A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) has surveyed the wreck of HMS Hampshire, sunk on 5 June 1916. The Devonshire-class armoured cruiser, which played a minor role in the Battle of Jutland, was transporting Lord Kitchener to Russia for a meeting with Tsar Nicholas II when it struck a German mine off Marwick Head in Orkney. The ship sank in just 20 minutes, resulting in Lord Kitchener’s untimely death, and the loss of 736 others. Only 12 people survived.
Although there have been two previous remote surveys of the ship, this is the first extensive mapping of the wreck site since HMS Hampshire sank. It is a collaborative project between ORCA Marine, the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, and Seatronics.
The Roving Eye Enterprises ROV survey confirmed previous findings that HMS Hampshire capsized as she sank and lies with an upturned hull on the seabed in approximately 60m of water. The superstructure itself is compressed and is buried in the soft silt of the seabed. The hull is damaged in places throughout the length of the vessel, exposing various elements of the interior, including torpedo tubes and machinery.
Guns from the ship’s secondary armament were also identified on the surrounding seabed 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 on the wreck.
Sandra Henry, a marine archaeologist from the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute, said, ‘This remote survey has provided many new insights into the sinking and wreck of the HMS Hampshire. Ongoing work will continue to develop our knowledge base, revealing new information as we continue to gather and process data, creating a record of the Hampshire in 2016.’
The project used the latest 2D and 3D scanning technology. Further survey work using the Seatronics Predator ROV is in the planning stage.
The project received funding and sponsorship from Interface, Orkney Islands Council, and Northlink Ferries. Permission to undertake the remote survey was granted under licence by the MOD.