ROV survey of HMS Hampshire wreck site

20150814 Postcards-Hampshire
Postcards of HMS Hampshire

It is hard to believe that on Sunday it will only be four weeks until centenary commemorations take place to mark the loss of HMS Hampshire and 737 men, close to the Orkney coast, during the First World War. The restored Kitchener Memorial at Marwick Head will be officially unveiled, together with the new HMS Hampshire wall engraved with the names of all those lost.

Meanwhile, we have some exciting news in today from the University of the Highlands and Islands about a survey of the wreck due to take place tomorrow. Their press release below explains all.

Graham Brown

HMS Hampshire condition assessment

HMS Hampshire struck a mine at 19.40 on the 5th June 1916 while transporting Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, to Archangel in northern Russia for a meeting with Tsar Nicholas II. She sank within 20 minutes, with the loss of 737 lives, including Lord Kitchener. Only 12 of the company survived. The German U-boat U-75 laid the mine on the 29th of May 1916 off Marwick Head in Orkney.

HMS Hampshire, a Devonshire class armoured cruiser, was completed in 1905. Joining the Grand Fleet in January 1915 she played a minimal role in the Battle of Jutland from the 31st May to the 1st June 1916, before being assigned to the transport of Lord Kitchener.

Presently, the wreck lies upside down in approximately 60 metres of water, surrounded by a large debris field. The HMS Hampshire site was designated in 2002, under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986. There have previously only been two remote surveys of the wreck since the salvage activities of 1977 to 1983.

The condition assessment of HMS Hampshire will be the first extensive mapping of the wreck site since her sinking in 1916. It is a collaborative project between ORCA Marine, University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute and Seatronics, an Acteon company.

It aims to assess the condition of the wreck a hundred years after she tragically sank, documenting the impact of salvage activities and environmental factors on the integrity of the remains.

Sandra Henry, University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, Marine Archaeologist, said: “It is really significant in the run up to the centenary of the HMS Hampshire to carry out a condition survey and map the extent of the wreck site. This survey is being undertaken as a mark of respect and remembrance for those who lost their lives aboard, and all those who lost their lives at sea during the First World War.”

Alistair Coutts, Senior Sales & Business Development Manager, Seatronics, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating on this exciting project on this historic anniversary. Our aim is to use our Predator inspection class ROV to survey the wreckage along with the latest 2D and 3D scanning technology to identify key areas of interest, providing informative imagery and insight into the current conditions of the site.”

This project has received funding and sponsorship from Interface, Orkney Islands Council and Northlink Ferries.

End of UHI press release

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