back to article Portsmouth bomb about to be detonated

Dredgers clearing Portsmouth harbour in the UK have found yet another unexploded Second World War bomb. The 500kg device meant Pompey’s retail and chain boozer park Gunwharf Quays was evacuated at 11pm last night as a precaution. The bomb is being towed out into the Solent where it will be destroyed by controlled explosion. …

  1. Rich 11 Silver badge

    The event was such a damp squib that they assumed it hadn’t worked and returned for another go at 11am.

    Damn Nazis, denying us a Friday firework. I thought German engineering was supposed to be better than that.

    1. Thomas Whipp

      Design Parameters

      Quite... having failed to detonate successfully around 70 years ago and then being submerged in salt water and silt for the intervening period you'd expect a successful explosion now to be well within their original design parameters.

      1. Putters

        Re: Design Parameters

        We can only hope that American explosives from the same era are just as crap ...

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Richard_Montgomery

        "According to a survey conducted in 2000 by the United Kingdom Maritime and Coastguard Agency,[1] the wreck still held munitions containing approximately 1,400 tonnes (1,500 short tons) of TNT high explosive.[1] These comprise the following items of ordnance:

        286 × 2,000 lb (910 kg) high explosive "Blockbuster" bombs[9]

        4,439 × 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs of various types

        1,925 × 500 lb (230 kg) bombs

        2,815 fragmentation bombs and bomb clusters

        Various explosive booster charges

        Various smoke bombs, including white phosphorus bombs

        Various pyrotechnic signals

        An investigation by New Scientist magazine concluded in 2004, based partly on government documents released in 2004, that the cargo was still deadly, and could be detonated by a collision, an attack, or even shifting of the cargo in the tide. The bad condition of the bombs is such that they could explode spontaneously"

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Design Parameters

          the wreck still held munitions containing approximately 1,400 tonnes (1,500 short tons) of TNT high explosive

          Which is about half the estimated explosive power released by the Pepcon disaster.

    2. Fortycoats

      GB / US Bombs just as reliable

      They still find plenty of unexploded ordnance across Germany. The departments charged with the safe disposal have a great name: Kampfmittelräumdienst

      They defuse the bombs (mostly), then transport them to special facilities where the stuff is all placed in a big hole and blown up with a satisfying kaboom.

      Some cannot be defused safely, and are detonated on site, like this one 4 years ago:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idF3Nq11BcM

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: GB / US Bombs just as reliable

        >They still find plenty of unexploded ordnance across Germany. ... transport them to special facilities where the stuff is all placed in a big hole and blown up with a satisfying kaboom.

        Traditionally Belgium

    3. PNGuinn
      Flame

      re "Damn Nazis"

      Nothing wrong with ze bomb herr Rich.

      Zat vas low emissions prototype by german people's car design team.

      Vent karput according to design .... Bombsprung durch Technik und all zat.

      Sprung vas bit rusty possibly.

    4. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Don't you mean damp squid?

      https://youtu.be/XnXKVY-_i2c?t=61

    5. Montreal Sean

      Blame Volkswagen.

      "Damn Nazis, denying us a Friday firework. I thought German engineering was supposed to be better than that."

      They underperform only when being monitored, just like the bomb.

  2. Dave 32
    Coat

    Damp Squib

    Hey, that sounds like a good project name!

    Dave

    P.S. I'll get my coat. It's the one with the project specification, with more red ink than black ink, in the pocket.

  3. Mutton Jeff

    Blowing up Portsmouth?

    Sounds like a regeneration project.

    1. Velv Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Blowing up Portsmouth?

      I hope they didn't tweet about it beforehand

    2. Tony S

      Re: Blowing up Portsmouth?

      My family were all from Pompey. We left in the early 60s.

      My mother went back in the late 80s / early 90s (not quite sure when) and apparently was wandering around trying to find a couple of the key landmarks that she remembered. Apparently she came across the infamous Tricorn shopping centre and sat down on the steps and cried, it was so awful. (3rd ugliest building in the UK). She was often heard to say that they should invite someone over to bomb it.

      When she heard that they were demolishing it, she made a point of going down to visit her sister; and they took a day trip to see what was left.

      1. Lotaresco

        Re: Blowing up Portsmouth?

        "Apparently she came across the infamous Tricorn shopping centre and sat down on the steps and cried"

        The "Spinnaker Tower", or "Millennium WasteOfSpace" is known in the area as "The Vertical Tricorn".

        The Tricorn was special. It was not only brutally ugly but also deeply unpleasant in every way imaginable. The dank car park with water and other nastier smelling fluids gathered in large puddles on the floor and in stairways led the way to a group of run-down shops selling stuff no one wanted. The atmosphere of the place was physically threatening with added filth. Nothing was clean.

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Windows

    So...

    I someone getting commissions for bad images from Shutterstock or why is this coding-on-a-bomb image up there?

  5. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
    Mushroom

    Did nobody ever tell these people about not going back to a lit firework?

    I never did understand that advice. Were you just supposed to declare your garden off limits for the rest of time, or until the firework in question finally goes whoosh?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You need to finish the adage: "...without due care and attention". In this case, the best way is to literally turn them into damp squibs: water is your best friend here. Take to them at a distance with a hose for a minute or so, then approach (preferably behind something to use as a shield) with a big bucket full of water, pick up the firework with something like fireplace tongs and dunk it. After about 24 hours, it should be safe to sack it and stuff it.

      In the case of the bomb, I presume they approached from some distance and at some point noted the bomb had actually been broken by the event (if it and the demo charges were still in place, they'd probably implement known protocols to deal with the issue, such as severing detonation cords--unlike fireworks, demo charges use high explosives that are designed not to spontaneously detonate--adding a fresh set of charges, and going from there).

  6. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    On the other hand, I recall the efforts to demolish the WWII-era Nazi Slave Labour-built fort in St Peter Port on Guernsey all came to naught. I seem to remember a story at the time of the whole fort lifting off its foundation and just crashing back down again otherwise undamaged after a particularly ambitious explosive "demolition".

    1. Steve Evans

      Re: Bah!

      I remember hearing about that from a Guernsey telecom engineer... The whole thing remained intact and the entire blast just excavated a cavern underneath it... Which it promptly sat back onto, slightly wonky.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Bah!

        Alderney Camps

        Organisation Todt work: German Socialistic Quality Product!

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Bah!

      So, not quite as much of a balls up as this one then?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plenty of bombs

    did go off in Pompey. In the 1960s when I lived there, it looked like the Luftwaffe had been there last week, and there was plenty of free parking.

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Plenty of bombs

      I still live in pompey and it still does look like that... although the bastards now charge for the parking.....

  8. John Crisp

    AFAIAA (according to my now deceased grandad) munitions can go one of two ways. Safe as putty. Or not.

    Living on the coast just up from the Thames the amount of stuff still dragged up is amazing. Some of it still fizzes.....

    Biggest problem is the good ship SS Richard Montgomery.... might make a mess of a few surrounding properties (would the destruction of Canvey Island be considered a loss ?) if it's found to be the touchy feely type :-)

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Richard_Montgomery

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-ss-richard-montgomery-information-and-survey-reports

    I was trying to find an equivalent explosive force or some such.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Largest_artificial_non-nuclear_explosions

    1. Steve Evans

      The blast wave from the SS Richard Montgomery is one problem, the resulting wave, trapped in the narrow confines of the Thames is another... Windows get blown out first, then the water comes in... Nice!

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "I was trying to find an equivalent explosive force or some such."

      Texas City (1947) probably ranks near the top. Combination of munitions and a crap ton of ammonium nitrate fertilizer aboard one ship that caught fire, detonated, chained with nitrate nearby and basically leveled the city.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They also dredged up a torpedo recently.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3782898/Portsmouth-harbour-sealed-train-ferry-services-cancelled-unexploded-TORPEDO-water.html

  10. Chad H.

    >>>>Bomb disposal officers actually detonated the bomb at 7am this morning. The event was such a damp squib that they assumed it hadn’t worked and returned for another go at 11am. They then discovered the earlier attempt had actually worked.®

    The Officer in charge of the incident Marvin T Martian was quoted as saying "Where's the Kaboom? Where is the Earth shattering kaboom?"

  11. ultrastarx1

    hmmm this possibly explains a message on a co workers voice mail from the bosses missus, 'come round at lunch, due to damp squib'.

  12. Lars Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Kaboom and fish

    Outside my summer cottage in the archipelago there is a channel that was made deeper one summer. All granite and fairly loud explosions. After explosions seagulls would go out to get the dead fish floating around. Later after the work was done in the autumn, the seagulls would fly out to the same place after each thunderstorm, optimists.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They're All Wet

    Did you say "Damp Squid"?

  14. GitMeMyShootinIrons

    Where's the kaboom?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8rYotiiFP8

  15. M7S
    Coat

    "I(r)on Cannon"

    Low orbit?

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