Royal Navy EOD Divers Neutralize WWII "Pipe Bomb"
On Thursday, Royal Navy explosive ordnance experts safely blew up a 70-year-old “self-destruct bomb” designed to prevent Royal Naval Air Station Lee-on-Solent from falling into German hands during the Battle of Britain.
A bomb disposal team from the Royal Navy’s Southern Diving Unit were called to the former naval airbase after a 20-foot-long “Canadian pipe bomb” was discovered by builders working on a new electricity substation near the Stubbington end of the site.
Lt. Cdr. Jonny Campbell and his team from Southern Diving Unit 2 on Horsea Island were called, and they immediately agreed with police that some of the roads around the bomb’s location should be closed for safety reasons and nearby homes evacuated.
The EOD experts then set about recovering the bomb, using metal detectors and ground penetrating radar, working through the night to safely remove what turned out to be a 20-foot-long section, which has now been blown up on a range.
The mines were originally laid around the airfield at the height of the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940 when the country was threatened with Nazi invasion. The idea was to detonate the pipe bombs if Germans stormed, or even occupied, the air station. The explosions would render the entire base and its infrastructure useless – and take the Nazi attackers with them. According to official records more than 250 sections of pipe bomb – each about 60 feet long and containing 120 pounds of explosives – were laid around RNAS Lee-on-the-Solent.
The mines should have been removed at the end of World War II, but many at the base were evidently forgotten because 20 were found during construction work on the site a decade ago.
“As Canadian pipe bombs are known to be potentially hazardous, a cordon and evacuation plan was implemented while trying to minimise disruption but maximise public safety,” said Lt. Cdr. Campbell. He said his divers had worked “safely and quickly in order to restore normality, re-open the roads and allow evacuated residents to return home.”
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