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Old 05-14-2020, 11:25 PM   #1
xoxoxoBruce
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May 15th, 2020 : Scapa Flow

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Scapa Flow is a sheltered anchorage in the Orkneys, to the north of the Scottish mainland. During the First World War it was the main anchorage for Britain's Grand Fleet. After the end of the First World War 78 ships of the German High Seas fleet were interned in Scapa, with some of the original crews aboard each ship. On the 21st June 1919 the German sailors began scuttling the ships and 51 battleships and other vessels went to the bottom of the Flow. The British succeeded in beaching a few ships before they sank.

Between the First and Second World Wars many of the ships were raised in an extraordinary salvage effort. The potential rewards to the salvors were great. When the battleship Freiedrich der Gross was raised and broken up she yielded 18,943 tons of ferrous metal and 774 tons of lead, brass, gunmetal, copper, and other non-ferrous metals. These metals were worth a total of £134,886.
The problem was, how to raise almost 20,000 tons of ship from the seabed.
The solution was ingenious and dangerous.


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Long steel tubes containing airlocks were lowered down and welded to the ships hulls by divers. Some of these tubes were over 30m long. Air was then pumped into the hulls to begin forcing out the water. Workers would row up to a tube, climb down the inside, through the airlocks and work inside the ships whilst they lay on the seabed.


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The salvage operation was an arduous and risky business, and there were several fatalities. A total of 26 destroyers, five battle cruisers, seven battleships and a cruiser were raised in the heroic salvage effort. Not all the German ships could be raised and there are still ten wrecks remaining, including three battleships and four cruisers. These wrecks, in addition to six other German wrecks, 28 British wrecks, 33 blockships and the massive wrecks of the British battleships HMS Vanguard and HMS Royal Oak, make Scapa Flow a wreck divers heaven.


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Since the first atomic tests in the 1940s all new steel is contaminated by the radioactivity that is present in the air and is drawn into the furnaces during production. When uncontaminated steel is needed for medical and scientific instruments it can only be obtained from metal produced before the first atomic test. So it is that small amounts of steel are occasionally salvaged from the Koenig to make instruments. Some of these instruments are used in the space program and part of a WWI German battleship has been to the moon.
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Old 05-15-2020, 10:55 AM   #2
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Little more than twenty years later, the German Navy returned to Scapa Flow and sank HMS Royal Oak.

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On 14 October 1939, Royal Oak was anchored at Scapa Flow in Orkney, Scotland, when she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-47. Of Royal Oak's complement of 1,234 men and boys, 835 were killed that night or died later of their wounds.
The loss of the outdated shipóthe first of five Royal Navy battleships and battlecruisers sunk in the Second World Waródid little to affect the numerical superiority enjoyed by the British navy and its Allies, but the sinking had a considerable effect on wartime morale.
The raid made an immediate celebrity and war hero out of the U-boat commander, GŁnther Prien, who became the first German submarine officer to be awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.
Before the sinking of Royal Oak, the Royal Navy had considered the naval base at Scapa Flow impregnable to submarine attack, but U-47's raid demonstrated that the German navy was capable of bringing the war to British home waters.
The shock resulted in rapid changes to dockland security and the construction of the Churchill Barriers around Scapa Flow.

The wreck of Royal Oak, a designated war grave, lies almost upside down in 100 feet (30 m) of water with her hull 16 feet (4.9 m) beneath the surface.
In an annual ceremony marking the loss of the ship, Royal Navy divers place a White Ensign underwater at her stern.
Unauthorised divers are prohibited from approaching the wreck under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.


The technical quality leaves something to be desired but having recently watched the documentary on TV it's worth persevering with.

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Old 05-15-2020, 11:05 AM   #3
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That's an amazing story.
I have never heard about pre-atomic steel.

This should have been an early warning about WWII (and the Royal Oak).
"On the 21st June 1919 the German sailors began scuttling the ships and 51 battleships and other vessels went to the bottom of the Flow."
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Old 05-15-2020, 12:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diaphone Jim View Post
That's an amazing story.
I have never heard about pre-atomic steel.
TIL
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Old 05-16-2020, 10:54 AM   #5
Diaphone Jim
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Good old Wiki has a fascinating read on the history:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scuttl..._at_Scapa_Flow

Yep, Griff, TIL on the steel and the term as well as shitloads everyday.
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Old 05-16-2020, 10:51 PM   #6
xoxoxoBruce
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Since you all have lives, I try to update you now and then.
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Old 05-17-2020, 12:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce View Post
Since you all have lives, I try to update you now and then.
Heh, not all of us...I wouldn't call it that, anyway.
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Old 05-17-2020, 01:48 PM   #8
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If it's all about education then I think I can help out the writer of the quote in Bruce's opening post and anyone else who plans a visit. The plural of Orkney is Orkney. It is fine to say Orkney Islands or refer to the whole archipelago as Orkney but Orcadians get really annoyed by the word Orkneys so if you want to make friends when you're there...
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Old 05-25-2020, 05:51 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Rhianne View Post
If it's all about education then I think I can help out the writer of the quote in Bruce's opening post and anyone else who plans a visit. The plural of Orkney is Orkney. It is fine to say Orkney Islands or refer to the whole archipelago as Orkney but Orcadians get really annoyed by the word Orkneys so if you want to make friends when you're there...
The writer of this work appears to have been under no misapprehension about the singular nature of Orkney.



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Bloody Orkney: this traditional song has been attributed to a Captain Hamish Blair, RN, said to have been stationed at Scapa Flow during WWII.

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Old 05-25-2020, 07:37 AM   #10
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Ha, ha. Thanks for posting that, I really enjoyed it. I am actually familiar with the song (poem?) and although I can’t seem to find it right now I’m pretty sure I have a recording of it somewhere in my collection, albeit by a different artist.

While using Google to try to work out who recorded ‘my’ version I discovered that “Captain Hamish Blair” was in fact an alias of Andrew James Fraser Blair, a Scottish journalist and sci-fi author who died in 1935 meaning “Bloody Orkney” must pre-date WWII.
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