A diver at the stern of the 'Arfon' - the site has been protected by the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Photo © Swanage Boat Charters Ltd)

WW1 minesweeping trawler wreck protected

Posted on centenarynews.com on 05 September 2016
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The  'exceptionally well-preserved' wreck of a trawler used by the British navy to sweep for mines during the First World War has been given special protection by the UK Government.

First discovered off the Dorset coast in 2014, the Arfon is considered to be at risk from souvenir hunters and uncontrolled salvage.

The steam fishing boat sank after hitting a mine in April 1917, with the loss of 10 lives. A commemorative event is being planned for the 2017 Centenary. 

For three years, the trawler had worked out of the Royal Navy's Portland Harbour base, sweeping mines laid by German U-boats along inshore shipping lanes.

Conservationists Historic England say the Arfon is exceptionally well preserved with key features such as its mine-sweeping gear, deck gun, portholes and engine room still intact on the seabed.  

Joe Flatman, Head of Listing Programmes at Historic England said: "The Arfon shipwreck is a rare survivor of a type of vessel once very common around the coastline of Britain but which has now entirely disappeared, surviving only in documents and as wrecks like this one.

"Trawlers, minesweepers and other coastal patrol vessels played a crucial role in keeping the sea lanes around the British Isles open during both World Wars, a part of the war effort that is often overlooked. 

"The crews who served aboard such vessels  faced tremendous dangers with unstinting bravery and devotion to duty. Historic England is proud to help tell part of this hidden story of naval endeavour during the First World War as part of our work".

The finders of the wreck, Martin and Bryan Jones, run a family dive charter business. They're now working to secure its preservation. 

Martin Jones said: "We are delighted to be working with Historic England to protect and investigate the Arfon and we’re planning a special commemoration to mark the centenary of its sinking next April."

The Arfon has been protected under UK law by the Department for Culture Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England. It means that access to the site is restricted only to divers who have been granted a licence by Historic England.  

Also in Centenary News:

Forgotten Wrecks of the First World War - a Maritime Archaeology Trust centenary project

Source: Historic England

Images © Swanage Boat Charters Ltd

Posted by: CN Editorial Team