Underwater survey of World War I German shipwrecks at Scapa Flow

Archaeologists surveyed the scrap sites of the German’s World War One High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow, Orkney, Scotland.

Underwater survey (by Bob Anderson)

The ships date back to the end of World War I when the German High Seas Fleet was towed to Scapa Flow after surrendering. The fleet spent several months in captivity, but in June 1919 the signal was given to deliberately sink the ships rather than allow them to be seized. Of the 74 German ships in Scapa Flow, 15 of the 16 capital ships, 5 of the 8 cruisers, and 32 of the 50 destroyers were sunk. Warships in the fleet were scuttled, before being raised and scrapped for the metal.

Shipwrecks on the sea bed (by Bob Anderson)

Salvage work in the 1920s to 1940s raised battleships, battlecruisers and destroyers from the seabed for scrapping at dockyard sites such as Rosyth on the Firth of Forth. Parts of these ships still lie on the seabed today, and they were the subject of archaeological investigation. The research aimed to shed further light on the debris and to identify from which ships the wreckage originated. The dive concentrated on sites located through a side scan sonar survey completed earlier. Archaeologists recorded and documented extensive remains of the First World War fleet that still lie on the seabed.

Survey of the scrap site (by Bob Anderson)

According to the researchers the conditions underwater were perfect and visibility was good, allowing the divers to take some excellent photographs and video footage while recording and surveying the wreckage left behind following the inter-war salvage efforts on the scuttled German High Seas Fleet.

Details of one of the wreckages (by Bob Anderson)

(after BBC News, The Press and Journal, University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute & Bob Anderson)

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