Hatch taken from protected sub

Published: 10 years ago Author:

Image of the Holland 5 - public domain image from WikimediaThe central bow torpedo tube hatch of the historic submarine Holland 5 has been illegally removed, English Heritage has reported.

The wreck, which lies in 30m of water six miles off Beachy Head in Sussex, is designated as a protected site under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973.

It is illegal to dive or interfere with the wreck outside sanctioned diving activities run by the site licencee, Mark Beattie Edwards.

An offence has also been committed under the Merchant Shipping Act, as the hatch's removal has not been reported to the Receiver of Wreck.

It was during a licenced dive in June by the Nautical Archaeology Society, of which Beattie Edwards is Programme Director, that divers realised the hatch could be missing.

Another survey dive this month provided confirmation that the hatch was neither on the wreck nor on the surrounding seabed. Marine growth around the hatch's mounting area suggested that it was removed some time ago.

The last firm sighting of the hatch was in September 2008. Survey dives were not possible last year due to inclement weather.

Diver Jamie Smith, who holds a visit licence for the site, said that he was "saddened and shocked" at the removal by "the few that tend to spoil it for the many".

"This is not a diving trophy from the deep but a historic piece of protected wreck," he said. "Please return it."

He added: "If you wish to dive the wreck you can apply for a visitor's permit; this is not too complicated. You can then dive her and take your memories home with you."

English Heritage is appealing to the "diving community for help in locating this important piece of the Holland 5".

Those who think that they may have useful information are asked to contact Sussex Police or Crime Stoppers on 0800 555111.

Holland 5 was the first submarine to be commissioned into the Royal Navy, in January 1903. The torpedo tube hatch was curved to follow the shape of the bow.

The submarine foundered while under tow in 1912. It was discovered by a Kent diver, Jerry Dowd, in 1995 and dived for the first time by submarines expert Innes McCartney in 2001. Since then the NAS and McCartney have worked together to record the wreck, offering places on many survey dives to the broad sport diving community
 

Contact: Mark Harrison 020 7973 3361

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