Royal Navy Neutralizes WWII Bomb Near Gas Pipeline


By Royal Navy News 11-17-2017 04:06:40

A Royal Navy minehunter has destroyed a 500-pound wartime bomb that was dredged up and then dropped next to a major North Sea gas pipeline. HMS Cattistock and a team of expert Royal Navy divers raced to the location 50 miles off the coast of Norfolk after a Dutch trawlerman hauled the air-dropped Second World War device onto the deck of his vessel. The trawlerman gently lowered the device back down to the sea bed before reporting his discovery to authorities, but the bomb landed dangerously close to a major North Sea gas pipe.

On arrival, the Royal Navy divers lifted the device from the sea bed, towed it for one mile, and then detonated it with an explosive charge. Fortunately due to its age, the bomb was discovered to be inert and no longer a threat.

“The proximity of the bomb to the gas pipeline clearly presented a significant risk but we were able to deal with the situation quickly,” said Petty Officer (Diver) Lee Sullivan, from the Royal Navy’s Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2. “We safely removed the bomb from the pipeline area, and then carried out a controlled demolition. Fortunately the bomb turned out to be inert, meaning it wouldn’t have posed a danger but there was no way of knowing this until we destroyed it.”

HMS Cattistock arrived on scene within 24 hours of the call and swiftly located the bomb using the ship’s remotely operated vehicle. The embarked bomb disposal divers went down to assess the device on Wednesday and confirmed it was an air-dropped 500 pound bomb, likely to have been dropped by Germans in the Second World War. It was lying 200 feet from the pipeline.

Constrained by the tide, the bomb disposal team attached a lifting device to the bomb on Thursday afternoon to safely remove it from the sea bed and tow it a safe area one mile away from the pipe. After lowering the device and removing the lifting cradle, a final dive was conducted to place an explosive charge on the bomb. After detonating the charge and destroying the bomb, it was found to be chemically inactive.

HMS Cattistock, one of the Royal Navy’s Hunt-class minehunters, has been in service since 1982. She has a glass-reinforced plastic hull which makes her less noticeable to lurking dangers in minefields. Southern Diving Unit 2, based in Portsmouth, is part of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Diving Squadron and is responsible for explosive ordnance disposal at sea around the British Isles.

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