Royal Navy’s Northern Diving Group have identified a Second World War German torpedo at Scapa Flow in the Orkneys, Scotland, on March 1.
The torpedo was found on the seabed 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.
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.
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.”
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 Harbour 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.”
Each year, in an act of remembrance, members of the Northern Diving Group travel to Orkney in order to visit the wreck of HMS Royal Oak.
Lieutenant Commander Hampshire siad: “Northern Diving Group has the honour of diving and placing the White Ensign on the wreck of Royal Oak. 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.”