Royal Navy bomb disposal experts called to 500lb wartime device found in Portsmouth Harbour

Royal Navy bomb disposal experts are this morning dealing with an unexploded Second World War device found in the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour.

The German SC250 bomb was found in the early hours of this morning [Wed 22 Feb 17] in the excavator head of a barge dredging the harbour – part of a raft of infrastructure upgrades taking place in readiness for the arrival of the Royal Navy’s new 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier.

Divers from the Royal Navy’s Portsmouth-based Southern Diving Unit 2 are on the scene. They are working alongside the Ministry of Defence Police, Portsmouth City Council, Hampshire Constabulary, the Queen’s Harbour Master and other organisations to ensure public safety and minimise disruption.

Portsmouth Harbour was temporarily closed to vessels until about 7.30am when it was deemed safe to reopen.

 

As always the Royal Navy stands ready to respond to these call-outs and keep people safe.

Lieutenant Mike St Pierre RN

“At this stage it is too early to tell when normality will be restored to Portsmouth Harbour,” said Lieutenant Mike St Pierre, the officer leading the bomb disposal team on the scene.

“But my team of Royal Navy divers are assessing the situation to work out how we can remove the bomb swiftly and safely with the help of the contractors, the Queen’s Harbour Master, Hampshire Constabulary and our operations centre.

“As always the Royal Navy stands ready to respond to these call-outs and keep people safe. Despite being old, these devices can pose a very serious threat.”

This type of Second World War German SC250 bomb weighs 500lb and contains 290lb of high explosives.

Millions of pounds have been spent on works 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 metre. New power facilities are also being built, navigational aids installed and jetties upgraded to take the carriers alongside.