Explosives experts are being sent to the bottom of the Thames in Woolwich on a hunt for unexploded Second World War bombs.

The specialist divers are searching the bed of the London river to clear the way for an upgrade the Woolwich ferry terminal.

Starting next Tuesday (November 21), the divers will be examining eight sights 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.

The major work being carried out involves moving the riverbed, which could dislodge any old bombs and potentially set them off.

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

The dives are being carried out by Briggs Marine, which runs the ferry for TfL, and OrdTek, a company specialising in unexploded bombs. 

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 replaced 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 cleaner air for Londoners.

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