Royal Navy bomb-disposal divers have lifted and destroyed a 987kg German WW2 parachute mine from the 17th-century London warship wreck in the Thames Estuary.
The London archaeological dive-team, Steven & Carol Ellis and Steve Meddle, had suspended their work for several weeks after discovering the device during one of the regular dives they carry out on behalf of Historic England. The protected wreck lies near Southend Pier in Essex.
A team of eight Royal Navy clearance divers were dispatched from Portsmouth to deal with the device. In what they described as a complex six-day operation, their task was to lift and slowly tow it five miles to explode it in open sea off Shoeburyness.
The operation required some 20 dives, with the team spending more than six hours under water as they prepared to lift the bomb.
“The complexity of this task should not be underestimated,” said Lt Ben Brown, Officer in Charge of Southern Diving Unit Two.
“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 under water and significant tidal flow, the diving windows are extremely limited, and all work on the ordnance must be done by touch.”
The London archaeological dive-team faces the same visibility and tidal challenges on a regular basis, as well as having to work in an area of heavy boat traffic.