Navy destroys German mine off the coast of Sardinia


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The Independent Online

A Royal Navy warship has destroyed a Second World War mine discovered off the coast of Sardinia.

HMS Ledbury, based at Portsmouth, Hampshire, was carrying out Nato anti-mine exercises in the Mediterranean when the 70-year-old device was spotted on the ship's sonar at a depth of 141ft (43m).

Two divers from the minehunter, Able Seaman Josh Spibey and Lieutenant Sean Heaton, were sent to confirm the find and they discovered it was a German mine measuring 5ft (1.5m) in diameter and it would have contained 739lb (335kg) of explosives.

Having gained permission from the Italian authorities, Ledbury's dive team, working with their Italian counterparts, placed 4lb (1.8kg) packs of plastic explosives on the mine in order to detonate it.

Ledbury's commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Tony Williams, said: "The discovery and disposal of this mine has demonstrated once again the professionalism and effectiveness of the Royal Navy's mine countermeasure capability.

"I am immensely proud of the efforts of my team and this is a fitting culmination to a challenging deployment for Ledbury working with our Nato partners."

Lt Cdr Williams described how the explosion caused a shockwave to rise to the surface, making the sea "boil" and creating a large crater in the seabed which threw sand and mud into the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean.