As police hunted for the bomb team amid tightened security at ports, detectives said the lorry, seized at Heysham ferry terminal on Tuesday, was unlikely to be 'clean' of clues.
The white, flatbed Leyland Freighter had made the passage from Warrenpoint terminal, Co Down, without a driver, a common practice. It was to have been collected at Heysham by another driver, and positioned at a target for detonation after the addition of a detonator and a small quantity of commercial explosive.
The Royal Ulster Constabulary said the explosive mixture, based on fertiliser, was too bulky to have escaped detection in Northern Ireland. The bomb was probably made and packed in concealed compartments on the lorry in the Irish Republic. Warrenpoint is the closest ferry terminal to the Co Down border.
The explosives had the potential to cause damage unprecedented in Britain. The mixture was unstable and would have been used within a short time after its arrival, almost certainly in London.
The lorry crossed on the Merchant Ferries vessel Bravery. Lancashire Police said its interception was the result of routine checks at Heysham. Whoever meant to meet the lorry probably fled at the sight of the blanket security operation.
A bomb exploded outside the home of Sam McCartney, a member of the Democratic Unionist Party, in Loup, Co Tyrone, yesterday. No one was injured.Reuse content