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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Your roaming Fife Ambassador took advantage of the good spell of weather recently and has been out and about in the Kingdom. You don’t have to walk or drive far to find interesting places to visit in Fife.
On a walk from Crail to Fife Ness along the Fife Coastal Path you will come across Kilminning Castle, named castle, but really a natural rock stack formation. It lies within Kilminning Coast, Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserve. It is in line with the end of the runway of Royal Navy Air Service Crail Aerodrome, HMS Jackdaw, which was in service as a torpedo training school from 1939 to 1947. An airfield here dates from WWI when it was a Royal Flying Corps training depot from 1918-1919. From 1947 to 1949 it became HMS Bruce, a training establishment for boys from the age of 15. From 1952 to 1956 the accommodation was used intermittently by the Black Watch. From 1956 to 1960 it served as JSSL Crail, the Joint Services School for Linguists, a Russian language school which operated as part of the country’s response to the Cold War.
In the area of Kilminning Castle, formerly Kilminning Farm, archaeological investigations revealed the remains of an early rectilinear building and a long cist cemetery which was dedicated to St Minin (9th century). Also in the area is a substantial linear earthwork known as Dane’s Dyke. It is the only surviving linear earthwork in Fife and one of the best preserved in Scotland. It may be prehistoric in origin, it could be associated with Roman Iron Age occupation discovered within the area at Fife Ness and also associated with the Vikings and with King Constantine in the 9th century AD.
East and west of the large rock stack there have been many groundings and founderings of vessels driven ashore on the rock skellies and reefs during bad weather and storms. The types of vessels lost include schooners, steam passenger ships, steam cargo ships and steam trawlers. I myself have dived a few off these wrecks finding their remains battered and wedged in the kelp covered rocks.
It really is an area worth exploring. You can walk from Crail or Fife Ness or park and walk a short way from the car-park down a road at the end of the small industrial estate at the end of the airfield.
Yesterday I was out at Fife Ness, the most easterly headland of the Kingdom of Fife. The word Ness is an archaic Norse word meaning “nose” and when you look at the shape of Fife on a map it resembles that of a dog’s head and Fife Ness the tip of its nose.
Fife Ness has a long history; evidence of prehistoric sites, Danish invaders, 17th century harbour works, a 18th/19th century tide mill, tide pond, a lime-kiln and a HM Coastguard Station and houses (station now closed and houses in the private sector). Also close by is an airfield and associated buildings used during both world wars. It is the best-preserved abandoned airfield in Scotland, with unique designs of hangar, a military hospital, and a whole range of WW2-era buildings, including a Torpedo Trainer.
Fife Ness has a special place in my heart. In the early 1980’s I did some of my first SCUBA dives down the skellies at Lochaber Rock and my first shipwreck the Vildfugl which struck Lochaber Rock in 1951.
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