Scapa Flow

Scapa Flow: WWI Wreck Legacy & Recent Discoveries

Historical photo showing destroyers of the German High Seas Fleet sinking in Scapa Flow (Orkney Library Archives / public dom

Separated from the northern coast of mainland Scotland by only the six-mile-wide channel of the Pentland Firth, Orkney has some 90 islands, only 18 of which are inhabited. In the southern region of the archipelago is the large area of sheltered water known as Scapa Flow. Scapa Flow was the base chosen by the British Admiralty as the home of the Grand Naval Fleet.

Scapa 100: Centenary Anniversary Event

The Reflection at Sea ceremony on NLV Pharos took place around the site of SMS Dresden II, commemorating the centenary anniversary of the scuttling of the WWI German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow, Scotland, in 1919. Photo by Niki Wilson.

Friday, 21 June 2019. Dawn broke on the longest day of the year in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. In reality, at this latitude, the summer evenings are almost endless as nights do not exactly get as black as pitch this time of the year. As the islands and inhabitants slept, the charcoal smudge of dusk had gradually darkened during the wee small hours. Twilight broke early, with first light at 2:32 a.m.

Scapa Flow: Centenary of the Scuttle of the Imperial German High Seas Fleet

Fractured turbine blades, Scapa Flow. Photo © Bob Anderson.

One hundred years ago this year, on 21 June 1919, 74 warships of the Imperial German Navy High Seas Fleet were scuttled en masse at Scapa Flow, the deep natural harbour set in the Orkney Islands of northern Scotland that was the WWI base for the Royal Navy Grand Fleet. The scuttle was the greatest single act of maritime suicide the world has ever seen.