Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Irish Sea gives up secrets of World War One shipwrecks

By Linda Stewart

Published 06/10/2015

An image of the SS Chirripo, which sank in 1917 off Co Antrim after striking a mine
An image of the SS Chirripo, which sank in 1917 off Co Antrim after striking a mine
Wreck of the SS Hare

These intriguing images show some of the first sightings of First World War ships since they foundered 100 years ago.

The images of shipwrecks in the Irish Sea were captured by a team of scientists on board the Marine Institute's Celtic Voyager research vessel, and a number of them lie so far down that they haven't been sighted since capsizing.

The team, led by Dr Ruth Plets of the School of Environmental Sciences at Ulster University, set out to capture the highest resolution acoustic data possible of First World War shipwrecks in the Irish Sea using a new multi-beam system.

"We were able to capture the most detailed images of the entirety of the wrecks ever," Dr Plets said.

"Some of the wrecks, which are too deep to be dived on, have not been seen in 100 years.

"So this is the first time we can examine what has happened to them during sinking and in the intervening 100 years, and try to predict their future preservation state."

Among the shipwrecks surveyed were the SS Chirripo, which sank in 1917 off Black Head in Co Antrim after she struck a mine; the SS Polwell, which was torpedoed in 1918 northeast of Lambay Island, and the RMS Leinster, which sank in 1918 after being torpedoed off Howth Head when more than 500 people died - the greatest single loss of life in the Irish Sea.

Dr Plets said: "We moved away from traditional survey strategies by slowing the vessel right down to allow us to get many more data points over the wreck, with millions of soundings per wreck."

Belfast Telegraph

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph