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David Crofts

Head of MBDA UK’s Complex Warheads Centre of Excellence

David is Head of MBDA UK’s Complex Warheads Centre of Excellence, International Capability Manager for Lethality, and a member of the company’s Technical Expert community with over 30 years of domain experience. In his spare time, he is a keen Technical Scuba Diver with a particular interest in the naval wrecks of Scapa Flow. David was an active member of the HMS Royal Oak 80 Survey Team, and previously the HMS Vanguard 100 Survey team, voluntarily contributing his time and expertise to the 22 strong volunteer diving team, and the reporting and dissemination, of which this presentation forms a part.

David Crofts
HMS Royal Oak 80 Survey – Ordnance, Munitions and Torpedo Damage

During the late evening of October 13th, 1939 the German submarine U 47 entered the Scapa Flow naval anchorage in Orkney, Scotland and torpedoed the British battleship HMS Royal Oak. 835 sailors lost their lives and the wreck has been designated a war grave and protected site. It is visited annually by the Royal Navy Northern Diving Group for commemoration, and fuel oil has been removed from the wreck in recent years to lessen the environmental risk. HMS Royal Oak lies almost inverted on her starboard side in ~35m of seawater within sight of Orkney’s principal town Kirkwall. She still contains her out-load of ammunition, and the torpedoes fired at her have not all been accounted for.

The HMS Royal Oak 80 Survey was conducted between November 2018 and November 2019 under a special license from the Secretary of State for Defence. Free swimming divers surveyed the wreck-site using videography, still photography and 3D photogrammetry, their purpose to document the war grave at 80 years underwater for the historical record, and disseminate to non-divers and future generations in memory of those lost. The survey has included a detailed examination of the exposed munitions on the site, and the torpedo damage to the ship.

This presentation will show and explain results from the survey, including high resolution and detailed imagery using new and emerging techniques. New information regarding the distribution and condition of exposed munitions and insight into the sinking and damage sustained by the ship from the torpedo attack will be presented.