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.
"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
- which was a British Armed Merchant steamer of 5,037 tons, which was located 5th July 1978
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 -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
WRECKSITE. You can locate it by
clicking on the picture below.
Not only does this
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
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
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.
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
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.
(Picture courtesy Maritime International)
MV Ice Prince
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.
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
He said: "The
find is unprecedented. I don't know of anything equal or comparable to it."
companies have spent years looking for the wreck of the Merchant Royal, known as
"Eldorado of the seas", which sank in bad weather near the Isles of Scilly
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
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.
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
HISTORY OF THE MERCHANT
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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."
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."
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."
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
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."
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."
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 officials and Odyssey Marine Exploration, which
owns the ship, said Spain had boarded the ship illegally as it was in
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
from officials in Panama, where it is registered.
13th July 2007
SPAIN RELEASES ODYSSEY
US treasure-hunting ship
which was arrested by the Spanish Navy, has been cleared to leave port.
authorities suspect the discovery might have been made in their territorial
waters. But Gibraltar disputes the claim, saying the ship had been boarded in
"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.
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).
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.
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.
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
-- 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.
"ODYSSEY EXPLORER'S" captain, Sterling Vorus, told the Spaniards he considered his
ship to be in International waters, Odyssey owner Greg Stemm said.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
submarine wrecks, believed to be uncharted WWI German U-boats, have been
discovered by chance off Orkney.
working on a Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) tug made the find during a
routine sonar survey.
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.
(Courtesy of the MCA)
Sonar Image of one of the U-Boats
"ECE" Chemical Tanker
carrying 10,000 tonnes of phosphoric acid has sunk, a day after a collision with
a freighter in the English Channel.
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
"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
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!
Decca: B4.98 F32.4/5 Decca Chain SW British 1B
(Picture courtesy of White Star Line)
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
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.
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
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)".
Port was Liverpool.