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SHIPWRECKS AROUND THE WORLD


SHIPWRECKS IN THE ENGLISH CHANNEL


Over many years I have sport fished many wrecks in the English Channel from Portland Bill to the Isles of Scilly, from the Ushant to the Channel Islands. I have also towed a magnetometer for hours and hours searching for new wrecks.

In my early years I gave a lot of the information to the Wreck Section of Hydrographic Department at Taunton until they became more of a commercial entity. You will probably notice my name on many printouts, like that of the
"FLYING ENTERPRISE" which I located on the 28th March 1977 long before anyone had ever dived it. I have also located many other unknown wrecks, also others, as an example the "TORRIDGE" - which was a British Armed Merchant steamer of 5,037 tons, which was located 5th July 1978 by magnetometer.



(Flying Enterprise -Picture courtesy Western Morning News)
 

Instead of producing our own database of wrecks I have teamed up with Jan Lettens who lives in Belgium to produce a great website called THE WRECKSITE. You can locate it by clicking on the picture below.

Not only does this
WRECKSITE show English Channel Wrecks but will include many around the coast of the UK & Ireland and now from around all coasts of the world. Updating this site takes time. However to make this a successful site which it already is we need the input from others in giving us wreck locations in there specific area. The days of secrecy are over unless you believe you have a wreck that no one knows. However would it not be better to share that information with everyone?

The site is FREE for all to use. However if you want more information for positions you have to pay a few euro's. If you can contribute please use the upload page to either enter new wrecks, photographs or correct any errors. Please do not let any information you may have disappear with time.


PLEASE NOTE: THE NEW WRECKSITE IS NOW AVAILABLE at www.wrecksite.eu

If you are thinking of sending a picture please read the COPYRIGHT NOTE BELOW:

COPYRIGHT LAW - PLEASE NOTE:

If the image is copyright then you must get the consent of the copyright holder. If it is out of copyright, i.e. more than 50 years after the death of the creator of the work then it's in the public domain and fair game. Those are the rules and to do anything else is to take on a liability.

I think the words which are effective here are those shown in red. Many people are of the opinion that copyright ceases after 50 years. This is not the case. Any doubt just ask us.

History is for all to enjoy and not to be lost on some obscure bookshelf. As an example you cannot copyright the HISTORY below - LATEST CHANNEL SHIPWRECK but you could have a copyright on any pictures.


LATEST UNITED KINGDOM SHIPWRECK NEWS-Updated 16th January 2008


MV Ice Prince
(Picture courtesy of the French Coastguard)

The MV Ice Prince was a Greek Registered 6,395 tons Motor Vessel of 328 feet in length. She sank on the 15th January 2008 after getting into trouble in severe weather in the English Channel. She was carrying a cargo of 5,260 tons of Swedish Red and White wood, 2,000 tons of which were being carried as deck cargo. It is believed the deck cargo shifted in heavy seas causing the vessel to list dramatically and eventually sink some 24hrs later. She was on route from Sweden to Egypt. The crew of 20 were rescued. After 11 hours there was a 5 mile trail of wood causing a hazard to shipping in the area. The wreck will be surveyed by the M.A.I.B later this week to assess whether there is a hazard to shipping.


MV Ice Prince
(Picture courtesy Maritime International)


THE ODYSSEY MARINE SAGA

All of that underneath that was reported, now appears to be untrue as Odyssey Marine were salvaging a Spanish Treasure Galleon. The contents of this salvage have now been returned to Spain under International Law. Odyssey Marine received nothing!

SALVAGE of the MERCHANT ROYAL and how the MERCHANT ROYAL set sail to disaster!

If the 17 tons of coins, gold ornaments and tableware had been brought ashore into the United Kingdom, Odyssey Marine of Tampa, Florida would have been obliged to inform the Government's Receiver of Wreck, which would probably have impounded the haul, triggering a potentially lengthy legal row about ownership rights.

Instead, the trove was secretly moved to the tax haven of Gibraltar. Odyssey Marine then chartered a jet to take hundreds of plastic containers brimming with coins to the United States, where they have been analysed by Nick Bruyer, an expert in antique coinage.

He said: "The find is unprecedented. I don't know of anything equal or comparable to it."

Salvage companies have spent years looking for the wreck of the Merchant Royal, known as the "Eldorado of the seas", which sank in bad weather near the Isles of Scilly in 1641.

Under salvage law, Odyssey Marine could get up to 90 per cent of the haul's value, although this may depend on whether other claimants come forward. With the treasure now on American soil, it is highly unlikely that Britain will seek a share of it. But experts believe that, as the cargo originally belonged to Spain, its government will have a better case.

Odyssey's Marines court filings include latitude and longitude coordinates, by which we have generated the above Google map of the shipwreck area. The find is thought to be centered around 49˚25'N and 6˚00'W with a radius of 5 nautical miles.

However, there may be individual claimants to deal with. The personal fortune of the Merchant Royals captain, John Limbrey, which he accrued through years of trading in the Caribbean, was believed lost when the ship sank in bad weather. At least one of his descendants is already understood to be making enquiries.

Odyssey's three salvage ships have been working to find the wreck site for two years, yet it was only this year that a US federal judge granted the firm exclusive salvage rights.

HISTORY OF THE MERCHANT ROYAL

The 700-ton Merchant Royal was built in Deptford, London, in 1627. She was owned by English merchants when she set sail from the Spanish colonies of San Domingo, in the West Indies, captained by John Limbrey.

In January 1637, armed with 32 bronze canons, she arrived successfully in Cadiz, southern Spain, where she rested until 1640. But during that time she began to leak badly and underwent extensive repairs.

The following summer, a ship employed to transport Spain's colonial loot - silver coins, ingots and gold - caught fire. The bullion had been put aside to pay for Spain's 30,000 strong army, which were stationed at the time in Flanders. Captain Limbrey volunteered to take the gold to Antwerp, on his way back to London.

The Merchant Royal set sail in late August 1641, trailed by her sister ship, the Dover Merchant. But during the journey she began to leak and rescuers were unable reach her in time.  Eighteen men drowned and 40 crew, including Capt Limbrey, had to be rescued by the Dover Merchant.

The loss of the treasure made headlines. Back in 1641, the ship's hold was equivalent to one-third of the national exchequer. Samuel Pepys refers to the event in his diary and proceedings in the House of Commons were interrupted for the news to be announced.

Several salvage teams have sought to recover her treasure over the years but all have failed until now. There was confusion as to where she had actually gone down, with conflicting eyewitness reports. Original papers relating to her final resting place state that witnesses on another ship calculated that it sank ten leagues (around 35 miles) from Land's End.

Odyssey Marine hunters have already recovered 17 tons of 17th-century gold and silver coins from the wreck - codenamed the Black Swan - worth at least £250million

Court records show that the company Odyssey Marine, based in Miami, believed that it had discovered the remains of a 17th Century merchant vessel. Odyssey, which used remote-control submarines - known as remote operation vehicles (ROVs) - to dive on the wreck, has remained silent about exactly where the treasure was found, or indeed which ship it came from.

The firm only revealed that the haul - codenamed Black Swan and containing 500,000 silver coins, hundreds of gold coins, worked gold and other artifacts - was discovered beyond any nation's territorial waters and in an area where many ships had gone down.

Shipping records show a period of intense activity at the end of last summer, when all three Odyssey ships - Odyssey Explorer, Ocean Alert and LEspoir - were regular visitors to Falmouth docks, Cornwall, United Kingdom.

Pilot Captain David Barnicoat was employed by all three ships on several occasions during 2005 and 2006, steering them in and out of Falmouth Bay. He said: "You couldn't sound the crew out. They were tight-lipped about everything. Other vessels would spot them off the Isles of Scilly flying "keep clear" signals, but they were working a huge area and you couldn't begin to guess the wreck location. I've been wondering for a long time when they would find the big one."

Crew members were also seen drinking in dockside bars around Falmouth, but when curious locals inquired about their activities any conversation was cut short.

Matt Reay, who runs The Front bar on Falmouth quay, said: "The crew weren't very forthcoming about what was going on. In fact, they kept their mouths shut. Knowing what we know now, you can understand why."

At another retreat popular with mariners, Rumours Wine Bar, proprietor Pat Harding said: "Some of the crew came in here a year ago. We worked out that they were looking for an important wreck but they just wouldn't talk about it."

Shipwreck expert Richard Larn, whose book Shipwrecks Of The British Isles is the definitive Lloyds of London reference manual, said he discussed the Merchant Royal with Odyssey co-founder Greg Stemm two years ago.

Mr Larn said: "He admitted that he was looking for the Merchant Royal but wouldn't say where he thought she was. Basically, his ships have been mowing up and down the ocean around the Isles of Scilly for two years. They would have found about 1,000 targets - including fishing vessels and wartime wrecks - and they must have checked out each one. This would have cost £50,000 per day. You are talking huge sums of money and you can see why they play their cards so close to their chest."

A spokesman for the Receiver of Wreck, part of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: "We have not been informed of any large treasure hoard being landed in the UK."

Although Odyssey Marine Exploration has insisted its loot was found in international water last night Kendall McDonald, a wreck expert, cast doubt on the claim. He said: "I expect it could have been found elsewhere. They were careful to say she was 40 miles off Land's End, but she was meant to be about 25 miles out. There's a possibility it could be closer in than that but they want to put the possibility of it being in British waters out of reach."

The Spanish Government have now authorised the capture of Odyssey Marines vessels by their warships, these are currently moored in Gibraltar but have to move through Spanish waters to leave. We will report any further actions.

10th June 2007


The Spanish Civil Guard has intercepted a boat operated by a US company amid a row over treasure from a shipwreck. The guard had been ordered by a Spanish judge to seize the vessel as soon as it left the British colony of Gibraltar.

Gibraltar officials and Odyssey Marine Exploration, which owns the ship, said Spain had boarded the ship illegally as it was in international waters.

Madrid suspects the sunken galleon may either have been Spanish or have gone down in Spanish waters. After leaving Gibraltar, the "OCEAN ALERT" was picked up at about 0700 GMT on Thursday off Europa Point and sent to the Spanish port of Algeciras to be searched, the Civil Guard said.

A spokesman for the governor of Gibraltar said the ship was in international waters at the time it was seized.

A lawyer for Odyssey, Allen von Spiegelfeld, said that Spain had not sought permission to board "OCEAN ALERT" from officials in Panama, where it is registered.

13th July 2007


SPAIN RELEASES ODYSSEY MARINE'S "OCEAN ALERT"

The US treasure-hunting ship “OCEAN ALERT” which was arrested by the Spanish Navy, has been cleared to leave port.

Spanish authorities suspect the discovery might have been made in their territorial waters. But Gibraltar disputes the claim, saying the ship had been boarded in international waters.

The "OCEAN ALERT" was stopped and boarded by Spanish police after leaving the British colony. It was then escorted to the Spanish port of Algeciras, where crew members were searched and computer equipment confiscated.

Acting on the orders of a judge, the police were hoping to pinpoint the location of a shipwreck which in May yielded half a million silver coins, worth $500m (£244m).

The salvage company has refused to say where it made the haul. Initial speculation held that it was found off the coast of Cornwall in south-west England. However some Spanish politicians there suspect the mysterious wreck is of Spanish origin, or was found in Spanish territorial waters.

Neither the police nor the vessel's American owners - Odyssey Marine Exploration - will confirm what anything, was found during the Spanish search. The American crew of the, Ocean Alert were expecting to be stopped and even had a lawyer on board. It is understood that some confiscated items, including computer hard drives, have yet to be returned.

The dispute became a three-way diplomatic incident when Britain complained to the Spanish foreign ministry, arguing that Madrid did not have the right under shipping laws to intercept a vessel in international waters.

18th July 2007


Spain seized the "ODYSSEY EXPLORER" -- owned by Odyssey Marine Exploration based Tampa, Florida -- as it sailed out of port in the British colony of Gibraltar on Tuesday 16th October 2007.

Armed Spanish government vessels were waiting for the "ODYSSEY EXPLORER" when it reached 6.4 kilometers (4 miles) off Gibraltar's shore and entered what Spain considers its territorial waters.

But "ODYSSEY EXPLORER'S" captain, Sterling Vorus, told the Spaniards he considered his ship to be in International waters, Odyssey owner Greg Stemm said.

The Spanish vessels forced the "ODYSSEY EXPLORER" to dock at Spain's nearby port of Algeciras, a Civil Guard spokesman said. Greg Stemm said the ship only followed orders because they were "under the threat of deadly force."

Greg Stemm said Odyssey was keen to "learn the name of the ship from which we removed the treasure", but that it may "never be able to establish [its] identity".

Spain claims the company's lack of transparency reveals its intention to make a profit from the country's national heritage. The coins are believed to be Spanish, but Odyssey argues this does not necessarily mean that they came from a Spanish ship. The Spanish "piece of eight" was the international currency of the day and could have ended up on any shipwreck, it said.

Spanish media reports suggest the vessel from which the coins were recovered is the "Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes", which sank off the coast of Portugal in 1804 after a battle with British warships. It carried more than 1 million silver coins, plundered from Spain's American colonies.

The treasure has entered into Spanish lore as the world's greatest sunken booty and the idea that it might have been whisked away has incensed politicians and the media..

17th October 2007


Spanish officials have allowed Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc.'s recovery vessel to leave a port in Southern Spain after searching for evidence that the ship had removed treasure from Spanish waters, the company said Friday. The Odyssey Explorer will soon resume shipwreck search and recovery operations.

The decision by a Spanish judge and harbor authorities comes after months of dispute and legal wrangling over coins and other artifacts Odyssey uncovered in May at an undisclosed site in the Atlantic Ocean.

Odyssey asserts that it found the treasure in international waters and filed motions in U.S. courts to protect three sites' security and secret locations. Speculation that the coins were actually found in Spanish waters led its government to search two Odyssey vessels, detain a ship captain and file a claim in U.S. court that it will not give up rights to Spanish property recovered in the treasure hunts.

Odyssey amended its protective orders in August, claiming Spain had illegally boarded and searched its exploratory vessel, Ocean Alert, and blockaded the Explorer recovery vessel. Odyssey is seeking damages for losses sustained as a result of Spain's actions and compensation to offset any award Spain may ultimately receive.

The company's Co-Chairman and Co-Founder Greg Stemm said Friday in a statement the company is "pleased" that the Spanish government operated its search "so efficiently. We have always shown the utmost respect for Spain's cultural heritage," he added. The company wants to resolve "any outstanding issues," and is prepared to share documentation about the Black Swan site and its operations in the Alboran Sea, which borders Spain.

The government likely searched the vessels to find the exact location of the wreck and any evidence that it was of Spanish heritage, spokeswoman Laura Lionetti Barton said.

19th October 2007.
 


Discovery of the German U-boats off Orkney by the MCA

Two submarine wrecks, believed to be uncharted WWI German U-boats, have been discovered by chance off Orkney.

A team working on a Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) tug made the find during a routine sonar survey.

The submarines - reported missing in the area in 1918 - were discovered about 70 miles off Sanday Sound. One was under the control of Commander Kurt Beitzen, who had previously mined and sunk HMS Hampshire carrying Lord Kitchener in 1916. Plans of the two U-boats have been examined by experts, who have identified the wrecks as U-102 and U-92, which may have been sunk by a series of mines.


Sonar Image of one of the U-Boats
(Courtesy of the MCA)


2006 CHANNEL SHIPWRECK

"ECE" Chemical Tanker
Position: 49.43.682N     003.15.186W


A tanker carrying 10,000 tonnes of phosphoric acid has sunk, a day after a collision with a freighter in the English Channel. The "Ece" had been listing heavily after a collision on Tuesday 1st February 2006. There had been plans to tow the vessel to Le Havre.

Twenty-two crew members were rescued after it collided with the Maltese-registered freighter  "General Grot-Rowecki" which was carrying 26,000 tons of phosphorus and was only slightly damaged.

The "Ece" sank near the site of the collision, in 70m (230ft) of water, 90km west of Cap de La Hague. French divers found a 5m (16ft 4in) hole below its waterline, although there was no leak of the phosphoric acid. The tow operation was halted late on Tuesday near the Channel Islands as it was thought "too dangerous" to continue after dark.


HISTORY OF A CHANNEL SHIP WRECK.
We feature the vessel "AFRIC" which lies off the Cornwall Coast.

This ship is one of the largest vessels I have seen on the echosounder. Also covered with fishing netting and sadly a number of sport divers have now been lost diving this monster. I understand the bell has now been recovered. She is so large you can put a grapnel in one end of the wreck and still fish and see this monster on your echosounder, even with the full flow of the tide. Also I can report I have never caught a fish here either, the wreck seems barren. We did think we could catch a few monster congers here. Perhaps the wreck is not broken enough? The wreck is 25 metres high!

Position: 49.59.45N   004.23.00W   Decca: B4.98  F32.4/5 Decca Chain SW British 1B


(Picture courtesy of White Star Line)

The "AFRIC" was built by Harland & Wolff Ltd. in Belfast for the White Star Line's Australian trade in 1899. Her tonnage was 11,948 tons gross, 11,183 under deck and 7,804 net. 
Dimensions: 550.2 feet long, 63.3 foot beam and holds 31.9 feet deep.

She had one funnel, four masts, 3 decks, and refrigerated cargo space for the carriage of frozen meat. Powered by a quadruple expansion engine built by Harland & Wolff, with 8 cylinders of 22, 31 1/2, 46 & 67 inches diameter each pair and stroke 51 inches. The engine delivered 642 nominal horsepower with twin screws and a speed of 14 knots.

There was accommodation for 350 single-class passengers. She commenced her maiden voyage on 8th Feb. 1899 when she left Liverpool on a trial run to New York, after which she returned to Belfast for some months to allow alterations to be carried out.

On 9th Sept. 1899 she sailed from Liverpool for Cape town, Albany, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

She carried troops for the Boer War and she continued on the Australia service until 12th February 1917 when she was torpedoed and sunk by German submarine UC-66 off the Eddystone Rock in the English Channel with the loss of 22 people.

Call sign: QRJD. Official registration #: 110537.
Owners: "Oceanic Steam Navigation Co. Ltd. (Ismay, Imrie & Co., Managers)".
Home Port was Liverpool.


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