A 500lb British bomb was blown up off the coast of Eastbourne yesterday (Thursday) after fisherman discovered it in their nets.
The bomb, said to be in pristine condition, was pulled to the surface in nets by the Joanna C, a scallop trawler from Shoreham, as it moved along the coast off Beachy Head.
Members of the Royal Navy Bomb Disposal were called from Portsmouth to deal with the device which was dropped to the bottom of the seabed and detonated remotely.
The drama unfolded shortly after 8am when the skipper of the Joanna C told coastguards that on raising his nets from the seabed off the coast of Beachy Head, he had found the bomb.
He and his two crew members were escorted towards Sovereign Harbour Eastbourne’s all-weather lifeboat The Diamond Jubilee.
Within an hour the Royal Navy Bomb Disposal Unit was scrambled from Portsmouth to Eastbourne and four experts were taken out on the lifeboat towards the Joanna C.
The bomb disposal unit then used their own inflatable to head over to the Joanna C while the lifeboat anchored up half a mile away.
The skipper and his crew were moved to safety aboard the lifeboat while four soldiers from the unit went on to the fishing vessel, manoeuvred the unexploded bomb over the side, waited until it hit the sea bed and then detonated it in a controlled explosion.
A no go zone was created around the area banning other ships fron entering the waters.
An RNLI spokesperson said, “The boat’s skipper is an experienced fisherman and remained calm throughout the whole incident. The bomb was an unexploded British bomb probably dropped by plane returning to Britain in the Second World War. It was said to be in pristine condition and obviously still had its detonator.”
Thursday was a busy day for the lifeboat crews in Eastbourne.
Volunteers were first called out at 6am after a collision between two fishing vessels off the coast.
The Zuiderkruis, a Dutch fishing boat, and Mere du Christ, a French fishing vessel, were involved in what the authorities said was a “gentle collision” 17 miles south east of Eastbourne.
Shortly after the lifeboat launched again after both French and English coastguard authorities lost radio contact with a Dutch vessel off the coast.
That was safely located and minutes after returning to the harbour the lifeboat was sent to assess the situation with the Joanna C which was off the coast of Beachy Head at the time.