World War II Torpedo Found at Scapa Flow

Posted by Eric Haun
Wednesday, March 02, 2016
Naval divers return to the wreck of HMS Royal Oak to replace her White Ensign (Photo: UK Royal Navy)

U.K. Royal Navy bomb disposal experts have found a German torpedo from World War II at Scapa Flow in the Orkneys.

 
The torpedo was found on the seabed March 1 after a recent routine sonar survey on behalf of Orkney Islands Council. It was also filmed using an underwater remote-operated vehicle (ROV).
 
Footage showed a seven-meter-long suspected torpedo and Northern Diving Group (NDG) were soon alerted to the incident. 
 
Lieutenant Commander Tony Hampshire who is Commanding Officer of NDG and who attended the scene, said, “After examining the video footage of the item and conducting dives to inspect it on the seabed we believe the object is a Second World War German torpedo.”
 
“There is currently no threat to shipping or the public and so we have marked the location so that we can return in the near future and safely dispose of it,” Hampshire said.
 
It is thought that more than 50 German warships were scuttled in the area at the end of the First World War in attempt to keep them out of allied hands. It is also the site of the wreck of HMS Royal Oak, the Revenge Class battleship which was torpedoed by a German U-Boat on October 14, 1939, with the loss of 883 lives. 
 
Brian Archibald, Orkney Island Council’s Harbor Master and Head of Marine Services, said, “Now that we know that the torpedo is German, we believe it is highly likely that it was among those fired at HMS Royal Oak by the U47 in October 1939.”
 
“It’s location in Scapa Flow is in the vicinity of the area where, from historical accounts, U47 is thought to have carried out the attack,” Archibald said
 
Hampshire said, “While it wouldn’t be safe to preserve the torpedo whole, once we return to the scene we will explore the possibility of preserving one of the fins or perhaps a propeller blade for historical interest.”
 
Following discussions with the Royal Navy team, the no-anchorage area already in place around the area where the torpedo was found is to be reduced to a 500 meter radius with diving also prohibited. 
 
The dive down to examine the torpedo was an especially poignant one for the Northern Diving Group team. Each year, in an act of Remembrance, members of the unit travel to Orkney in order to visit the wreck of HMS Royal Oak. 
 
“Northern Diving Group has the honor of diving and placing the White Ensign on the wreck of Royal Oak,” said Lieutenant Commander Hampshire. “It is a task which the Group has conducted for many years and one which we are proud to participate in.
 
“To think that this torpedo could have been one fired at HMS Royal Oak brings the tragedy home. Those who served with the ship were incredibly brave individuals.”

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