Royal Navy Detonates WWII-Era Bomb Found in Portsmouth Harbour

Mike Schuler
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November 18, 2016

Bomb experts carried out the controlled explosion Thursday afternoon approximately 1.5 miles east of the Isle of Wight. 

Bomb disposal experts with the UK Royal Navy have destroyed an unexploded WWII bomb found in Portsmouth Harbour during dredging work ahead of the arrival of Royal Navy’s new supercarrier.

The WWII device, thought to be of German origin, was found at Thursday this morning by a barge dredging the harbor, part of infrastructure upgrades taking place in prepartion for the arrival of the Royal Navy’s new 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

HMS Queen Elizabeth following her naming ceremony conducted at Rosyth Dockyard. Photo: UK Royal Navy
HMS Queen Elizabeth following her naming ceremony conducted at Rosyth Dockyard. Photo: UK Royal Navy

The bomb was towed out to open waters 1.5 miles east of the Isle of Wight where a controlled explosion took place Thursday afternoon.

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The operation closed the harbor to all vessel traffic while the device was towed out through the harbor entrance.

“Everything went smoothly and we were pleased to be able to get the operation completed in daylight today,” said Commander Del McKnight, the Commanding Officer of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Diving Squadron. “Despite being old, these devices still pose a very serious threat when they are moved.””

“Last year we had more than 450 call-outs around the UK so this is really business as usual for us. We’ve had more call-outs to Portsmouth than we would usually see, because of the extent of the dredging works being done to make way for HMS Queen Elizabeth, but we have teams on standby at 10 minutes notice around the UK ready to deal with these things.”

At 65,000-tonnes, the HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy.

The UK has so far spent millions of pounds to prepare Portsmouth Naval Base to accommodate the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers – HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

Dredging operations are under way to deepen the main channel used by shipping in Portsmouth by one meter. New power facilities are also being built, navigational aids installed and jetties upgraded to take the carriers alongside.

A (poorly shot) video of the explosion is below: 

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