Early this morning (April 14), the Dutch minehunter HNLMS Willemstad detected and detonated an extremely heavy German influence mine off the coast of Scotland. The minehunter had already cleared a British ground mine yesterday.
"A very special find", says the captain of the minehunter, Lieutenant Commander Paul Bijleveld. "In October 1939, the German submarine U31 laid an offensive minefield of 18 mines off the coast of Loch Ewe." Three of these mines detonated due to the presence of British ships: HMS Nelson was heavily damaged, and HMS Promotive and HMS Glenbalyn were sunk. "Of the other mines that were never found, one has now been eliminated." For safety reasons, this was done at a distance of 1 mile off the coast. Before the mine could be detonated, navy divers pulled it out from the sand using lifting straps. "A perilous operation, which was carried out very professionally by our divers. The Willemstad then dragged the big monster to the detonating location."
HNLMS Willemstad, taking part in an international exercise off the Scottish coast, had been tasked with clearing exercise mines in the approach route to Loch Ewe. While performing this task, the minehunter, for the second time during this exercise, detected a real explosive at the entrance of the bay. It was identified with the help of the submersible vehicle Seafox. The mine turned out to be a German GN influence mine, one of the most infamous of the Second World War. It was 3.38 metres long and fitted with an explosive charge of 907 kg of hexanite. This is equivalent to 1,100 kg of TNT. Not only was it equipped with acoustic and magnetic fuzes, it was also fitted with boobytraps.
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