Royal Navy divers blow up WWII mine

A gigantic plume of water and mud was thrown up by a huge German mine, safely blown up by Royal Navy bomb disposal experts off the Kent coast after a delicate operation to remove it from a dredger.

The air-dropped 'GC' mine, containing 1,500lbs (680kg) of high explosives, dated from the Second World War and was brought to the surface by a dredger six miles (10km) north of Sheerness.

Before carrying out a controlled explosion a four-man Navy team from Southern Diving Unit 2 in Portsmouth had to carefully remove the device from the vessel's dredge head.

Chief Petty Officer Ian 'Scouse' Fleming, who led the team, worked for seven hours through the night in atrocious conditions to safely extract the mine and hoist it onto the dredger's upper deck.

He said:

"I had to crawl along a pipe to reach the mine to attach chains. It was a confined space and waves were splashing all around me. The fuses had been bashed about a bit and were quite dangerous and the explosives were exposed.

"It was a tiring operation - one of the most testing I have been involved in - but everything went to plan."

Yesterday the Second World War device - which measured two metres long by 50cm in diameter - was towed two miles (3km) further out to sea and dropped to a depth of about ten metres.

The controlled explosion caused a 76-metre-high plume, which was clearly visible from the shore.

Accompanying CPO Fleming on the task were Leading Diver Lewis Watson and Able Seamen (Divers) Peter Birse and Josh Spibey.

Source: Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
Date: Nov 28, 2012