Thursday 12 July 2012

Scapa Flow war wrecks mapped

What lies beneath...

New marine survey reveals Scapa Flow wrecks in unprecedented detail

A new sub-sea survey of Scapa Flow at Orkney has mapped nearly twenty important historic wrecks, revealing previously unseen detail and contributing valuable information about the history of this important wartime naval base.

Historic Scotland commissioned Wessex Archaeology to carry out the survey over two days in partnership with Netsurvey, contractors for the Ministry of Defence. Remarkable new details have been found on scuttled merchant ships from the First and Second World Wars, a German submarine, and a trawler used to operate boom defences at the entrance to Scapa Flow.

The results, available online at were derived from high resolution sonar surveys on the sea bed, and build on earlier work from the ScapaMap project in 2001 and 2006, and Ministry of Defence studies undertaken to record the wreck of the battleship HMS Royal Oak.

Philip Robertson, Historic Scotland’s Deputy Head of Scheduling and Marine said: “The surveys are adding significantly to our understanding of what remains of the famous history of the wartime naval base of Scapa Flow, and the defence of the naval anchorage.

“We hope the results will be of interest to the thousands of recreational divers who visit Scapa Flow every year, and that those who don’t dive will also enjoy this insight into the heritage that survives beneath the waves.”

Paul Baggaley, Wessex Archaeology’s Head of Geophysics, said: “We hope this survey of 18 sites has helped bring new information to light, and that it will provide a useful basis for efforts to monitor the condition of the wrecks in Scapa Flow, and conserve them for future generations to enjoy.”

The survey findings will help Historic Scotland to consider the case for a Historic Marine Protected Area, to improve protection for Scapa Flow’s most important marine heritage sites under the Scottish Parliament’s new marine legislation.

Any proposals to create a Marine Protected Area for sites in Scapa Flow would be subject to discussions with stakeholders in Orkney, and formal consultation processes.

Burra Sound at Scapa Flow 

Rotherfield wreck in Burra Sound, at Scapa Flow

(With thanks to Paul Spence at Historic Scotland)


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