First World War torpedo to be blown up after 99 years on a sunken German submarine on a seabed off the Sunderland coast

HMS Blyth
HMS Blyth
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A First World War torpedo discovered after spending 99 years on a sunken German submarine on a seabed off the Sunderland coast will be blown up tomorrow in a controlled explosion.

The crew of HMS Blyth will conduct a controlled explosion to render the torpedo safe.

It comes after the Sandown-class minehunter, using her sophisticated sonar, a remote controlled ‘Seafox’ submersible and her team of Explosive Ordinance Disposal divers, surveyed the wreck of the German submarine, the UC 32.

Sunk with the loss of all but three hands in 1917, the submarine was on a mission to lay a minefield off Sunderland when she was destroyed by the explosion of one of her own devices.

The wreck of UC 32 was quickly discovered and has been inspected over the intervening decades for signs that her deadly cargo could pose a threat to shipping and fishermen.

HMS Blyth discovered that, since the last inspection by Royal Navy divers in 1996, the wreck has degraded to the extent that a loaded torpedo tube now lies exposed.

The controlled demolition of the torpedo’s warhead will take place at 9am.

Royal Navy divers will employ a small amount of plastic explosives; however the potential high order detonation of the torpedo warhead rmeans there will be a maritime and aviation exclusion zone in the approaches to the Port of Sunderland.

Members of the public ashore are reminded they may witness a small explosion, and are asked not to be alarmed.

HMS Blyth’s Commanding Officer Lt Cdr Peter Higgins AFC said: "I am proud to see the wealth of experience and training possessed by my Crew put to use to keep Britain’s coastal waters safe for all who use the seas."