Divers plan to hunt for shipwrecks

PRESERVATION A painting of HMS Royal George, which sank in 1782
PRESERVATION A painting of HMS Royal George, which sank in 1782
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ARCHAEOLOGICAL divers will investigate three shipwrecks in the Solent in a bid to protect important historic sites.

English Heritage has identified 88 wreck sites in the seas around the UK, including three off Portsmouth.

Using port records, survivor details, and naval accounts, expert dive teams have worked out their locations and are aiming to explore the wrecks in a couple of years.

The ships are HMS Boyne, HMS Royal George and the Henry Addington.

Mark Dunkley, a maritime adviser for English Heritage, said: ‘Watercraft tell a fascinating story of England’s military, industrial and social history, but very little is known about those that existed before 1840.

‘That’s why we are taking the initiative to investigate pre-1840 ships and boats, from wooden sailing vessels to the very start of iron-hulled steam ships.

‘This is part of a wider programme to ensure current or future threats to the most important early wrecks are reduced.

‘We want to help ensure that future generations can understand and value these important sites.’

HMS Boyne was a 98-gun Royal Navy ship which caught fire and blew up in 1795 while anchored at Spithead.

HMS Royal George was a 100-gun frigate which sank while undergoing routine maintenance work anchored at Spithead in 1782.

The Henry Addington was a sailing ship which ran aground on Bembridge Ledge in 1798.