Posts Tagged ‘Royal’

Royal Navy detonates huge WWII German mine in Solent

November 27th, 2015

The Royal Navy has released footage of the moment it blew up a 1,500lb German mine in the Solent.

The mine was reportedly found by a crane barge that was dredging the strait.


The moment of the controlled explosion in the Solent

The device, which dated from the Second World War, was towed to open water before being detonated.

The video of the explosion shows the power of the mine blowing up a plume of water high into the air.

These mines were laid in their thousands during WWII but are rarely encountered these days – it’s only the second one we have dealt with in three years

Petty Officer (Diver) Richard Ellis, Bomb Disposal team leader

In a statement Petty Officer (Diver) Richard Ellis said: “These mines were laid in their thousands during WWII but are rarely encountered these days – it’s only the second one we have dealt with in three years. The other one was in the mouth of the Thames.

“The mine was in quite good condition, and they were engineered to a very high standard which is probably why it has stayed safe all these years.”

The explosion created a plume almost 1,000ft high.

Bomb squad called in after mother finds her flower vase was an unexploded WW2 shell
Unexploded Second World War bomb near Wembley Stadium poses ‘genuine risk to life’


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Scrap merchants held for plundering Royal Navy warships

December 23rd, 2014

“Our department cannot carry out patrols as we do not have the vessels, but I have asked the Coast Guard and the Maritime Enforcement Agency to provide assistance and to patrol the area,” he said.

That intervention appears to have paid off, with the Malaysian warship KD Perkasa responding on Sunday to information provided by the Pahang Fishermen’s Association.

“The foreign fishermen who were diving illegally in the waters about 60 nautical miles from Tanjung Gelang were apprehended at 6.45am,” The Royal Malaysian Navy said in a statement.

“KD Perkasa detained a fishing boat which had been modified into a diving boat and its 17 Vietnamese crew, including some who were still diving at the sea bed, believed to be looting a warship that was sunk during the Second World War,” it said. Of the crew, only the captain had identification papers.

“It is very positive that they have caught people in the act of damaging the ships and detained them,” said Jeremy Whitaker, who has made video recordings of the damage being caused to the two ships.

“It’s interesting that they were in the water that early in the morning as it would have been dark and clearly not safe,” he said. “They obviously want to try to keep their work quiet.

“When we used to arrive at the site during the diving season, from May to October, they would see us coming, saw through their buoy lines and get away in any direction they could go.”

Descending on the wrecks subsequently, Mr Whitaker and the other TechThailand divers would find dynamite stuffed in coffee cans attached to the hull and primed to detonate.

“We once dived on the Prince of Wales and tied our lines to the prop shaft,” Mr Whitaker said. “We went back two weeks later and it was gone. It was lying in the sand with ropes attached and waiting to be lifted.”

Made of phosphorous bronze and an estimated 15 feet long and 14 inches thick, it would have been a valuable recovery for the scrap metal merchants.

“I hope they prosecute these people to the maximum extent, although I doubt it will keep them all away,” Mr Whitaker said.


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Royal tour: WW2 Spitfire pilot tells story of New Zealand fighter ace

April 9th, 2014

Mr Bunt will tell the Duke and Duchess the extraordinary story of his former station commander Lt Keith “Grid” Caldwell, New Zealand’s highest-scoring fighter ace of the Great War.

Caldwell, who survived the First World War, served as an officer in the Second World War and lived until 1980, was facing certain death when his biplane was damaged at 7,000ft, but managed to guide it down towards the ground by stepping out onto the wing and using his body weight to stabilise it while leaning into the cockpit and holding the joystick.

Mr Bunt gave The Telegraph a preview of the story he will tell the Duke on a visit that he is sure the Duke, himself a pilot, will thoroughly enjoy.


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Royal Mint to cast coins from bullion recovered after 70 years on ocean floor

April 5th, 2014

The ship spent 70 years lost beneath the waves before being found in 2011, 300 miles off the Irish coast, at a depth of three miles, half a mile deeper than the Titanic.

The deepest rescue operation in maritime history was carried out by a US company and the silver bullion was recovered from the seabed.

A portion of it was passed to the Royal Mint which began striking the coins on Friday, edged with the name SS Gairsoppa.

Shane Bissett, the Royal Mint’s director of bullion and commemorative coin, said: “This incredible story marks yet another exciting moment in the Royal Mint’s fascinating 1,000-year history.

“The traditional Britannia coin design, Philip Nathan’s elegant portrayal of a windswept Britannia looking out to sea, is the perfect image for the coins struck from SS Gairsoppa’s long-lost cargo.

“We are so pleased to be able to bring these coins to the market at long last, albeit more than 70 years later than expected.”

In December 1940 the Royal Mint was running dangerously low in stocks of silver due to the onset of war and called in emergency supplies from India.

The SS Gairsoppa sailed from Calcutta carrying the silver under the protection of a naval convoy.

But after battling a heavy storm it began running short of coal off the coast of Southern Ireland and was forced to break free and head for the safety of Galway Harbour.

The slow merchant ship was spotted by a German U-boat patrolling the British waters and was torpedoed at 12.08am on 17 February 1941.

It sank within 20 minutes.

Three lifeboats were launched but only Second Officer Richard Ayres made it to land and survived to tell the tale.

His lifeboat started with 31 men but after spending 13 deadly days he was the only sailor to make it to dry land alive.

He was awarded an MBE in recognition of his heroic efforts to keep fellow survivors alive, as well as a War Medal for bravery at sea, and amazingly returned to sea nine months later.

The 412ft ship was eventually found sitting on the seabed 300 miles off the Irish coast in September 2011 by US marine exploration company Odyssey.

And after a five-year rescue operation on behalf of the Treasury they recovered the silver bullion from SS Gairsoppa at an astonishing depth of three miles.

Odyssey’s senior project manager Andrew Craig holds a Gairsoppa Coin (Wales News)

Andrew Craig, who project managed the five-year rescue operation, said: “Nobody has ever done anything like this before at this depth.

“There were so many unknowns and when you took a step back it looked incredibly daunting – but we just took each challenge as it came.

“Finally bringing the silver bullion back to the Royal Mint, 72 years after it should have arrived, will bring the incredible story of the ship and its crew to light.

“Not many people have heard about the SS Gairsoppa since it sank but now it will be one of the most famous wrecks to be worked on and those sailors will never be forgotten.”

The rescue operation recovered 2,792 silver bars totalling approximately 3.2 million troy ounces of silver – worth around £38,272,000 at current prices.

Mr Craig said the record-breaking depth of the salvage operation left them with unique challenges to overcome and some eye-watering operational costs.

He said: “For the final stage of the project to retrieve the silver bullion we chartered a boat at a cost of £100,000-a-day – and were there for two seasons for around 180 days.

“It took three and a half hours to send out remotely operated submersible down to the sea bed and then we had to work our way through the boat to find where the silver was stored.

“Up until the last 10 years the technology hasn’t been there to do anything like this.

“But after silver prices rocketed it became financially worhtwhile to give it a go and we believed we had the technology and skill to do it.

“This has been a great challenge for us but now we know we can work any depth of water.

“Coming to The Royal Mint and seeing the silver bullion coins struck was quite emotional – now after 72 years we have seen the story come full circle.”

Odyssey kept 80 per cent of the silver bullion they recovered and the Treasury were given 20 per cent.

Some of this is being used for the striking of the 99.9 pure quarter ounce silver Britannia bullion coins.

Royal Mint historian Dr Kevin Clancy added: “This shipment of silver bullion should have got here 72 years ago and now it has finally come home.

“I don’t think anything like this has happened before – bullion destined for us which didn’t make now finding it’s way here.”

“It’s a very romantic and evocative story.”


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