Scapa Flow Wrecks for Sale


Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
459
184
43
Glasgow, Scotland
Can't think of what to get for your Dad or Uncle Bob's birthday ? Then how about one of the Kaiser's High Seas Fleet ?


Four of the remaining wrecks from the famous grand scuttling at Scapa Flow are actually up for sale online !

They are scheduled monuments so thankfully any new owner is prohibited by law from either raising them or cutting them up on the seabed.

The ships in question (and the prices) are:

König-class battleships - SMS König, SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm, SMS Markgraf - £250,000 each
Königsberg-class light cruiser- SMS Karlsruhe - £60,000
 
  • Haha
Reactions: 1 user

Scott Mills

Member
Jul 10, 2008
616
59
98
42
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
I too wish I had enough money that I could buy a ship wreck I could never recoup any money out of. :D

Edit.

I know some of the wrecks have already been salvaged, and this is complicated by the fact that these ships were scuttled in British territorial waters; however, I was under the impression that ownership of the wrecks of warships stayed with the state whose flag said warships flew. This, for example, is the basis on which Spain often claims ownership of sailing ships (and any valuables on them) found in the Caribbean.

In other words, shouldn't these wrecks belong to either Germany or Great Britain?
 
Last edited:

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
459
184
43
Glasgow, Scotland
The Admiralty sold the salvage rights to many of the ships during the twenties and thirties which would indicate that they "owned" the wrecks.

As it turned out, the German's had inadvertently done the Orcadians a favour ! Work to raise and break up these ships went on throughout the inter war period and provided well paid work for hundreds of the islands men, whilst the hotels and guest houses on shore put up the salvage experts.

The three König-class battleships listed for sale in the OP went under the hammer for £25,000 each. The light cruiser went for £8,500.
 

Scott Mills

Member
Jul 10, 2008
616
59
98
42
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
My assumption then is that Germany lost the sovereign claim to the wrecks of her warships, either because she surrendered them explicitly in treaty, or because their wrecks are located in the territorial waters of the United Kingdom. I am no maritime law expert though. :) Either way makes sense to me given the contexts of those wrecks existence.

All that being said, whoever is the lucky buyer, they better watch those wrecks like a hawk. If they don't someone might sail from Indonesia and ninja salvage them for the low-background steel. Sadly, the last bit is only 80% of a jest.
 

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
459
184
43
Glasgow, Scotland
I wouldn't worry about that kind of thing happening at Scapa Flow. The High Sea's Fleet was scuttled not too far from shore. It's too well watched by the locals and the authorities.

It is possible to legally dive on the remaining German wrecks as long as one gets an official permit and an official observer has to attend the dive too.

I know what you mean about the metal theft.

There was a Dutch firm breaking up the British and German wrecks from Jutland a couple of years back and salvaging all the copper they could find within them.

They brought up a huge condenser from the wreck of HMS Queen Mary and were happily posing for photographs with it on the surface. It was widely reported in the newspapers but ultimately nothing seems to have been done about it. They got away with it and made some money too.
 

J Sheehan

Member
Aug 23, 2019
25
12
3
Cork, Ireland
I doubt he sale includes the wreck of HMS Royal Oak, sunk in October 1939 by U-47.

Here's a painting of Royal Oak's wreck as it is today in Scapa Flow.

article-2493552-19495ECE00000578-328_964x496.jpg
 

Scott Mills

Member
Jul 10, 2008
616
59
98
42
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
I wouldn't worry about that kind of thing happening at Scapa Flow. The High Sea's Fleet was scuttled not too far from shore. It's too well watched by the locals and the authorities.

It is possible to legally dive on the remaining German wrecks as long as one gets an official permit and an official observer has to attend the dive too.

I know what you mean about the metal theft.

There was a Dutch firm breaking up the British and German wrecks from Jutland a couple of years back and salvaging all the copper they could find within them.

They brought up a huge condenser from the wreck of HMS Queen Mary and were happily posing for photographs with it on the surface. It was widely reported in the newspapers but ultimately nothing seems to have been done about it. They got away with it and made some money too.
Agreed. I do not believe illegal salvagers will attempt to disturb any wreck in Scottish waters; however, in the pacific ocean, war graves from the Second World War are disappearing at an alarming rate, as illegal salvage operations take apart and raise entire warships for the value of their low-background steel.
 

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
459
184
43
Glasgow, Scotland
Oh, from past experience we know how to deal with grave robbers here in Scotland ..................... we put their skeleton's on permanent display in Edinburgh Medical School. ;)

On a serious note, aye I recall reading a few years ago that large sections of HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales have suspiciously disappeared over the last twenty years. There's undoubtedly been an epidemic of "harvesting" of scrap metal done out in the Far East upon the wrecks of American, Australian, British, Dutch and Japanese ships from the Second World War. They'll probably be cutting up one of them right this moment.

For the sake of the population of Sheerness in Kent, England, I hope nobody is ever daft enough to muck around with the wreck of the Liberty Ship SS "Richard Montgomery" and it's cargo - SS Richard Montgomery - Wikipedia
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users
Nov 14, 2005
729
277
133
That was an interesting article...Thanks! Ordnance from wars past continues to be a problem all over the world. I've read that Berlin estimates there are around 3000 unexploded bombs buried under the city. Every once in awhile even bombs (cannon balls from the last one I heard about) from the american civil war takes somebody out. Relic hunters routinly dig them up and take them home...:eek:. Older ordnance even in a pre armed state compared to the more modern stuff was not all that safe.
 

Scott Mills

Member
Jul 10, 2008
616
59
98
42
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Oh, from past experience we know how to deal with grave robbers here in Scotland ..................... we put their skeleton's on permanent display in Edinburgh Medical School. ;)

On a serious note, aye I recall reading a few years ago that large sections of HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales have suspiciously disappeared over the last twenty years. There's undoubtedly been an epidemic of "harvesting" of scrap metal done out in the Far East upon the wrecks of American, Australian, British, Dutch and Japanese ships from the Second World War. They'll probably be cutting up one of them right this moment.

For the sake of the population of Sheerness in Kent, England, I hope nobody is ever daft enough to muck around with the wreck of the Liberty Ship SS "Richard Montgomery" and it's cargo - SS Richard Montgomery - Wikipedia
Oh yes, in fact, entire wrecks have disappeared off of the sea floor.
 

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
459
184
43
Glasgow, Scotland
That was an interesting article...Thanks! Ordnance from wars past continues to be a problem all over the world. I've read that Berlin estimates there are around 3000 unexploded bombs buried under the city. Every once in awhile even bombs (cannon balls from the last one I heard about) from the american civil war takes somebody out. Relic hunters routinly dig them up and take them home...:eek:. Older ordnance even in a pre armed state compared to the more modern stuff was not all that safe.
Highly ironic, isn't it that General Richard Montgomery was killed in action against the British during the American War of Independence and now a ship named after him lies upon a tidal estuary on the Kent coast threatening a "mini-tsunami" if the munitions within it are indeed still intact and are somehow detonated !

"Montgomery's revenge" ? o_O
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
5,070
641
213
Funchal. Madeira
A wee bit off topic.

In the late 60s. i left the sea for a few years and was employed by BOC. At that time. we purchased armour plating salvaged from these wrecks to be used as shields in XRAY cabinets. It was something to do with the fact that the steel was completely free of any radio activity.
Just saying;)
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
5,070
641
213
Funchal. Madeira
No. In fact I joined BOC to help them break into the North Sea market. The week I joined. they started training me in Hydrocarbons and atmospheric gases and I became their LPG Specialist. The marine idea fizzed-out and I transferred to the atmospheric gasses section - Steel, Ravenscraig and the Clyde Yards etc before I was made an offer from a Marine Group which I could not refuse.
For a while, I worked down at the BOC research center at Morden and during that time, among other things, started Concord using Nitrogen and cleared fog from the Orchards of Kent. That was where the Scapa Flow connection happened. These were happy, but brief days. After that, as I say, I was head hunted and spent the rest of the time up to 1995 running the Europe side of a Marine Survey and Investigation Company based in New Orleans. John Browns, then Marthon then UIE was my "baby" in Glasgow. Now I'm too old to pull an oar as they say, and now get my kicks, winding-up my ET friends. ;)
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

Similar threads