NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

First images of sunken Scapa Flow warship HMS Vanguard released

Vanguard wreck Image copyright Bob Anderson/HMS Vanguard Expedition 2017/PA

The first images of a warship sunk in 1917 off Orkney have been released after divers were given special permission to visit the wreck.

HMS Vanguard exploded and sank at Scapa Flow with the loss of 843 lives.

Safeguarded under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986, diving is not permitted at the site except under licence from the MoD.

A team of specialist divers aboard Orkney dive boat MV Huskyan were given permission.

Image copyright PA

Emily Turton, of MV Huskyan, said: "The main wreck is complicated with an extensive debris field.

"Surprisingly, given the nature of her loss, both the bow and stern are intact despite large pieces of wreckage having being thrown hundreds of metres away.

"It is accepted that the likely cause of the disaster was an accidental magazine explosion.

"Witness accounts on the night of her loss describe a large explosion immediately behind the bridge. We can reveal that our initial survey result supports this."

Image copyright Bob Anderson/HMS Vanguard Expedition 2017/PA

A report will now be compiled for the MoD, Historic Environment Scotland, Orkney Marine Services and other interested organisations.

Ms Turton added: "The purpose of this survey is to tell the story of HMS Vanguard at 100 years underwater.

"We also hope to offer a sensitive contribution to the centenary commemoration in July this year."

Scapa Flow was used in both world wars as a main harbour for the British Navy.

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