ROYAL Navy bomb disposal experts based at HM Naval Base Clyde were called into action after a fishery research vessel found a mine in the Firth of Clyde.
The team of explosive ordnance disposal experts from Northern Diving Group (NDG) were alerted by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency after the alarm was raised around 11.20am yesterday (Tuesday).
Seven crew members were evacuated from the vessel involved by Troon Lifeboat and Rothesay Coastguard Rescue Team and it then sailed to Ettrick Bay on Bute to meet with Northern Diving Group.
After examination, the item, which was described as being in “pristine” condition, was confirmed as being a Second World War German submarine-laid mine containing around 350kg of explosives.
The Northern Diving Group team co-ordinated the lowering of the ordnance to the seabed off Ettrick Beach and today they carried-out a controlled explosion to dispose of the mine.
Lieutenant Commander Mark Shaw, commanding officer of Northern Diving Group, said: “The mine was trawled in the vicinity of Isla Craig, a small island in the Firth of Clyde. Considering it had been in the water for around 80 years, its condition was remarkable.
“From the initial pictures, we were able to easily identify the mine type and importantly determine that the explosive fill was intact and therefore presented a significant hazard.
“The vessel was diverted to Ettrick Bay and met by my team, led by Petty Officer (Diver) Robert McCann who safely dealt with the situation.”
He continued: “Items of this size are relatively uncommon, however, NDG are approaching 100 call-outs this year supporting civil authorities with all types of explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), ranging from mines and torpedoes to hand grenades and improvised devices. On average, across the UK, Royal Navy clearance divers are tasked once a day for EOD assistance.
“This highlights the remaining presence of historic ordnance. Even small items can be unstable and present an explosive hazard; carrying out a controlled explosion is the only safe way of dealing with them and neutralising the hazard.
“If anyone comes across a suspected piece of ordnance they shouldn’t interfere with it and should immediately contact the emergency services.”
The Northern Diving Group, which comprises more than 40 Royal Navy clearance divers, is one of two Fleet Diving Squadron area diving groups whose mission is to provide diving, explosive ordnance disposal and in-water maintenance and repair to the fleet.
To aid civic authorities, NDG provides a perpetual high-readiness team of maritime explosive ordnance disposal, or bomb disposal, experts.
They cover an area that starts from the high water mark in Liverpool and stretches 12 nautical miles out to sea, clockwise around the coast to Hull, encompassing Northern Ireland, the Scottish Western Isles, Shetland and the Orkneys.
This vast area was exposed to many bombing raids in World War Two both on land and at sea, and the team continues to find and deal with hazardous historic ordnance that could still pose a threat.