News story

Royal Navy blows up WWII mine

Royal Navy bomb disposal experts successfully blew up a huge German Second World War mine off the Essex coast on Tuesday 19 July 2011.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The air-dropped German mine lodged in a dredger's dredge head

The air-dropped German mine lodged in a dredger's dredge head [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

The 1,500-pound (680kg) Second World War device was dredged up last Friday by the vessel Congo River about seven miles (11km) off Walton-on-the-Naze.

A team from Southern Diving Unit 2 in Portsmouth were faced with an initial precarious task of detaching the parachute mine from the vessel before laying it safely on the sea bed.

They then had to wait until Tuesday for a safe weather window to send a diver down to the device and attach explosives.

Lieutenant Commander Al Nekrews, who led an eight-man team during the operation, said the controlled explosion created a 300-foot (91m) plume. He added:

The weather and sea state in the region were extremely poor for a few days but thankfully it improved a lot yesterday [Tuesday] and we were able to crack on with the task.

The mine was in excellent condition - in fact it was still shiny - but the dredger had pierced its skin so this was a delicate task for the team.

Lieutenant Commander Nekrews praised Chief Petty Officer (Diver) Ian Fleming and Leading Diver Matt Baker for their efforts in safely detaching the mine from the vessel. He said:

They were first on the scene and were faced with a challenging and precarious task but as usual they dealt with it in an extremely professional way.

These type of devices are not uncommon, particularly in that part of the world. There are still tens of thousands of unaccounted for pieces of ordnance from the Second World War scattered throughout northern Europe.

Published 21 July 2011