Royal Navy bomb disposal experts destroyed a 1,500lb (680kg) German mine discovered on the seabed in The Solent today.
The World War Two GD ground mine was found by a crane barge 1.5km off Southsea on Thursday while removing debris from a site being dredged next month in preparation for the arrival of the Navy’s new aircraft carriers.
The bomb disposal team – also fully-qualified clearance divers – towed the air-dropped device overnight to open waters about 1.5km off Bembridge, Isle of Wight, where they carried out a controlled explosion at 10:45 am this morning.
Petty Officer Richard Ellis was in charge of the six-man team of bomb disposal officers from Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2.
He said: “These mines were laid in their thousands during WWII but are rarely encountered these days – it’s only the second one we have dealt with in three years. The other one was in the mouth of the Thames.
“The mine was in quite good condition, and they were engineered to a very high standard which is probably why it has stayed safe all these years.”
The explosion created a plume about 300 meters high.
About the project
In June, the Defense Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) announced it had awarded a contract worth £31 million to Fareham based Boskalis Westminster Ltd for work to ready the harbor ahead of the arrival of the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers.
While the dredging vessel is not due to start its activity until next month, a crane barge, known as Strekker, has already begun removing debris from the dredge site which could cause an obstruction.
In total around 3 million cubic meters of clay, sand and gravel will be removed from the harbor by the trailing suction hopper and backhoe dredgers.
The dredging scheme is part of a program of work by DIO to prepare for the arrival of the carriers, which also includes rebuilding the Middle Slip Jetty.