Royal Navy bomb experts destroy 19th century shell

Southern Diving Unit 2, based in Portsmouth, were called to Southend-on-sea yesterday afternoon after a bait fisherman discovered a 19th century shell just 30 metres away from the pleasure pier.

The team closed the pier as a precaution while they moved the 29kg projectile - thought to be a British rifled muzzle-loaded projectile - away from the public area to destroy it further out at sea at around 7pm.

Chief Petty Officer(Diver) Andrew Marshall said: When I arrived I identified that the munition was no longer fused but that it still held an explosive risk to the public.

"We carried out a controlled explosion at 7.12pm. It was a good collaborative effort with partners Dover Coastguard, RNLI, Essex Police and London Southend Air Traffic Control.”

The Royal Navy's Diving Units provide a vital service to both the Royal Navy and the public and are at high readiness to deploy to any location around the UK.

Southern Diving Unit

  • The Southern Diving Group is comprised of two Area Clearance Diving Units. Southern Diving Unit One (SDU1) is located in Plymouth and SDU2 located in Portsmouth.

  • They Consist of up to 60 Royal Navy Clearance Divers and supporting specialists.
  • Have a long standing commitment to provide Military Diving and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), Bomb Disposal and aid to the Civil Powers such as the Home Office, Police and Coastguard
  • Provide counter IED support in the South Eastern and Southwestern sectors of the UK.
  • Stretching 1400 miles, their area of responsibility begins from the Highwater mark in Hull and proceeds seaward to the Territorial limit and runs clockwise around the British Isles, including the Isle of Wight, Channel Islands, and Isles of Scilly, to finish in Liverpool.
  • Many of these areas were subject to heavy bombing in WW2 leaving many left over explosives from that period that could otherwise present a significant danger to the public and critical national infrastructure, both on the foreshore, at sea, and on occasion, inland.
  • As the Fleet Diving Squadron’s specialists in Maritime EOD, they also hold small teams at high readiness to deploy to the reaches of the Globe.