ROV explores Lord Kitchener’s resting place
HMS Hampshire surveyed 100 years after secret WW1 mission
A team has used a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to explore the wreck of a World War 1 warship lost in an ill-fated mission.
Lord Kitchener, Britain’s Secretary of State for War and over 700 sailors died in the sinking of HMS Hampshire in June 1916 after it hit a mine off the Orkney Isles.
The iconic figure was on a secret mission to persuade Tsar Nicholas II of Russia to stay in the First World War.
the first extensive mapping of the wreck site since the sinking
To mark the centenary, the Roving Eye Enterprises team deployed a Saab Seaeye Falcon underwater robotic system to examine the wreck. The survey was a collaborative project with the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, with licensed permission from the Ministry of Defence.
Although there have been two previous surveys of the ship, this is the first extensive mapping of the wreck site since it sank.
The wreck is designated as a war grave and normal diving is forbidden, although a team of technical divers also dived and photographed the site this summer.
Roving Eye Enterprises, based in the Orkney Isles in the far North of Scotland, were chosen for the project because of their long experience at working in demanding sea conditions whilst undertaking precision filming and survey tasks.
During the mission they deployed the Falcon with its low-light camera and a Nexus advanced ultra short baseline position and tracking system designed to locate subsea targets through acoustic signals.
The survey confirmed previous findings that the ship capsized and sank following an explosion between the bow and the bridge, and lies upturned on the seabed in approximately 60m of water.
The hull is also damaged in places throughout the length of the vessel, exposing parts of the interior.
Guns from the ship’s secondary armament were identified at a distance of up to 30m from the main body of the wreck. The location of these breech-loading 6-inch MK VII guns may be related to the sinking event or salvage activity.
A ceremony marking the loss of lives was held at the Kitchener memorial located on the headland point off where the Hampshire sank a century ago.
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