ELITE explosives experts from Portsmouth have destroyed a Second World War bomb found near the Houses of Parliament.
Bomb disposal experts from the Royal Navy’s Southern Diving Unit 2 were called at 7.15pm last night by the Metropolitan Police to London’s Westminster Bridge.
The deadly device had been unearthed by a dredger operating in the Thames, close to Victoria Embankment.
The bomb was eventually towed along the river and out towards Tilbury, where it was safely detonated at about 6am this morning.
‘It was a long night for me and the team but this is exactly what we are trained for so it was a successful operation, although it was a little surreal carrying out our job right next to the Houses of Parliament,’ said Lieutenant Mike St Pierre, the officer who led the bomb disposal team on scene.
‘The bomb itself was in good condition considering how old it was, and it clearly still presented a danger.
‘We removed it from the barge and towed it along the Thames, working very closely with the Met Police to safely close off bridges as we went, until we were sure we could detonate it safely.’
The device was identified as a German SD 50kg bomb, a small armour-piercing bomb dropped from an aircraft.
The operation to make the device safe required the closure of Waterloo and Westminster Bridges for several hours.
Westminster Underground Station was also closed temporarily, and river traffic was halted.
‘Royal Navy divers are on standby at 10 minutes notice around the UK to deal with these things, so last night was very much business as usual for my team,’ said Commander Del McKnight, commanding officer of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Diving Squadron.
‘They did an excellent job, responding quickly to the incident and ensuring smooth running of the operation to make sure the public were kept safe throughout. This sort of ordnance, while old, does still present a serious threat which is why the Royal Navy is always ready to respond and dispose of them.’
The Royal Navy’s Southern Diving Group has two teams, one based in Plymouth and one in Portsmouth.
The teams are made up of elite divers, who are experts in explosive ordnance disposal and also serve at high readiness to deploy across the globe in support of Royal Navy operations.