Photos: Royal Navy Divers Blow Up 19th-Century Projectile

Courtesy MOD

By The Maritime Executive 2019-04-05 13:39:22

The Royal Navy's Southern Diving Unit 2 were called to Southend-on-sea yesterday afternoon after a fisherman discovered a 19th-century shell just 100 feet away from a recreational pier.

The team closed the pier as a precaution while they moved the 60-pound shell - thought to be a British rifled muzzle-loaded projectile - away from the public area to destroy it further off shore. They detonated the munition safely at low tide, just after 1900 hours.

NikkiChinnery / Twitter

Southend Council / Twitter

NikkiChinnery / Twitter

"When I arrived I identified that the munition was no longer fused but that it still held an explosive risk to the public," said Chief Petty Officer (Diver) Andrew Marshall. "We carried out a controlled explosion at 7.12pm. It was a good collaborative effort with partners Dover Coastguard, RNLI, Essex Police and London Southend Air Traffic Control.”

"Thanks to the emergency services and the military for their swift action and the public, for giving them the space to get on with their important job," said the Southend Council in a social media post. 

The Southern Diving Group is comprised of two Area Clearance Diving Units, and its 60 members provide counter-IED and EOD support throughout the southern UK. Many areas in this sector were subject to heavy bombing in WWII,  leaving unexploded ordinance that could present a danger to the public, both at sea and inland.