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Ordtek Search for Second World War bombs in the Thames

Ahead of the new ferry terminal construction at Woolwich, Ordtek are working with Briggs Marine to look for unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the River Thames.

Specialist divers are being sent to the bottom of the Thames in Woolwich on a hunt for unexploded Second World War bombs after this area of Woolwich was highlighted in Ordtek’s desk based study to have a risk of UXO.

The site has already undergone a detailed survey to help pin point where bombs could be within the area. And starting next week, the divers will be examining eight sites along the Thames to search for bombs.

TfL said that while it is unlikely any live explosives will be found, the sheer number of bombs dropped near the Thames during the war means it has to play it safe.

If any UXOs are found lying still unexploded in the Thames, skilled teams will work together to dispose of it safely.

Once the dives are completed, new state-of-the-art boats will be brought in that TfL said will extend the life of the crossing for decades.

The current boats are over 50 years old and will be replaces by the two new ones coming in from a Polish shipyard, costing around £10 million each.

The boats are named the Woollacott, named after a former deckhand who died working on the ferry, and Dame Vera Lynn, the legendary singer from east London.

They will come with specialised hybrid engines allowing them to run on electricity generated by the motors, making them environmentally friendly.

The work is being scheduled for the next three weeks, mostly out of rush-hour to keep disruption to ferry services to a minimum, though there are expected to be some times when the ferry will not run.

Dave Fisher, TfL’s head of London river services, said: ‘’These brand new environmentally-friendly ferries will give foot passengers and motorists a much-improved way of crossing the river, and help provide a cleaner ait for Londoners.’’

‘’Next week’s dives help pave the way for work at the terminal to begin, and while the dives may sound exiting, we’re just being extra diligent before starting the major construction work.’’

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