The recent discovery of a 500-kilogram unexploded bomb in George V Dock, acted as a timely reminder of the importance of the work of the Royal Docks Management Authority, alongside the Met Police, the Royal Navy and the Port of London Authority.
The staff at RoDMA has been planning for this eventuality for months, as part of safety measures surrounding the work being carried out by London City Airport on its £400 million redevelopment.
“As you might expect from an area that was bombed so heavily during World War II there has been an operation underway for some time to examine areas where there could be potential UXOs [Unexploded Ordnance],” explains RoDMA Operations Manager, Miles Cole.
As it happened, this particular discovery was outside the routine operation, but the foresight shown by RoDMA and the other organisations meant the complicated process of transporting the UXO away from the Royal Docks for detonation went according to plan.
“An exclusion zone was identified so that the bomb could be safely transported by the navy by way of being floated on airbags,” explains Miles. “We had to train the navy to operate our locks, which is a difficult thing to learn in just a few hours. We brought the navy vessel in as a trial run, then let them take control of the situation. Having planned for this for months, we were delighted with the way all parties handled the situation.”
The disruption led to London City Airport being closed for 24 hours and the suspension of the DLR service. An evacuation zone of just over 200 metres was set up and some residents were placed in emergency accommodation by Newham Council.