BACKGROUND: Unexploded bombs in Portsmouth Harbour

Credit: LPhot Iggy Roberts
Credit: LPhot Iggy Roberts
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The unexploded wartime bomb found in Portsmouth Harbour this morning is one of many found in the waters around the city over the last few years.

Many devices, including today’s find, have been discovered in the seabed while dredging takes place ahead of the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

The unexploded bomb found near Portsmouth in November last year. Credit: Royal Navy

The unexploded bomb found near Portsmouth in November last year. Credit: Royal Navy

Most of the bombs landed in the seas around Portsmouth during the Second World War, when they were dropped by the German Luftwaffe.

Between 1940 and 1944 the air raid sirens sounded in anger 1,581, and 1,320 high explosive devices were dropped.

But this figure does not include hundreds which fell into the sea or mudflats surrounding the city.

In November last year an unexploded German bomb, dated from the Second World War, was found by a dredging barge carrying out work in the harbour.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard was closed and part of the harbour was closed off, while some residents had to be evacuated from their homes.

Nightclub visitors also had an unexpected surprise in September, when Gunwharf Quays was shut for the evening due to a bomb being found in the water.

And earlier in the month an unexploded torpedo was discovered on the seabed, and police had to seal off up to 500m of the area while investigations took place.


After the third bomb was found in November, a Royal Navy commander told The News that more unexploded devices were likely to be found in the water around the city in the months leading up to HMS Elizabeth’s arrival.

Commander Del McKnight said: ‘I suspect [this bomb] won’t be the last. We will stand ready to be called out again.’

While most bombs are kept in the water, if they are taken out this means evacuations and closures are more likely.

This is because keeping the device in the water can create a dampening effect, reducing the effect of detonations.