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Divers recovered a propeller from a World War I submarine on Monday, June 17 at the entrance to Cork Harbour.

It is believed to be part of the wreck site of the UC-42, the German World War 1 mine-deploying submarine, though this can only be fully confirmed on closer analysis of the archaeological object.

The project is very much a collaborative one, with project leads being a joint effort between Blackwater Sub-aqua Club and Mizen Archaeology, and supported by the National Monuments Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the National Museum of Ireland and the Federal Republic of Germany through their Embassy.

Is this the propellor off UC-42, the German World War 1 mine-deploying submarine. It can only be fully confirmed on closer analysis of the archaeological objectIs this the propellor off UC-42, the German World War 1 mine-deploying submarine. It can only be fully confirmed on closer analysis of the archaeological object

During World War I German forces organised a deadly submarine offensive in a bid to obstruct British supply routes and the entrance to Cork Harbour was regularly mined necessitating frequent sweeping operations by the British Navy.

The UC-42 sank in 30m of water, just outside Cork Harbour off Roche’s Point, on 10th September 1917 when a mine it was carrying exploded. All 27 crew on board the UC-42 were lost.

Later in 1917 an oil slick over the sunken vessel alerted the British Navy, who then dropped depth charges in the area and sent divers to investigate. They found the forward mine shoot empty, and the stern completely destroyed, indicating that one of the mines detonated prematurely. The divers discovered the hatches were open, suggesting the crew had attempted to escape. The periscope and documents including control room logbook were recovered as evidence.

The dive boat over the site of the wreck off Cork Harbour and below diver Gearoid O Looney enters the water to retrieve the propellorThe dive boat over the site of the wreck off Cork Harbour and below diver Gearoid O Looney enters the water to retrieve the propellor

diver Gearoid O Looney enters the water to retrieve the propellor

The exact location of the submarine remained unknown over the intervening years but was identified in recent years during seabed mapping for a pipeline project. It has since become a popular dive site. As the wreck is over 100-years old it is automatically protected under the National Monuments Acts 1987-2014 and a licence is required to dive the site.

Last year, while inspecting the submarine Timmy Carey of Blackwater SAC discovered a previously unidentified propeller lying close to the submarine. ‘’It was lying on the seabed detached and knowing that it was vulnerable to potential damage from trawling, anchoring or salvage, I knew I had to put a plan in place to safeguard the object.’’ Timmy discussed at the time.

He spent much of last year liaising with the National Monuments Service, the National Museum, and the German Embassy to ensure that all of the correct procedures, including all requisite licences, are in place to recover the object.

Malcolm Noonan TD, Minister for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform, said: “I am very pleased that our National Monuments Service was able to support this project, along with colleagues in the National Museum of Ireland, providing advice on the dive and recovery and conservation of the propeller. The UC-42 wreck is a significant part of our underwater cultural heritage and the final resting place of the German crew who were on board. It remains incumbent on us all to ensure we respect their remains. A collaborative project like this highlights what can be achieved on a shared heritage basis, bringing together the diving community, the commercial archaeological sector, our German Embassy colleagues, Local Authority and the general public to raise awareness of the heritage of our seas and how, together, we can ensure its protection and appreciation.
Over several months, a dive team of six divers, including underwater archaeologists, carefully assessed, recorded and excavated the propeller in preparation for recovery. Finally, this morning the historic object was raised onto the MV Harpy dive boat of Kinsale (skippered by Carroll O Donoghue), and brought ashore.

Underwater archaeologist, Julianna O’Donoghue, of Mizen Archaeology will continue to archaeologically lead, including the conservation of the propeller in advance of going on display in Spike Island Museum, in agreement with Cork County Council. Ms O’Donoghue said I’m anticipating the conservation process will reveal markings or finer details on the propeller which will further our understanding of the site, and confirm, or otherwise, if it is associated with the UC-42 wreck. The safe recovery, conservation and presentation of the object also very much denotes a best practice project relating to our fragile underwater cultural heritage.

The Ambassador of Germany to Ireland Cord Meier-Klodt added: “I would like to congratulate all involved for the successful recovery of the propeller of UC-42. We are now looking forward to the conservation work, which will hopefully allow for the propeller to be exhibited in a local museum. This will encourage more engagement with and learning about both German and Irish wartime history.”

Timmy Carey further added that the project also highlights how, if we all work together, especially with the relevant authorities, we can successfully recover vulnerable material from wreck sites like the UC-42 submarine. The project is significant as it offers an opportunity for the wider public to engage and interpret objects from such wreck sites and increase our understanding and appreciation of Ireland’s maritime heritage.

Published in Cork Harbour
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France, Britain and Norway sent military aircraft to the west Irish coast to search for a Russian submarine last week.

As The Sunday Times reports, the aircraft included a French Bréguet 1150 Atlantic plane which flew off the Clare coast, while a Boeing Poseidon P-8 aircraft sent by Britain and Norway flew off Sligo and Donegal.

The latter aircraft is said to specialise in tracking submarines, the newspaper reports.

Keir Giles, a Russian analyst at the London-based think tank Chatham House, told the newspaper that the effort demonstrated “how seriously” the three countries took the situation.

“It also shows how Ireland is not able to defend itself. The Irish would be involved in this operation if they had anything to contribute,” he said.

Ireland is a “central node” in a network of sub-sea cables crossing the globe, the newspaper says, and European intelligence agencies believe that Russia is preparing acts of sabotage in EU member states in the lead up to the European elections on June 7th.

Russian interest emerged almost three years ago when, in August 2021, the Russian intelligence ship Yantar was spotted off the coast of Ireland, close to the privately owned submarine cable AEConnect-1 running between North America and Ireland and the planned route of the Celtic Norse submarine communications cable.

Read The Sunday Times here (paywall)

Published in Naval Visits
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The “maverick design” of the Titan submersible made it more susceptible to implosion, the New York Times has said.

The material used for the submersible may also have been a factor, the newspaper says.

Five people – businessman Hamish Harding, OceanGate owner Stockton Rush, Suleman Dawood with his father, Shahzada Dawood, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet – died last month during a dive in the submersible to the wreck of the Titanic.

A New York Times report quotes Tim Foecke, a retired forensic metallurgist, as stating that the change in hull geometry from a tight sphere to a lengthy tube may have contributed to Titan’s catastrophic failure.

“A spherical hull distributes the stress evenly, making it the best shape for resisting the compressive forces of the abyss,” the newspaper says.

Any other shape will “tend to deform unevenly”.

A larger hull needs to be stronger and thicker to withstand the same pressure as a smaller one, Foecke explained.

Experts who spoke to the newspaper compared Titan to Alvin, a research submersible with an all-titanium hull which has completed more than 4,500 dives since 1973.

It notes that OceanGate created most of Titan’s hull out of carbon fibre, rather than the conventional titanium used for Alvin. Experts said the risky design saved money.

Titan’s hull was larger and held two more passengers than Alvin, which fits three. In three years of dives, OceanGate charged up to 250,000 US dollars per person to visit the Titanic.

Read more in the New York Times here (subscription required).

Published in Titanic
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Rescuers are racing against the clock to locate and retrieve a tourist submarine that’s gone missing while on a dive to view the Titanic wreck site.

According to The Irish Times, prominent maritime experts and explorers are among the five people on board the mini submarine which lost contact with the surface less than two hours after going below on Sunday afternoon (18 June).

The missing vessel is OceanGate’s Titan, which since 2021 has been running expeditions for paying guests to the wreck of the ill-fated, Belfast-built ocean liner some 4km below the North Atlantic, as previously reported on

Search teams from the US and Canada are combing the area some 600km off Newfoundland in a “complex” operation as it is unknown whether the mini sub has surfaced or remains on the ocean floor.

And time is of the essence as officials believe the sub’s crew may run out of air between Wednesday (21) and Thursday (22 June).

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Titanic

The British government tried to claim State immunity when seeking to recover a sonar array from one of its submarines which dragged an Irish fishing vessel backwards in 1989.

As The Irish Independent reports, State Papers reveal that Irish civil servants believed an agreed settlement between the British authorities and the skipper of the MV Contestor was preferable to the incident going to court.

A department memo dated September 13th 1990, which has been released as part of the State Archive, outlined concerns over the potential embarrassment of British legal action being triggered for the recovery of the towed sonar array.

The incident on September 12th 1989, occurred 40km east of Skerries, Co Dublin, when the MV Contestor alerted the Shannon-based Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre at 19.20 hours.

The vessel was fishing in the Irish Sea when its skipper, Sean Daly, reported that its gear had snagged a submerged object, and then said it was being towed backwards.

The vessel was able to break free, and recovered a towed sonar array from a submarine with the markings: “Admiralty Ref - Patrick Engineering Co – Serial No 119 of 1987.”

Irish officials raised serious concerns over the incident with the British authorities as it came less than a decade after an Irish trawler, Sharelga, sank after an incident with a British submarine.

Department of Foreign Affairs officials were notified on September 15th, 1989 that Mr Daly had initiated legal action for salvage under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894 – with the buoy being retained by the Irish authorities "until payment is made for salvage".

A department briefing note on September 13th, 1989 noted that the area involved is "marked on Admiralty charts as a submarine exercise area and fishermen are cautioned to keep a lookout for submarine activity".

Irish officials were subsequently made aware that Britain had obtained advice from an Irish lawyer that they could claim "state immunity" – which would prevent salvage being claimed and would involve the return of the sonar array.

Irish civil servants decided it was best not to give specific advice to the British Embassy but to make it clear that a negotiated settlement was in everyone's best interests, The Irish Independent reports.

"I suggest that we reply informally to the Embassy on the line that – the question of state immunity is for the courts to decide and we are not in a position to offer advice on the matter," J Farrell of the Anglo Irish Section wrote on September 13, 1990.

"We would naturally prefer if an agreed settlement could be achieved without the need for litigation."

The memo concluded with “the warning that the Department of Foreign Affairs could not interfere as requested by the British Embassy, given the statutory obligations on the Receiver of Wrecks under the Merchant Shipping Act".

Read more in the Irish Independent HERE

Published in News Update
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Today (Wednesday) in Plymouth in England, the Mayflower Autonomous Ship is expected to have her official launch, though the word is she has been test floated in advance. If that's the case, it was a prudent move, for although un-manned ships using Artificial Intelligence and other technologies have been ideas in the making for some time, this particular 15-metre trimaran – called Mayflower in honour of the 400th Anniversary of the Pilgrim Fathers' voyage in the original Mayflower from Plymouth in Devon to what became Plymouth in Massachusetts – is really pushing the envelope in just about every direction, as she will be reliant on AI, solar power and the auxiliary support of a wing sail to get her alone across the Atlantic.

Built in Gdansk in Poland for a partnership which includes ProMare and IBM, this 50-footer was originally supposed to have been launched at the beginning of the summer and to be starting her voyage around now, after extensive sea trials. But the pandemic has delayed everything, and the pioneering Transatlantic voyage is currently planned for early next summer after trialling through the winter.

Building the Mayflower Autonomous Ship in Gdansk

This may be no bad thing for the promoters of the project, as the western side of the North Atlantic at the moment is experiencing the most active tropical storm and hurricane-generating conditions ever recorded. Doubtless, we'll be feeling the effects of that in Ireland in due course, but right now the idea of sending a slip of a thing directly to America ultimately relying on solar power on a northern route re-tracing the original Mayflower's course of 1620 might well prove to be a test too far.

The two Mayflowers: the original took 66 days to get across the Atlantic in 1620Ghost from the past. The two Mayflowers: the original took 66 days to get across the Atlantic in 1620

In fact, if you're contemplating an east-west Transatlantic voyage across the direct route on the North Atlantic in the next few weeks, for your comfort and safety we'd recommend hopping aboard a west-bound nuclear submarine. Of course, this is the negation of using solar power. But as this department of has been in cahoots for a long time with that secret society which believes we're ultimately going to have to rely on nuclear power to save the planet, the entire idea seems utterly logical, and going underwater makes sense.

For it's on the interface between sea and air that boats and ships get battered about. Go silent, go deep, go smooth. Back in the day when NATO saw large fleets exercising in harmony, other navies noticed that around mid-day there seemed to be a slackening of activity among French submarines. Between 1230 hrs and 1430 hrs, you wouldn't hear a word from them at all. It seems they all gently descended to their own favoured smooth spots on the seabed, and there they sat in order to enjoy a proper French lunch – wine and all – totally undisturbed.

French Nuclear submarine of the Shortfin Barracuda Class. A descent to the peace of the seabed for an undisturbed lunch was, as they say in the Michelin Guide, "well worth the detour"French Nuclear submarine of the Shortfin Barracuda Class. A descent to the peace of the seabed for an undisturbed lunch was, as they say in the Michelin Guide, "well worth the detour".

So maybe if we want to send unmanned "ships" reliably across the Atlantic, we should be thinking under-water well below those bumpy waves, and use crew-less nuclear subs. The technology would be mind-boggling. But apparently some of the computing power being deployed for the Mayflower Autonomous Ship was originally devised to predict risks in international banking, and just look how successful that has been over the years…….

Published in News Update
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#ferries - A Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine has been involved in a near-miss with a ferry in the Irish Sea.

An investigation writes The Irish Times, has been launched into the previously unreported incident, which occurred on November 6th.

The ferry was Stena Superfast VII, which operates between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

It has a capacity for 1,300 passengers and 660 cars.

The submarine was submerged at the depth needed to extend its periscope above the surface of the water.

The Royal Navy would not confirm which of its 10 submarines was involved.

They are all nuclear-powered but only four carry Trident nuclear missiles.

A spokesman for the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said: “In November, we were notified of a close-quarters incident between the ro-ro [roll-on/roll-off] ferry Stena Superfast VII and a submarine operating at periscope depth.

To read more on the incident involving the ferry that operates Belfast-Cairnryan (not Stranraer as published) in the newspaper click here.

Published in Ferry

#Submarine - RAF aircraft have been joined by French and Canadian counterparts as well as a Royal Navy frigate in the search for a Russian submarine reported to have been seen off the Scottish coast.

According to The Scotsman, it's believed the search has been ongoing for more than a week after a vessel was detected north of Scotland, though the UK's Ministry of Defence would neither confirm nor deny such a search was taking place.

The news comes some three months after a Donegal crab boat reported a near-miss with a submarine off Tory Island on Ireland's North Coast.

It's not known what country's military that submarine represented, but it is feared that Russian subs might be secretly surveying undersea internet cables for potential strategic advantage.

However, searches for such rogue submarines have been blamed by environmentalists for prompting significant whale strandings, as reported on earlier this year.

The Scotsman has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Fishing - Donegal fishermen are counting their lucky stars after a near-miss with a submarine last week.

As reports, Seán Ó Briain says his crab boat came within just 200 metres of the sub, which appeared with little warning about 22km northwest of Tory Island last Thursday (3 September).

While the "general rule", according to Ó Briain, is to give right of way to fishing vessels such as his when setting or pulling pots, in this case "we needed to slow down to let the submarine pass".

Ó Briain added that daylight added to their luck both this time and in a similar incident this time last year, as they were able to take evasive action.

The story will bring to mind an Ardglass skipper's complaint that his prawn trawler was dragged backwards by a submarine in the Irish Sea this past April – an incident finally confirmed by the Royal Navy on Monday (7 September).

According to the Belfast Telegraph, Britain's Ministry of Defence admitted to the incident, which caused an estimated £10,000 worth of damage to Paul Murphy's boa and fishing gear, after "new information" came to light. More on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing
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#MarineScience - Following its issue by the Central Bank last year, the limited edition Silver Proof coin commemorating John Philip Holland, the Irish-born inventor of the modern submarine, was presented to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Marine Minister Simon Coveney during their recent visit to the Marine Institute.

Highlighting the significance of Ireland's strong maritime history, Marine Institute CEO Dr Heffernan explained how this country "is at the cutting edge of international marine research driving ocean discovery and exploration.

"Supporting the Irish-led first transatlantic mapping survey from Newfoundland to Galway this coming month [June 2015], the Marine Institute's national research vessel RV Celtic Explorer will be using its extensive multibeam sonar equipment mapping parts of the Atlantic seabed."

Dr Heffrnan added: "The oceans are the life support system of our planet – producing half the oxygen we breathe; providing us with a wealth of resources including food, minerals and energy; as well as affecting our moderate climate in Ireland. It is essential that we continue to improve our understanding of how the ocean impacts our live."

By 2020, in partnership with the Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance between the EU, Canada and USA which was established by the signing of the Galway Statement in 2013, Dr Heffernan says "we aim to be able to predict the major risks and changes in the dynamics of the Atlantic Ocean.

"Just as John Philip Holland set out to discover the depths of the sea over one hundred years ago, we continue this quest of discovery and innovation through advanced technology."

Published in Marine Science
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Coastal Notes Coastal Notes covers a broad spectrum of stories, events and developments in which some can be quirky and local in nature, while other stories are of national importance and are on-going, but whatever they are about, they need to be told.

Stories can be diverse and they can be influential, albeit some are more subtle than others in nature, while other events can be immediately felt. No more so felt, is firstly to those living along the coastal rim and rural isolated communities. Here the impact poses is increased to those directly linked with the sea, where daily lives are made from earning an income ashore and within coastal waters.

The topics in Coastal Notes can also be about the rare finding of sea-life creatures, a historic shipwreck lost to the passage of time and which has yet many a secret to tell. A trawler's net caught hauling more than fish but cannon balls dating to the Napoleonic era.

Also focusing the attention of Coastal Notes, are the maritime museums which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of historical exhibits for future generations.

Equally to keep an eye on the present day, with activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector and those of the energy exploration industry.

In addition Coastal Notes has many more angles to cover, be it the weekend boat leisure user taking a sedate cruise off a long straight beach on the coast beach and making a friend with a feathered companion along the way.

In complete contrast is to those who harvest the sea, using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety poses an issue, before they set off to ply their trade at the foot of our highest sea cliffs along the rugged wild western seaboard.

It's all there, as Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied to the environment from which they came from and indeed which shape people's interaction with the surrounding environment that is the natural world and our relationship with the sea.