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Survey project sheds new light on HMS Royal Oak

Divers on the wreck of HMS Royal Oak.

A VOLUNTEER dive team has been granted permission to extensively survey the official wargrave of HMS Royal Oak in Scapa Flow.

New 3D photogrammetry techniques are being used and still photography and videography will allow the team to capture and share the spirit of the site.

In the early hours of October 14, 1939, U47’s commander Günther Prien guided her silently into Scapa Flow, and launched a torpedo attack, In just a few minutes, Royal Oak was gone. 834 sailors perished, including over 134 boy seamen.

Ahead of the 80th anniversary of her loss later this year, a team of volunteer civilian divers has been granted permission to dive the wreck by the secretary of state for defence.

This is part of a collaboration with the Royal Oak Association and the Royal Navy to document the last resting place of the men who lost their lives, so their passing can be remembered and preserved for future generations.

The project aims to ensure that HMS Royal Oak is not forgotten, by sharing imagery with relatives of those lost, as well as the wider public.

The survey team is using state-of-the-art underwater imagery techniques, in order to produce high-quality photography and video. In addition, 3D photogrammetry is taking place so that digital 3D models of the wreck can be produced. By using these techniques, in essence, the team is able to digitally bring HMS Royal Oak to the surface.

Survey organiser and licence-holder Emily Turton said: “The wreck of HMS Royal Oak is the final resting place of 834 men and boys. As the most intact underwater dreadnought-era battleship, she has an architectural grandeur befitting of any national memorial. However, at the smaller end of the scale, artefacts pertaining to everyday life on board are scattered around the site, bringing home the human story of those lost. The site is peaceful, yet vibrant, and supports a thriving marine eco-system. It is both an honour and a privilege to get to know the site.”

Full details and further pictures in The Orcadian this week.

Remains of a double bass can be seen in this underwater image from the wreck.

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