Remembering the RMS Lusitania

Postcard_Lusitania

Yesterday the 7th May was the 102nd anniversary of the sinking of iconic ocean liner the RMS Lusitania. On her 202nd Atlantic crossing with 1,266 passengers and a crew of 696 (Total:1962) from New York bound for Liverpool. She was torpedoed by the German U-boat, U-20 approximately 11 miles (18 km) off the Old Head of Kinsale Lighthouse (near Cork, Ireland) in 91 m (300 ft) of water at 14:10 on the 7th May 1915. A total of 1,198 people lost their lives that day.

I was very lucky to be part of a team that carried out a ROV survey and wreck investigation with Gregg Bemis the owner of the wreck. The project was also recorded by the Discovery Channel and was a one hour episode on the show “Treasure Quest”.

It was a very interesting series of ROV dives on this majestic lady. The wreck is well broken up form periods of constant depth charge practice over the decades. I saw un-exploded hedgehog depth charges on the wreck. It is also covered in fishing net and modern net as well.

I was able to carry out some science experiments on the site and I wrote a site survey report. It was a great experience being able to see the Lusitania. If you want to see more then watch the Treasure Quest episode, “Lusitania Revealed”.

If you ever visit the lovely coastal port of Cobh near Cork you can see a memorial to the sinking and nearby a memorial to those perished on that fateful day in the local graveyard.

“The sea is the largest cemetery, and its slumbers sleep without a monument. All other graveyards show symbols of distinction between great and small, rich and poor: but in the ocean cemetery, the king, the clown, the prince and the peasant are alike, undistinguishable.” George Bruce. 1884, St Andrews.

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Naughty Treasure Hunters in the news again – but not me……

Neil and Logo

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4415984/British-treasure-hunters-looking-SS-Minden.html

Interesting story, believe me its always best to get permission and the required licenses first !!!!……….I just happen to be a highly experienced deep water marine archaeologist (last 18 years working with ROVs) Recent contracts have been deep-water salvage contracts, I know my way about a wreck and I know how to keep out of trouble…….. I offer cost effective services from research, project planning, project design, field work, excavation and recovery, specie and ingot recovery and processing, report writing and publications. Lecturing and presentations, plus TV/media experience and much more is on offer. I am STCW 95 and 10 compliant, UK Seaman’s Discharge Book, have US work visa and US crew visa. My marine, offshore and archaeological background make me unique and I have worked on many high-profile shipwrecks such as: HMS Victory, La Marquise de Tourny, SS Republic, SS Central America, SS Gairsoppa, RMS Lusitania, RMS Laconia, Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes, various WWI and WWII German U-boats, and ancient Mediterranean wrecks. Check out www.rovarch.com to find out more and get in touch. Please share.

Maritime Fife

neil_portrait_harbour watermarked

The Kingdom of Fife with the mighty River Tay to the north and the Firth of Forth to the south has a coastline of 117 miles (188 km). Throughout history these two waterways have been busy maritime trade routes. Needless to say, there are many shipwrecks.

As a marine archaeologist and Fife Ambassador it was wonderful to read Michael Alexander’s article in Saturday’s weekend Courier and the Courier Online about the shipwrecks and maritime history of the Forth and the Tay.

https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/scotland/387483/investigating-shipwrecks-courier-country/

Now Spring is here and the evenings are longer and living in fife you are never that far from the coast. Get out and explore the coastline, the coastal towns and harbours of the Kingdom. Maritime Fife is full of interesting facts, stories, people and places.

 

The Golden Fringe of Fife – Elie Ness Light House

Elie Neil WM

It has been a great week of sunny clear skies and wonderful sunrises and sunsets throughout the kingdom. The other evening I was down at Elie Ness Lighthouse to catch a wonderful cloudless sunset. Looking across Largo Bay, the low tide exposing the East Vows rocks and its beacon. This was built in 1846 and the “bird’ cage on top of the beacon was intended as a safe refuge for shipwrecked mariners until they were rescued.

East Vows Beacon

Unusual to see so many oil rigs at anchor in the bay. A sad sign of the downturn in the North Sea oil industry at present. The three semi-submersible drilling units are the Transocean Prospect, the SEDCO 714 and a drilling rig I worked on as a Watchstander back in 1988, the SEDCO 711.

Lighthouses have been a safety aid to mariners for centuries. During bad weather and reduced visibility the lights from lighthouse helped mariners safely navigate their vessels around coasts, islands, rivers and estuaries. During the first decade of the 20th century mariners navigating the Firth of Forth were concerned that during bad weather the lights on the Isle of May and Inchkeith Island were not visible and as Elie Ness was a rock headland it would make sense to build a lighthouse there so that vessels would not come to grief on the rocks and reefs of the headland.

The Northern Lighthouse Board is the General Lighthouse Authority for Scotland and the Isle of Man. It was formed in 1796 as the Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses. Its engineer in 1908 was David Alan Stevenson, grandson of Robert Stevenson, who built the Bell Rock Lighthouse and many great lighthouses around Scotland and cousin of the great Scottish writer, Robert Louis Stevenson. Built by James Lawrie Builders, Anstruther, the lighthouse went into service 1st October 1908. With the light evenings as we head towards the Summer Solstice, take advantage and get out and enjoy the wonderful sunsets that bathe the Kingdom of Fife.

 

 

 

Oil Rigs off Fife Coast

Oil Rigs Leven Bay

Driving down the Fife coast the other day I saw two semi-submersible drilling rigs at anchor in Leven Bay. The sight of the two oil rigs reminded me of my 11 years from 1979 as a Stability Officer/Barge Engineer on semi-submersible drilling rigs and jack-up installations. During my offshore oil career I experienced two major slumps and like the slump today many rigs were laid up in bays and firths on the east coast of Scotland.

To my amazement one of the two oil rigs in Leven Bay was an oil rig I worked on 29 years ago. She is the Sedco 711. I wonder what her future is now? The other oil rig is the Transocean prospect.

Fife has a long relationship with the offshore oil industry, Methil, Burntisland and Rosyth along with various oil related business have supported the great North Sea Oil industry.

If you want to find out the names and types of the various vessels that we see off the Fife coast then go to this free AIS tracking site:

http://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/centerx:-3/centery:56/zoom:9

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is an automatic tracking system used on ships and by vessel traffic services (VTS) for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships, AIS base stations, and satellites.

 

 

 

Treasure hunting

Treasure

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/the-heyday-of-treasure-hunting-might-be-at-hand

An interesting article. I have been involved in deep-water marine archaeology in the commercial sector for 15 years now. I have researched, found, investigated and excavated  many interesting shipwrecks from all periods in history. I have worked with  world experts in their field and met amazing people, oh and met a few odd people. I have been subjected to ill-found criticism and personal attacks. My exploits have been the subject of documentaries and I am affectionately known as the People’s Arch.

To find out more about my amazing life visit www.rovarch.com

 

The Revenant

 Revenant Bears

I went to see ‘The Revenant’ last night. It was a truly gripping movie with a constant flow of well filmed, gritty action. Certainly deserves an Oscar or three. If you are into survival tales then this is a cracker as the main character, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, survived a bear attack and subsequent life threatening ordeals.

As an offshore survival instructor I have had to deal with many an offshore “bear” (offshore construction worker) but none as angry as the Revenant bear!

I highly recommend the film, it is full-on seat gripping entertainment for the entire 156 minutes.