The Magazine for Underwater Professionals

Divers recover 'bouncing bombs'

12th September 2017

Highball bomb being raised from Loch Striven. Photo: Henry Paisey/BSAC

A specialised piece of underwater scanning equipment has been used to locate and identify World War Two ‘bouncing bombs’ in a Scottish loch.


GSE Rentals, part of Unique System UK, provided the scanning equipment and engineering support to produce sonar images of the seabed at the dive site currently being explored by the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC).


The scuba divers have completed a mission to raise two historic Highball bouncing bombs like those used by the Dambusters squadron on the successful raid of the Eder Dam. Footage of the Highball bombs being tested was used in the World War Two film classic The Dambusters.


The iconic Highball bombs were recovered in perfect condition by the divers.


Mike Osterberger, senior engineer at Unique, said: “We are pleased that the quality of the images allowed us to identify not only a debris field with a number of Highballs but additional debris that we believe to be side charges from an X-Craft type submarine.”


The scanner was pulled by a workboat from fellow Scottish company Aspect Surveys. Sub Sea Tooling Services, also based in Scotland, provided an ROV to assist with filming the searches.


Around 200 Highballs have lain at the bottom of Loch Striven in Argyll for almost 75 years since they were tested by the Royal Navy for use against enemy ships and for the Eder Dam raid in the Second World War.


The bombs, which are inactive, were secured by the divers ready for lifting by the Royal Navy and then winched to the surface before being packed, ready for transport in wet tanks containing a special saltwater solution to prevent them from corroding.


The recovered artifacts will be put on display at the Brooklands Museum in Surrey, UK, and the de Havilland Aircraft Museum in Hertfordshire, UK, in time for the 75th anniversary of the Dambusters raid in 2018.

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