The winner of the Military Awards 2017 'Hero At Home Unit' category are Southern Diving Unit 2, a team of Royal Navy divers who destroyed various unexploded bombs to make Portsmouth Harbour safe.
The team at the Royal Navy’s Southern Diving Unit 2 spend their days destroying bombs that have the potential to cause deaths in British waters.
Over the past year, the team was involved in a major effort to complete dredging works to prepare Portsmouth Harbour for the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain's new Aircraft Carrier.
Chief Diver Kris Fenwick, 2IC Southern Diving Unit 2 said: “From one large German ground mine that was discovered in the entrance of the harbour, which was the first major job back in November ’15 and then it carried on right through till the last job.
“We disposed of a German which was in the gripper arm of the dredger just off Portsmouth Harbour train station.”
Speaking of the same mine, AB Diver Alessandro Bonato said: “The mine itself was actually in the claw of the dredger so we had to attach the lifting bag on the deck of the ship which was actually a new technique that we had to adapt there.”
“Once it was in the water, we were able to tow it out… towards the Isle of White and then… light the safety fuse.”
The ordnance discovered during the dredging works includes 500lb German SC250 bombs, as well as a British bomb and a torpedo.
It was down to the work of Southern Diving Unit 2 that these were made safe in controlled explosions, with divers having to work in conditions with little visibility to identify and remove the deadly devices.
AB Diver Liam Boardman said: “If there is something, we’re obviously not going too aggressive into it.”
“There’s no visibility going down, so it’s just trying to go slowly working your way round, making a thorough search so that we can identify anything that could be there."
Southern Diving Unit 2, based in Portsmouth, has deployed, night and day, to remove these sorts of highly dangerous explosives and take them out of the harbour for safe destruction.
During each of these incidents, the highly trained professionals safely evacuated the area and removed the danger from the public, at great personal risk.