Watch the moment Portsmouth Royal Navy divers blow up a 987kg German Luftwaffe bomb from the Second World War

BOMB disposal experts from Portsmouth have destroyed a piece of Second World War ordnance weighing almost a tonne after finding it at the wreck of a 17th century warship.

Friday, 27th September 2019, 1:41 pm
Portsmouth Royal Navy divers safely destroy a 987kg German Luftwaffe bomb found near the 17th century London shipwreck, near Southend. Picture: Royal Navy

An eight-man Royal Navy team was sent to the Thames Estuary after Historic England divers found the bomb at the shipwreck of London. 

The vessel was launched in 1656 and was served as a 76-gun, second-rate ship of the line in the Navy of the Commonwealth of England. 

Its protected wreck now lies in two parts near Southend Pier, in Essex. 

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Portsmouth Royal Navy divers safely destroy a 987kg German Luftwaffe bomb found near the 17th century London shipwreck, near Southend. Picture: Royal Navy

Portsmouth’s navy divers towed the bomb away from the ship and destroyed it in the sea as part of a six-day operation. 

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Lieutenant Ben Brown, officer in charge of Southern Diving Unit Two, said: ‘The complexity of this task should not be underestimated.

‘Dealing with one of the largest pieces of German Second World War ordnance in the Thames Estuary presents some of the most challenging diving conditions there are to work in.

Portsmouth Royal Navy divers safely destroy a 987kg German Luftwaffe bomb found near the 17th century London shipwreck, near Southend. Picture: Royal Navy

‘With nil visibility underwater and significant tidal flow, the diving windows are extremely limited and all work on the ordnance must be done by touch.

‘The deteriorating weather conditions of this week also added another layer of complexity, and all whilst working next to one of the busiest shipping channels in the UK.

‘However, these conditions are exactly what Royal Navy Clearance Divers are trained to work under and my team did an excellent job of keeping the public – and other mariners – safe.' 

Exciting footage, above, shows the moment the German parachute mine was exploded. 

Portsmouth Royal Navy divers safely destroy a 987kg German Luftwaffe bomb found near the 17th century London shipwreck, near Southend. Picture: Royal Navy

Divers said it contained a main charge of 697kg of Hexamite – equivalent to 767kg of TNT – and was one of the largest pieces of ordnance dropped by the Luftwaffe. 

It took navy divers six days, 216 man hours and about 20 dives to carefully lift it from London’s wreck and tow it carefully to Shoeburyness. 

It was there it was blown up using a 2kg charge. 

‘The mine, most likely dropped to target one of the numerous docks in the Thames Estuary, was in extremely good condition given its age,' added Lt Brown.

‘This task was completed by SDU2 but it would not have been possible were it not for the cooperation and assistance from numerous other agencies.

‘These included HM Coastguard, RNLI, Essex Police Marine Unit, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, Peel Port Sheerness Docks, Shoeburyness Ranges, London Port Authorities and Historic England.’