Royal Navy detonates bomb which closed London City Airport

The Royal Navy has detonated a 500 kg WWII bomb which forced the London City Airport to cancel flights on Sunday and Monday.

After a multi-day operation, the navy’s bomb disposal experts on February 14 detonated the bomb in the waters off the MOD’s Shoeburyness range.

The historic ordnance was found in the George V Dock in River Thames during pre-planned construction work near London City Airport on Sunday morning.

Royal Navy divers from the Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2, who are trained bomb disposal experts, were called to the scene to make the device safe and take it to be destroyed.

“Our armed forces are on standby 24/7 to keep the people of the United Kingdom safe,” armed forces minister Mark Lancaster said. “I’m immensely proud of the Royal Navy bomb disposal teams who have worked in very difficult conditions over the last 36 hours to safely dispose of this Second World War bomb.”

After examination, the device was confirmed as a 500kg tapered end shell measuring 1.5m in length. Bad weather on Tuesday meant it was unsafe to detonate the device, and the Royal Navy diver team guarded the ordnance overnight until calmer weather settled today.

Lieutenant Commander Jonny Campbell, the officer in charge of Southern Diving Unit 2, said: “The operation to remove the Second World War bomb from London City Airport was extremely successful. My team worked incredibly hard to ensure public safety remained the priority at all times.

“Royal Navy bomb disposal experts are called out roughly every 18 hours to incidents such as this and we are well trained and well placed to deal with them. We are pleased that London City Airport was able to reopen yesterday while we safely detonate the device well away from any public areas out at sea.”

The safeguarding and ultimate detonation of the historic device was handled by a joint operation between the Royal Navy, British Army bomb disposal teams, and the Metropolitan Police. The discovery of the bomb led to the temporary closure of London City Airport, and caused some evacuations of nearby residents while the bomb was made safe and removed from the site.