Plymouth bomb: Ministry of Defence confirms 500kg explosive detonated at sea

The explosive caused 'one of the largest UK peacetime evacuations', but residents can now return to their homes.

A Second World War bomb which forced thousands to evacuate has been detonated at sea, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

A spokeswoman said the bomb had been “detonated successfully at 9.51pm” after being taken out to sea at Torpoint Ferry slipway in Plymouth on Friday night.

The 500kg explosive was discovered in a back garden in St Michael Avenue in the Keyham area on Tuesday, which prompted “one of the largest UK peacetime evacuation operations” according to the MoD.

Around 10,320 people were affected by the 300-metre cordon placed around the site, but evacuated residents can return to their homes, Plymouth City Council said.

More than 100 personnel from the British Army and Royal Navy, including bomb disposal experts, were involved in the complex operation along with Plymouth City Council officials, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, Devon and Cornwall Police and members of the armed forces, to ensure the device was removed and people were safe.

Emergency workers gathered in Plymouth before the Second World War explosive was taken from a local garden and disposed of at sea on Friday Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

The MoD said the munition, identified as an air-dropped German bomb from the Second World War – designated SC-500 – was assessed as posing a significant risk to public safety.

On Friday, a military convoy towed the unexploded bomb from the home where it was found and through the densely populated residential area to Torpoint Ferry slipway, where it was taken out to sea and later detonated.

A military vehicle seen in Plymouth, where residents were evacuated and a cordon was put in place following the discovery of a WWII bomb Credit: PA

Lt Colonel Rob Swan, who was at the scene, explained before the detonation that the bomb would be taken to a depth of at least 14 metres before a diver would place a donor charge on the bomb to ignite the explosive.

On Friday at 5.32pm, town hall chiefs declared the operation a “success” telling residents “you can now return to your homes in Keyham”.

Tudor Evans, the leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “I think it is fair to say that the last few days will go down in history for Plymouth.”

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps thanked the personnel who had been involved in the “highly complex operation”.

Mr Shapps said: “I would like to express my thanks to all our personnel involved in this highly complex operation, who worked both night and day this week to keep the public safe and minimise the risk of damage, as well as the public for their patience and cooperation.

“The success of this operation is testament to the level of skill and expertise across our armed forces, as well as the bravery and fortitude of our personnel when faced with high-risk situations and working under extreme pressure.”

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