Dan­ger­ous po­ten­tial of depth charge re­vealed

Mil­i­tary ex­pert warns of risks of un­ex­ploded de­vice

The Press and Journal (Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY MARK LAMMEY

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

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