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The world’s best shipwrecks to explore
History of the wrecks dotted in and around Scapa Flow. Many ill. Seller Inventory M. Available From More Booksellers. About the Book.
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Published by Tempus, Gloucestershire, UK Used Softcover Quantity Available: 1. Rear-Admiral Ludwig von Reuter was given command of this force and used Friedrich der Grosse as his flag ship.
Apart from the unpleasant task of surrendering a powerful undefeated fleet he also had major problems with his men, many of whom were mutinous with communist tendencies and he had to ensure that his fleet was disarmed. On the 19 November the German force set sail for the Firth of Forth where the British would check that the disarmament was complete before moving to other ports to be interned. The torpedo-boat V30 strayed off course and was sunk by a mine.
The Germans arrived at the Firth of Forth on the morning of 21 November and were met by an Allied force of ships under Beatty which included most of the Grand Fleet, an American Battleship squadron and representatives of other navies with a total of forty four capital ships. The Allied guns were trained fore and aft but the gun crews were ready for action.
The Bull And The Barriers: The Wrecks of Scapa Flo
The British checked each ship thoroughly to ensure disarmament and were apparently impressed with the quality of the ships, if less so by the crews. From the November the German ships left in groups for Scapa Flow, all having arrived by 27 November. The Germans were not happy at being interned at Scapa Flow as they felt that they should have been interned in a neutral port, and that the British were breaking the spirit, if not the word of the Armistice.
They were however in no position to do anything about it.
By mid December the 20, crew who who had sailed the ships to Scapa were reduced to a caretaker crew of per battlecruiser, per battleship, 80 per light cruiser and 20 per destroyer torpedo-boat leaving a nominal total of 4, plus officers and warrant officers, although the exact actual figures are thought to be higher. This was considerably more than the British thought necessary but for once the German view prevailed. There were considerable discipline problems amongst revolutionary elements in the German crews, with c trouble makers being sent home and Reuter changing his flag to the cruiser Emden.
In June the crews were reduced to Royal Navy caretaker levels, 75 per battlecruiser, 60 per battleship, 30 per light cruiser and whatever was necessary for the destroyers, a total of about 1, During this time the peace talks had been dragging on, with several extensions to the Armistice, and the Treaty of Versailles was not ready until May The Allies were divided over the fate of the ships with many countries wanting a share, whilst the British, the major naval power at the time, were less keen to boost the strength of rival navies.
The treaty involved the surrender of the interned ships.
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When Reuter heard this he became concerned that the British would seize the ships without notice and started active planning to scuttle the fleet, although he had been considering the option for some time. The British were also well aware of the danger and had plans for armed seizure of the ships. The German officers planned the scuttle, the troublesome crews were not told but in many cases worked out what was going on by watching the officers making preparations, many of the crews were then told.
At It took a while for the message to get around the fleet and it was an hour before all the ships acknowledged the signal. The only British warships present were the destroyers Vespa and Vega as were a couple of depot ships and various trawlers and drifters. They signalled the First Battle Squadron which returned to base at full speed. In the confusion nine Germans were shot dead, the last kills of WWI, although nobody was drowned, on the whole light casualties under the circumstances. Over , tons of modern warships were sunk, the largest loss of shipping in a single day in history.
Publicly the British were outraged but in private there was a sense of relief that the problem of what to do with the fleet was now ended. Considerable efforts were made by British Intelligence to prove that the scuttling had been authorised by Berlin but they never found any proof.
The initial salvaging operations began as early as and concentrated on the removal of many of the blockships. This was to allow the Holm and Burray piers, as well as the herring stations, to be used again. He started with the destroyer G The salvage operations stepped up a gear over the next decade with Cox and Danks Ltd raising a total of 32 ships for the valuable steel in their hulls.
Most of the salvage work pre-dated WWII but some operations continued until Seven ships were never raised and today these provide some of the best wreck diving the world has to offer. Jack Moar, who worked in one of the forges in Stromness, was part of a syndicate that bought the German destroyer G It was lying in shallow water off Fara and in December it was refloated and towed to Stromness Harbour where it was hauled ashore at the North End. He purchased two concrete barges from the Admiralty and set up a framework of girders across the gap between them.
Two huge buoyancy bags were attached to a sunken vessel and then steel cables were threaded underneath the ship. The cables would then be wound in. This technique proved successful on the smaller vessels. Cox and Danks Ltd comprised steel and iron merchants in London and engineers and shipbreakers in Kent.
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The firm bought 26 of the destroyers and two of the bigger ships, including the battlecruiser Hindenburg in Ernest Cox was the sole partner in the firm at the time, having bought out his partner Tommy Danks. Cox had no experience in salvage operations, but was a brilliant engineer. He bought a huge floating dock - which had been seized by Britain as part of the reparations for scuttling the fleet - along with two ex-Admiralty sea-going tugs. Cox's first salvage attempt was the torpedo boat destroyer V70 in The floating dock was cut into two L-shaped sections, which were manoeuvred into position on either side of V After a failed and dangerous attempt, which resulted in chains placed underneath the vessel breaking, wire cables were used instead.
On 4 August and after six weeks of work, Cox was able to beach V He was furious to discover that locals had already removed the valuable torpedo tubes MacDonald, By 1 May , Cox had taken up all 26 of his destroyers and had started work on the Hindenburg. This had been one of the largest ships in the Kaiser's navy at just over 26, tons. The Hindenburg had sunk on an even keel in about 21 metres of water - a comparatively shallow depth. The ship's superstructure jutted above the surface and was a prominent seamark for miles around.
A few setbacks meant it was some years before the Hindenburg was raised, despite the fact it was lying in shallow water. One such setback were miners' strikes, which resulted in a shortage of coal to fire the steam pumps. Thankfully the battlecruiser Seyditz was scuttled with full coalbunkers and part of its hull remained above water. It didn't take long to cut away the armour-plating and recover the much needed coal Hewison, Photographic Images Transportation Collectables Non-Sport Trading Cards 3.
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