Protected and adopted wrecks
Eighteen sites off the Dorset Coast receive some form of protection. Four have legal protection, which restricts activities on the site, whilst the other fourteen have been adopted by amateur groups under a scheme run by the Nautical Archaeological Society.
Wrecks designated as historic wrecks under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973, diving on these sites requires special permission. Full details of the legislation can be found on the Receiver of Wreck's website.
The Studland Bay Wreck
A Spanish merchantman which was wrecked in Studland Bat in about 1500. Further information on the wreck is available from the Poole Maritime Trust.
The Swash Channel Wreck
An early seventeenth century vessel, discovered in Poole Bay during 2004. Research on this vessel has only just begun.
The West Bay Wreck
Designated in 2005 this wreck is something of a mystery. The date, origin and name of the vessel are unknown, however the presence of a bronze cannon of seventeenth century date suggests that the ship was of some importance.
Wrecks designated as Controlled Sites under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986, diving on these sites is effectively forbidden. Full details of the legislation can be found on the Receiver of Wreck's website.
Designated as a Controlled Site under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986, diving on the site is effectively forbidden. Full details of the legislation can be found on the Receiver of Wreck's website.
H.M.S. Formidable was a battleship, launched in 1898, which was sunk by torpedo in Lyme Bay on 1 January 1915 with the loss of 547 men.
Several Dorset wrecks have been adopted by sport divers under the 'Adopt a Wreck' scheme organised by the Nautical Archaeological Society. This encourages recreational divers to take a serious interest in particular wrecks. The Dorset wrecks already adopted are:
- Halsewell - A British East Indiaman which was wrecked off the isle of Purbeck on 6th January 1786. The wreck has been adopted by the Halsewell Archaeological Group. This was the first wreck adopted under the 'Adopt a Wreck' scheme.
- Earl of Abergavenny -A British East Indiaman which sank in WeymouthBay on 5th February 1805. The wreck has been adopted by the Weymouth Underwater Archaeological Group.
- Black Hawk - A Second World War Liberty Ship which was torpedoed off Portland on 29th December 1944. The stern section sank, but the forward section was towed towards land finally sinking off Worbarrow bay. This wreck has been adopted by the Lulworth & Winfrith Sub-Aqua Club.
- Countess of Erne - A nineteenth century paddle steamer, she ended her days as a coal hulk in Portland harbour, finally sinking on 16th September 1935. This wreck has been adopted by ScubaPlus
- SS Kyarra - A twin-screw passenger and cargo liner, built in 1903 which was torpedoed by UB-57 on 26th May, 1918. This is one of the most popular dive sites on the Dorset coast. This wreck has been adopted by Diverz
- MV Aeolian Sky - A 10,715 ton Greek motor vessel which sank following a collision on 3rd November 1979.
The Kyarra and Aeolian Sky have been adopted by Diverz
- Antler Wreck - An eighteenth century coasting vessel carrying stone, as well as a box of antlers, hence the name which lies on Hook Sands off the entrance to Poole Harbour.
- Studland Bay Reef - A reef in Poole Bay which acts as a trap for objects washed around Poole bay.
- Valentine Tank - One of a group of amphibious tanks which sank in April 1944 whilst preparing for the D Day invasion of France.
The Antler Wreck, Studland Bay Reef and Valentine Tank have been adopted by the Nautical Archaeological Society.
- Betsy Anna - Built on the Tyne in 1892 as the Ashington, she was wrecked on Prawl Point in Devon, after undergoing temporary repairs she was under tow to Cowes when she sank in PooleBay in October 1926. The wreck has been adopted by the University of London Sub-Aqua Club.
- Salsette - A P&O liner specially built for a fast run between Britain and India. On 20 July 1917 she was torpedoed by the German submarine UB 40. She is still substantially intact, and was recently voted Britain's best wreck dive.
- U772 - A German U Boat probably sunk by HMCS Calgary on 30 December 1944, shortly after U772 had torpedoed the Black Hawk.
- Binnendijk - A Dutch steamer which hit a mine off Portland on 7th Oct 1939 and sunk early in the morning of the 8th of October in Weymouth Bay. All the crew were saved
- Unknown Coaster - This vessel lies alongside Portland Breakwater. It may be the Cragside which sank in 1923.
The Salsette, U772, Binnendijk and the Unknown Coaster have been adopted by Millennium Divers Dorset Explorers