Portsmouth Harbour closed due to unexploded German bomb, causing travel chaos for cross-channel ferries
Cross-Channel ferries have been prevented from entering or leaving the ferry port until bomb experts can tow the device out to sea.
AN UNEXPLODED Second World War bomb has been discovered in Portsmouth Harbour, causing travel chaos for the busy port.
More than 1000 passengers were left stranded outside the harbour with Royal Navy bomb experts called in to detonate the device.
It has now been revealed that the bomb became dislodged by dredging work preparing for the next generation of Royal Navy aircraft carriers.
The passengers, stuck on four ferries waiting to come into the port, have since been allowed to disembark on land.
A Royal Navy (RN) spokesman confirmed: “Another German unexploded bomb has been found in Portsmouth Harbour.”
The spokesman added: “A 500-metre cordon is in place around the device, which is preventing cross-channel ferries from entering and leaving the ferry port.”
“A plan is in place to tow the bomb out of the harbour, where it will be destroyed in open waters by RN bomb disposal experts.”
“The device was found by a dredging barge carrying out work in the harbour before the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth – the Navy’s new 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier – into the naval base next spring.”
Bill Oliphant, Captain of Portsmouth Naval Base, confirmed it was the third device discovered during the dredging works and that they were working with police to prevent major disruptions in Portsmouth.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard have confirmed they will be closed for the whole day, while three Brittany and one Condor ferry were stuck for several hours.
The unexploded bomb was found about 5am, with a controlled explosion set to be carried out in open waters off the east of the Isle of Wight, with the time dependent on tidal conditions.
Three Brittany Ferries were forced to wait for a number hours outside the port – with two coming from France and another from Spain.
The ferry from Normandie, scheduled to arrive at 6.45am, one from Bretagne, scheduled to arrive at 7.45am and another from Bilbao in Spain were all forced to wait.
A spokesperson for Brittany Ferries told the Sun Online this morning: “There are 942 passengers on board these services. The ships are currently waiting outside Portsmouth Port, on instruction from QHM (Queens Harbour Master) following the discovery of unexploded World War II ordnance during dredging work.”
They added: “We are very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused to passengers on ships awaiting arrival, as well as passengers at Portsmouth Port awaiting departure.”
Passengers stuck on board have been given complimentary drinks and refreshments.
The ferry from Normandie to Caen 8.15am was cancelled while the service from Portsmouth to Bilbao has also been delayed.
Condor Ferries confirmed that its Commodore Clipper had been caught up in the delays, with 94 passengers on board.
In a statement, Condor Ferries said: “We apologise for the inconvenience this delay (which is beyond our control) has caused our freight customers and passengers.”
Victory Gate was closed to pedestrians as experts work to contain the situation.
Naval base employees were instead having to enter through Marlborough Gate on Queen Street.
The discovery comes after another 1,100lb (500kg) German bomb was found at the end of September by the dredging barge, which led to the evacuation of the nearby Gunwharf Quays retail and leisure centre.
A torpedo was also found earlier in September.
Hampshire Police said: “We can confirm we are supporting the Royal Navy this morning following the discovery of a piece of historic ordnance in Portsmouth Harbour. Explosive Ordnance Disposal are currently on the scene assessing the device. As a precaution, a cordon has been set up around the immediate area.”
– The Sun