A BOMB alert at Southampton docks has been called off after a suspected shell turned out to be a gas pipe.

Workmen were preparing to tarmac a large area near the container terminal this morning when they unearthed what they thought was an explosive device from the Second World War.

The green curved object was found one-a-half-metres below the surface next to Dock Gate 20.

Police evacuated the area, set up a 100-metre exclusion zone and ordered dozens of workers to wait outside the site while they waited for a military bomb disposal team to deal with the emergency.

But the ordnance team took one look at the object at the centre of the drama and declared it was a harmless pipe.

A police spokesman confirmed that the area was returning to normal.