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Royal Navy bomb disposal team called to Deal and find 19th century weapon

A suspicious device destroyed by bomb disposal experts in Deal turned out to be a 19th century weapon.

The Royal Navy has confirmed the object, lifted by accident at sea by a dredger, was a non-explosive bullet-like missile from the 1860s.

The 19th century shell. Picture: Royal Navy
The 19th century shell. Picture: Royal Navy

A spokesman said: "It was positively identified as a 12.5inch Palliser round, weighing approximately 350 to 400kg."

The weapon was first found in the Dover Strait last Sunday.

Time was taken in moving the object and the preparation for its destruction and it was finished off by a controlled explosion on the sea bed off Deal next day.

Passers-by first realised something was amiss from the sight of a Royal Navy bomb disposal vehicle outside Deal Pier.

The Royal Navy has now given a a full account of the actions it took.

The shell stuck on the dredger head. Picture: Royal Navy
The shell stuck on the dredger head. Picture: Royal Navy

It had been alerted at 4pm on Sunday to reports of a dredging vessel with the ordnance stuck to its dredger head, the part that digs the seabed.

The navy team arrived at Deal from Portsmouth at 10pm.

They liaised with HM Coastguard and set out in an inflatable vessel at 11.45pm for reconnaissance on the ordnance.

They boarded the ship just after midnight on Monday and positively identified the object, which was one metre (3ft 3in) long and 32cm (just over 1ft) in diameter.

The Navy spokesman explained: "Duty watch, in conjunction with ship’s company, worked through the night to remove the ordnance from the dredger head and lower it to the seabed.

The coastguard and bomb disposal vehicles at Deal. Picture: Jim Wheeler
The coastguard and bomb disposal vehicles at Deal. Picture: Jim Wheeler

"After suitable rest they returned on scene to dispose of the ordnance with an explosive charge."

The demolition took place at 2.15pm on Monday.

The Palliser shot was a cast iron armour-piercing British weapon, originally meant to be fired on warships but later also used for land warfare.

It was a non-explosive type, with destruction caused by its weight and the power of its firing, like a cannonball.

It was first commissioned in 1867 and phased out of service in 1909 for naval and fortress use and 1921 for land-only use.

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