| 08 July 2012
Ramora UK, a leading global provider of bomb disposal services, has successfully removed the second of two WWII pipemines that had been buried underground for some 60 years on land that currently forms part of the BAE Systems site at Cowes on the Isle of Wight.
It is believed that these mines - known as pipemines due to their construction – were laid when the site was occupied by RAF Somerton during the war so that the airfield could be rendered unusable in the event of an enemy invasion. Most of them were removed by MOD bomb disposal teams when the airfield was decommissioned but it seems that two of them were missed. It was only when BAE Systems undertook geophysical surveys in order to prepare the land for commercial sale that the existence of these remaining pipemines came to light.
The first mine, which was located close to the Island’s main gas pipe, was detonated safely last month. But work had to be suspended on dealing with the second one as it was discovered to be some 2 metres larger than expected with a significant bowing in the centre. However, during overnight operations that took place on 29th/30th June, this mine was also successfully and safely detonated.
Ramora UK and BAE Systems worked closely with Hampshire Constabulary and the Isle of Wight Council in both the planning and execution of the operation to ensure that all necessary safety measures were in place. These included a 200 metre radius cordon which was manned by the Police throughout and some local road closures around the Somerton roundabout junction with Newport Road, Saunders Road and Three Gates Road. All those affected by the road closures were given at least four weeks’ notice and diversion signs were deployed. The local media were also kept informed.
The work was undertaken by highly trained Ramora UK staff, including former military personnel, using Ramora UK proven bomb disposal methodology.
David Welch MIExpE, Managing Director of Ramora UK said: “The success of this operation demonstrates how expert commercial operators, working closely with the relevant authorities, can safely undertake work that has previously been carried out only by the military. We are confident that this has set a strong precedent for new ways of tackling all forms of bomb disposal in the future.”
Paul Harris, BAE Systems Real Estate Solutions said: “Following a great team effort between BAE Systems, Ramora UK, Isle of Wight Council and Hampshire Constabulary the second WWII pipe mine was successfully removed at the weekend. This brings to a conclusion several months of careful planning and consultation with the local community and I am pleased that we are now able to move forward with our plans to sell the land for commercial use which is great news for the residents of the Island.”