Navy team blow up one of the largest German bombs ever dropped on Britain

A team of Royal Navy bomb disposal experts have destroyed a huge German bomb from the Second World War after it was discovered in the wreck of a warship off Essex.

Divers from Historic England discovered the 987kg bomb while they were diving on the wreck of the 17th century ship 'London' near Southend Pier.

An eight man team of Navy divers were sent from Portsmouth to tackle the huge bomb.

They towed it out into the estuary before blowing it up in a complex operation that took six days.

Lieutenant Ben Brown, Officer in Charge of Southern Diving Unit Two, said the bomb was one of the largest pieces of German ordnance ever found in the Thames Estuary.

The bomb disposal team out on the water off Essex Credit: Royal Navy

"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. The deteriorating weather conditions of this week also added another layer of complexity, and all whilst working next to one of the busiest shipping channels in the UK. However, these conditions are exactly what Royal Navy Clearance Divers are trained to work under and my team did an excellent job of keeping the public - and other mariners - safe."

Lieutenant Ben Brown
It took the eight man team six days to safely dispose of the huge bomb Credit: Royal Navy

The Navy said the WW2 German parachute ground mine contained a main charge of 697kg of Hexamite, equivalent to 767kg of TNT, and weighed 987kg in total.

Known as a GC, it was one of the largest pieces of ordnance used by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War.

Due to the complexity of the task and the difficult weather conditions it took the team six days, 216 man hours, and around 20 dives, to carefully lift the mine from the wreck and slowly tow it for five miles to the disposal site at Shoeburyness, blowing it up with a 2kg charge.

Despite being in the water for so long, the bomb - which was probably intended for the London docks - was still in good condition.

The Royal Navy bomb disposal team at work Credit: Royal Navy

"This task was completed by SDU2 but it would not have been possible were it not for the cooperation and assistance from numerous other agencies. These included HM Coastguard, RNLI, Essex Police Marine Unit, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, Peel Port Sheerness Docks, Shoeburyness Ranges, London Port Authorities and Historic England."

Lt Brown