Navy divers destroy WW2 bomb found in 17th Century warship

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image copyrightRoyal Navy
image captionThe bomb was towed five miles from Southend Pier before being detonated

Royal Navy bomb disposal experts have destroyed a World War Two device found in the wreck of a 17th Century warship.

The 987kg (2,175lbs) explosive was towed away from the protected remains of the sunken vessel near Southend Pier.

Divers worked on the bomb in a six-day operation, working mainly by touch because of poor visibility.

Lt Ben Brown said the eight-strong team had worked in "some of the most challenging diving conditions".

image copyrightRoyal Navy
image captionAn eight-strong Royal Navy team performed 20 dives and spent more than six hours underwater to move the bomb

The German parachute ground mine was one of the biggest bombs used by the Luftwaffe during the war.

"The complexity of this task should not be underestimated," Lt Brown, the officer in charge of the operation, said.

"Dealing with one of the largest pieces of German Second World War ordnance in the Thames Estuary presents some of the most challenging diving conditions there are to work in.

"With nil visibility underwater and significant tidal flow, the diving windows are extremely limited and all work on the ordnance must be done by touch."

He said deteriorating weather conditions and working near one of the UK's busiest shipping channels had "added another layer of complexity".

The bomb was discovered by civilian divers from Historic England during an archaeological dive on the shipwreck London, which was launched in 1656 and sank in 1665.

It was detonated five miles away, at the disposal site at Shoeburyness, off the Essex coast.

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