Photo: Rebecca Landberg/The Swedish Armed Forces.
When the Swedish Armed Forces arrived at the mine site, they could tell it was a German EMA mine. It looked like a “Disney mine” – round, with Hertz horns sticking out. Although it was old and rusty, it could be traced back to World War II. Many mines were laid far out at sea, and some have become worn and drifted in toward land.
An estimated 170,000 mines were laid in the Baltic Sea and North Sea during the first and second world wars, and despite mine clearance operations some 50,000 of them still remain in these waters.
“They often still contain explosives, but the detonation device itself has usually stopped working. And they don’t pose a great danger where they are today,” says Melina Westerberg, communications manager at the Fourth Naval Flotilla of the Swedish Armed Forces.
The navy neutralised the mine during the autumn. The mine was just a few hundred metres from the wreckage of the warship Resande Man. Since the mine had landed in a small bay with stones all around, the risk of damage to the wreck was negligible. Navy divers, together with the Museum of Wreck’s maritime archaeologists and the Coast Guard, inspected the wreck both before and after the detonation.
“We see no sign that the shipwreck was damaged by the explosion,” says Patrik Höglund, maritime archaeologist at the museum.
Melina Westerberg doesn’t want to worry anyone, but since the risk still exists of getting close to an explosive she stresses that anyone who detects ammunition should follow these three pieces of advice: