.’

Southern Diving Unit 2 placed a 350 metre cordon around the two pillars in Stokes Bay and then conducted a controlled explosion.

Chief Diver Simon Crew, added: ‘By agreeing to carry out this controlled explosion our divers were being offered the opportunity to work in the arduous conditions of the Solent where they needed to consider the tides, depth, poor visibility, and other mariners in the area.

‘It was a successful training opportunity that felled the two pillars and has made the area a bit safer for others.’

Royal Navy divers are available to deploy 365 days a year to provide maritime force protection, as well as carrying out a civil protection function.

Divided into three units the divers cover the whole of the 

They not only respond to calls of unexploded ordnance being washed up, or unearthed along the coastline, but also to bomb disposal matters miles inland.

Royal Navy divers also played an important role in Afghanistan where they helped detect, and clear, explosive devices.