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HMS Enterprise honours wartime wrecks

28 February 2019
The rainbow coloured ‘bar’ in these images give no clue to the tragedy which they disguise.

This is the wreck of wartime submarine HMS Vandal, resting on the seabed off the Isle of Arran as she has done for the past 76 years – as seen through the underwater ‘eyes’ of HMS Enterprise.

The boat was lost on trials in February 1943 – just four days after she was commissioned – entombing all 37 men aboard.

Vandal’s wreck was only discovered by minehunters HMS Hurworth 25 years ago, lying around 300ft down about a mile and a half off the northwestern tip of Arran. No cause of the disaster has been found.

The images aren’t especially obvious, but they are reminder of those who have served their nation under the seas.

Commander Cecil Ladislaus RN

All RN ships pay tribute to their forebears when passing over wreck sites, typically with a service of remembrance and wreath laying.

The hi-tech 3D survey suite aboard Enterprise – typically used to help the UK Hydrographic Office update charts of the Seven Seas for use by fellow mariners – allows the crew of the Devonport-based vessel to ‘inspect’ wrecks and produce graphics to show the current state of these hallowed sites.

Enterprise is currently conducting trials and survey work off western Scotland. While sheltering  from bad weather she passed close to  Vandal’s last resting place – prompting her Commanding Officer Commander Cecil Ladislaus to take a look at the sunken submarine.

“As a former submariner, the sight of HMS Vandal was understandably very poignant. She’s still intact, sitting on a slope in very muddy waters," he said.

“The images aren’t especially obvious, but they are reminder of those who have served their nation under the seas.”

Vandal is the second wreck scanned by Enterprise this month. At the beginning of February while in the English Channel she passed close to the remains of HMS Ghurka (as the name was spelled until the 1930s).

Commander Ladislaus decided to take a closer look at the WW1 torpedo boat as his hydrographers conducted a training wreck survey of the sunken warship.

The result is a rather less obvious cricket-bat-shaped red feature on the seabed.

Ghurka was assigned to the Dover Patrol, preventing U-boats slipping from the North Sea into the Channel and wider Atlantic.

She hit a mine off Dungeness in a storm in February 1917 and sank rapidly, taking down all but five of her 79 crew.

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