Royal Navy divers destroy bomb lying near North Sea gas pipeline

A team of Royal Navy divers was called upon to destroy a 500lb wartime bomb which was first dredged up and then dropped dangerously close to a major North Sea gas pipeline.

The divers embarked aboard minehunter HMS Cattistock racing to the location 50 miles off the coast of Norfolk after a Dutch trawlerman hauled the air-dropped Second World War device onto the deck of his vessel caught in fishing nets.

The trawlerman lowered the device back down to the sea bed before reporting his discovery to authorities but the bomb landed dangerously close to a major North Sea gas pipe.

On arrival, the Royal Navy divers lifted the device from the sea bed, towed it for one mile, and then detonated it with an explosive charge. The bomb was discovered to be inert and no longer a threat.

“The proximity of the bomb to the gas pipeline clearly presented a significant risk but we were able to deal with the situation quickly,” Petty Officer (Diver) Lee Sullivan, from the Royal Navy’s Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2, said.

“We safely removed the bomb from the pipeline area, and then carried out a controlled demolition. Fortunately the bomb turned out to be inert, meaning it wouldn’t have posed a danger but there was no way of knowing this until we destroyed it.”

HMS Cattistock arrived on scene within 24 hours of the call and located the bomb using the ship’s remotely operated vehicle. The embarked bomb disposal divers went down to assess the device on Wednesday and confirmed it was an air-dropped 500lb bomb, likely to have been dropped by Germans in the Second World War.

It was lying 60m from the pipeline.

Constrained by the tide, the bomb disposal team attached a lifting device to the bomb on Thursday afternoon to safely remove it from the sea bed and tow it a safe area one mile away from the pipe.

After lowering the device and removing the lifting cradle, a final dive was conducted to place an explosive charge on the bomb. After detonating the charge and destroying the bomb, it was found to be chemically inactive.