The wreck of the German battlecruiser SMS Scharnhorst, sunk by the Royal Navy during the First World War with the loss of all her crew and Admiral Graf von Spee has been found in the South Atlantic. SMS Scharnhorst, the flagship of the East Asia Squadron which was once the scourge of the Royal Navy, went down with most of the rest of the formation on December 8, 1914, in the Battle of the Falkland Islands.
The battlecruiser sank on Dec. 8, 1914, with more than 800 crew members on board, including German Adm. Maximilian Graf von Spee.
Ranging from calm shore dives for beginner divers to technical diving on elusive, unmarked wreck sites, which can only be found via depth sounder—diving in Malta has it all. Just beyond Malta’s dramatic underwater landscapes of strange rock formations, chimneys and caves, visitors can discover Malta’s intriguing and piquant past.
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.
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.
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.
The armored cruiser Carl Friedrich was constructed in the year 1902 at the well-known shipyard of Blohm & Voss in Hamburg, Germany. The armored cruiser had a length of 126m and was equipped with an impressive array of guns and torpedo launchers. She was the second ship of the Prinz Adalbert class when she was commissioned by the Imperial German Navy on the 12 December 1903.
“Crikey,” I thought, “one hundred years ago today that German U-boat was awfully close to the English coast.” I suddenly felt a bit vulnerable. World War I happened right here—just off the peaceful Dorset shore, not in some far-off French trench. A century ago today, I could well be on a sinking ship. Or dead.