National Grid work on subsea cabling discovers buried bomber

A World War II era bomber found by National Grid engineers is now being lifted from the sea bottom off the British coast in time for the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

This week, specialist divers and archaeologists completed an operation to retrieve the wreckage of a 1943 Fairey Barracuda Torpedo Bomber. The three-seater plane (believed to be No. BV739), part of 810 Squadron Royal Navy Air Station, based at Lee-On-Solent is believed to have got into difficulty shortly after taking off for its test flight before crashing 500m from the coast in Portsmouth.

It was found by National Grid engineers last summer during a seabed survey ahead of the construction of new subsea electricity cable between England and France.

“It’s not every day you get the chance to play a role in an operation like this and it is very lucky to have found the plane in such a small search area,” said David Luetchford, of National Grid. “We surveyed a 180-meter-wide area along the cable route and if we had chosen a slightly different route, there is a good chance the plane would never have been found.”

The cable, called an interconnector, will be buried in the seabed and will stretch for 240 kilometers between Fareham, Portsmouth and Normandy, France and deliver cleaner, cheaper and more secure energy for UK consumers. The UK government has targeted 9.5 GW of additional interconnector capacity in its Clean Growth Strategy.

The Barracuda wreckage is the only one to have ever been found in one piece and the last remaining aircraft of its kind in the UK. 

“Our team has been working closely with all those involved to ensure that any risks to heritage assets on the seafloor are mitigated,” Wessex Archaeology lead archaeologist Euan McNeil said. “This aircraft is a rare find and a fantastic opportunity to understand more about a piece of wartime technology.”


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