A 500lb wartime bomb has been destroyed after being dropped “dangerously close” to a major gas pipeline by a fishing boat that had dredged it up from the seabed.
The explosive, dropped by German bombers during the Second World War, was hauled out of the water by a Dutch trawlerman after it got caught in his fishing nets in the North Sea, 50 miles off the Norfolk coast.
He then lowered it back down into the depths for safety, unaware he had dropped the device near to a gas pipe 60 metres away.
Royal Navy divers made the discovery after the trawlerman reported his find, with Portsmouth-based minehunter HMS Cattistock deployed to the location on Thursday afternoon.
The team attached a lifting device to the bomb to safely remove it from the seabed and tow it a safe area one mile away from the pipe.
A final dive was conducted to place an explosive charge on the bomb, although due to its age it had been found to be inert and no longer a threat.
One of the divers, Officer Lee O’Sullivan, said: “The proximity of the bomb to the gas pipeline clearly presented a significant risk but we were able to deal with the situation quickly.
“We safely removed the bomb from the pipeline area, and then carried out a controlled demolition.
“Fortunately the bomb turned out to be inert, meaning it wouldn’t have posed a danger but there was no way of knowing this until we destroyed it.”
Lieutenant Commander Charles Wheen, the Commanding Officer of HMS Cattistock, added: “This is exactly the sort of task HMS Cattistock and the Royal Navy’s expert divers are trained to do and we worked together to deliver a safe outcome. I’m very proud of the team involved and how they managed to resolve this potentially dangerous situation.
“It’s a great example of the importance of good teamwork, but I hope it also serves as a reassuring demonstration of how the Royal Navy stands by around the clock to secure the seas around Britain.”