Wednesday 1st February

Kevin Patience

Scapa Flow, Salvaging the German Imperial Navy



The story begins with the revolutionary battleship H.M.S. Dreadnought in 1906 and the Arms Race that ensued between Britain and Germany. In May 1916 the Royal Navy and Germany's Kaiserliche Marine clashed at Jutland, the only major naval battle during WW1. At the end of the war much of the German Navy was interned at Scapa Flow, a massive natural harbour in the Orkneys. On 21 June 1919 the entire German fleet of 74 vessels was scuttled apart from a few that were beached. The Admiralty declared ‘There can be no question of raising them’.

One gentleman thought otherwise. Ernest Cox with no salvage experience took on the task and in seven years raised thirty two warships, a feat unparalleled in salvage history. This is the story of that operation and Scapa Flow today using contemporary photographs from the family and newsreel footage from the 1920s and 30s.  Kevin spent twenty five years as a commercial diver and salvage master recovering vessels in the Persian Gulf and along the East African coast using methods pioneered by Ernest Cox.