NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Sunken WW1 Scapa Flow warships sold for £85,000 on eBay

Markgraf Image copyright Orkney Library Archives/
Image caption The battleship Markgraf was among those scuttled

Four World War One warships sunk in Scapa Flow in Orkney in 1919 have been sold on eBay for a combined total of £85,000.

The Markgraf, Karlsruhe, Konig and Kronprinz Wilhelm are scheduled monuments, which recreational divers are not supposed to enter.

The asking price was over £800,000.

The three battleships sold for £25,500 each to a Middle Eastern company. The cruiser, Karlsruhe, sold for £8,500 to a private bidder in England.

The vessels, which were part of the German High Seas fleet, were deliberately scuttled 100 years ago.

They cannot be removed from the seabed.

When the listing first appeared on online auction site eBay, some assumed the advert was a hoax.

But the seller explained that they had been bought from a defunct salvage company.

Drew Crawford, mediating agent for owner of the wrecks - retired Tayside diving contractor Tommy Clark - said they were not certain as to the long-term intentions of the new owners, and the sale would depend on terms and conditions being met.

'Very rare occurrence'

He said: "We're finalising details of the sale with them.

"We hope to know more, ultimately, later this week.

"It's not very often ships or shipwrecks like this come up for sale, especially with the history these vessels have.

"It's a very rare occurrence and not something you see often at all."

Image copyright Ebay
Image caption The listing described the ships as "pre-owned"

The fleet had been interned in Scapa Flow after surrendering in the Firth of Forth.

Admiral Ludwig von Reuter ordered the deliberate sinking of his ships in WW1 because he feared either the resumption of hostilities if treaty negotiations in Paris broke down, or the seizing of the fleet by the Allies as war reparations.

During the 1920s and 30s a number of the vessels were lifted from the sea bed by commercial contractors, and broken up.

Some historians argue that saved Orkney from the worst effects of the post-war recession.

And the presence of the wrecks in Scapa Flow has made the area a destination of choice for divers, keen to see the remains on the sea bed.

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