100 years on, a new survey gives the first look at the sunken wreck of the HMS Vanguard

HMS Vanguard
HMS Vanguard

An initial survey of the wreckage of HMS Vanguard supports the view that the ship blew up due to an accidental magazine explosion which took 843 lives.

Vanguard exploded 100 years ago at Scapa Flow, Orkney, Scotland.  Specialist divers on Orkney dive boat MV Huskyan were licensed by the MoD to survey the ship.

Emily Turton, of MV Huskyan, said the primary wreck has an extensive debris field, which is surprising since both the bow and stern are complete although large pieces of wreckage were blown hundreds of meters apart.

It’s recognized that the most probable cause of the disaster was an unintentional magazine explosion.  Witness accounts on the evening of the accident, she explained, described a large explosion just aft of the bridge. They confirm that their initial survey result doesn’t disagree.

A report will be prepared for the MoD, Historic Environment Scotland, Orkney Marine Services and other interested organisations.

Turton added the survey’s purpose is to relate the story of the Vanguard after 100 years underwater and to provide a touching contribution to the centenary memorial in July this year, BBC News reported.

Scapa Flow had been a main harbor for the British Navy in both world wars.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE