Monday, June 26, 2006


Dive bids to solve wreck mystery


June 26, 2006

HMS Lion under fire from German
warships at the Battle of Jutland.

Archaeologists are to investigate a wreck reported to be that of a German warship previously said to have been salvaged and scrapped.

Records claim the V81, which was at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, was raised in 1937 after foundering off the Caithness coast 85 years ago.

However, members of Caithness Diving Club said it was still on the seabed.

Archaeologist Simon Davidson, of Nottingham University, said: "It's a wreck that shouldn't be there."

The suspected wreck of the World War I destroyer is one of 12, dating from 1890 to 1942, which will be examined by a team from Nottingham University's underwater archaeology research centre.

They intend to work closely with Caithness Diving Club.

Mr Davidson said information on the fate of the V81 was "cloudy".

The destroyer was part of the German High Seas Fleet which fought the Royal Navy in the Battle of Jutland, off Denmark's coast.

Some 8,648 British and German sailors lost their lives in one day's fighting on 31 May into 1 June 1916.

In 1919, the vessel and 73 other German warships were scuttled in Scapa Flow, Orkney.

Many were later salvaged, including the V81 whose sister vessel the V83 remains submerged at Scapa Flow.

"The V81 had been beached, but was re-floated in 1921 and was being towed to Rosyth when it hit fog off the Caithness coast," said Mr Davidson.

"The tow was lost and V81 broke free and it ran aground just north of Sinclair Bay and there it lay for several years."

Mr Davidson said it was supposedly salvaged and taken away for scrap in 1937, but in 1985 divers reported to have found it wrecked on the seabed.

Archaeologists plan to officially verify the ship by comparing its measurements and any serial numbers with those on the V83.

David Steele, of Caithness Diving Club, said it was in shallow water in an area covered in kelp.

He said club members had dived the wreck in recent weeks.

The underwater research is one of seven archaeology projects running across Caithness this summer to investigate its Neolithic, Iron Age and war-time history.

Experts will investigate the area's ancient cairns, brochs, crannogs, castles and shipwrecks.


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