North Sea WWII bombs still linger, being detonated by Navy

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Sailors from a Portsmouth warship made a splash as they detonated giant bombs in the North Sea.

The minehunter HMS Brocklesby destroyed two 500-pound Second World War explosives on Tuesday. 

Dive teams attached plastic explosives to the devices found more than 20 miles off the Dutch coast sending a huge plume of water into the air.

It’s thought there are more than 300,000 devices still lingering in the water from the war. 

The bombs discovered by Brocklesby were both dropped by Allied aircraft – purposely dumped after missions to avoid landing with explosives on board. 

Lieutenant Commander Tom Tredray, commanding officer of Brocklesby, said: ‘In 2005 some Dutch fishermen were killed by one of these bombs and since then we have had more than 1,000 reports in. 

‘The first was dropped by an American aircraft and the second by a British one. 

‘After finding them it’s our job to get them to a safe area and then send the team to detonate them.’ 

The ship has been working off the north-west coasts of Belgium and Holland in recent weeks to clear shipping lanes. 

Last month, the crew helped clear a minefield off France that had been laid in 1944 ahead of the D-Day landings. They find the bombs using the Sea Fox search kit – a mini-sub which scans the seabed. 

Lt Cdr Tredray said: ‘There’s still so much out there and the Sea Fox gives us a great chance to find it. 

‘The aim of this operation is to reduce the risk to seafarers, particularly fishermen who run the risk of hauling up explosives in their nets. 

‘It gives the team good training for mine disposal techniques, which is our job as part of Nato’s high readiness mine countermeasures force.’ 

Brocklesby took part in an international exercise off Sardinia in the Mediterranean before moving north for the second part of her deployment. 

She will shortly move up to the Baltic to continue her work, before returning to Portsmouth in July. 

Lt Cdr Tredray said: ‘From finding a parachute bomb in our first days in the Med, to finding these devices, it has been a busy and rewarding time away.’ 

HMS Brocklesby is a Hunt Class mine countermeasures vessel working in a standing Nato team.

It is under the command of Commander Henrik Rasmussen, who is in the Danish vessel HDMS Thetis.

There are three minehunters taking part in disposal operations – Brocklesby is working with Dutch and Belgian ships which also disposed of bombs on Tuesday. 

The navy’s minehunters are divided into two squadrons, one based in Portsmouth and one in Faslane. 

www.portsmouth.co.uk

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