Dangerous potential of depth charge revealed
Military expert warns of risks of unexploded device
A military explosives expert has said that the suspected depth charge found near a North Sea oil platform has the same explosive power as a car bomb.
Author and former bomb disposal officer Chris Hunter warned that subsurface munitions with degraded fuses can detonate “at the slightest movement”.
But the ex-Army man, who has experience of maritime and counterterrorism operations, said such cases were “very rare”.
The device was discov- ered around 110 yards from CNR International’s Ninian Central platform, which had 196 staff members on board earlier this week.
An exclusion zone has
“Consistent with a depth charge with a load of 130-150kg TNT”
been set up around the bomb and disposal plans are being put in place.
It was said to be “consistent” with a depth charge with a potential explosive load of 130-150kg of TNT. A CNR spokesman said a specialist company had classed the device as “safe” and that it posed “no risk to personnel or the environment”.
Major Hunter said all bomb disposal operations had the same priorities – to preserve life and property and return conditions to normal as soon as possible.
He said depth charges were “designed to explode without coming into contact” with their target – instead creating a “wall” of water to damage them.
Mr Hunter said: “If the depth charge was to detonate and the bubble travelled towards the offshore energy installation and smashed against the platform then that could cause potentially critical failure, which obviously would be catastrophic.”
Mr Hunter said there could be significant “consequences to human life”.
He said bomb disposal specialists would be weighing up a number of options for removing the depth charge – with moving it somewhere safer for a controlled explosion probably the favoured one.
STEELY NERVES: Chris Hunter demonstrates the skill and clear-headedness necessary when he worked as an Army bomb disposal expert
Major Chris Hunter