World War II Mine Caught By Icelandic Fishermen Skip to content
Photo: Icelandic Coast Guard.

World War II Mine Caught By Icelandic Fishermen

A fishing trawler discovered an unexploded mine off the coast of Iceland yesterday. The mine is believed to be German and date back to World War II.

The Icelandic Coast Guard received a call yesterday afternoon when a trawler caught an unexploded mine in its fishing gear. The Coast Guard’s command centre requested that the ship return to harbour in Sandgerði and dispatched the explosive ordnance disposal unit. When the boat landed, the crew evacuated, and the EOD unit prepared to move the mine from the ship with floatation devices. The Coast Guard’s inflatable boat then towed the mine 1.5 km (just under a mile) from the harbour and placed it at a depth of 10 meters (33 feet). A decision was made to postpone the detonation until the morning light and better sailing conditions.

The mine will be detonated by the Coast Guard’s bomb disposal experts. They believe it’s the explosive core of a World War II-era German torpedo. It likely contains around 300kg (661lbs) of explosives, so Sandgerði residents will probably notice the explosion. Icelandic fishing ships rarely discover such powerful bombs. The Icelandic Coast Guard has issued a warning asking boats to keep a distance of two nautical miles from the bomb disposal location and stay away from the Sandgerði harbour channel.

During World War II, several mines were places in the ocean around Iceland, according to the Icelandic Coast Guard. The British tried to close sailing routes to the Atlantic by placing mine belts between Iceland and Scotland and between Iceland and Greenland. The British also placed mines in some fjords. The mines could explode if a ship disturbed their magnetic fields or touched them. Even a ship’s noise could set them off. The Germans placed mines around Iceland as well. A specially equipped german U-boat took three trips to Iceland, bringing 66 mines each trip, which were placed in Faxaflói, Breiðafjörður, and off the east coast. It’s a common misunderstanding that these bombs lose their efficacy with age. Explosives get more sensitive with age and safety gear corrodes, meaning that the bomb requires less to set it off than initially intended. The Icelandic Coast Guard’s bomb disposal unit receives several calls every year due to WWII-era objects.

Icelandic Coast Guard

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