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The annual INFOMAR Seminar is a celebration of the year’s work by Ireland’s national seabed mapping programme. INFOMAR is funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and is jointly managed and operated by Geological Survey Ireland and the Marine Institute.

Attendees at the seminar, which will be held in Dingle, Co Kerry, on 16 and 17 October, will be among the first to see details of more than 8,500 of seafloor mapped, over 20 shipwrecks surveyed, and new 3D visuals of the coastal landscapes developed during the 2019 survey season.

The event will focus on Irish seabed mapping activities related to marine science, biodiversity, heritage and tourism in coastal communities. The event will feature an exciting line-up of experts presenting on; shipwreck mapping and archaeology, ocean literacy, marine ecology, ocean energy and infrastructure, as well as submerged and coastal landscapes and the connection between marine tourism and Fáilte Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.

Koen Verbruggen, Director of Geological Survey Ireland stated; “The INFOMAR seabed mapping programme continues to create significant positive impact at national, European and international levels, however this year’s annual conference in Dingle, Co Kerry, reflects INFOMAR’s prioritisation of engagement with local maritime communities who remain key stakeholders in Ireland’s national seabed mapping programme.”

“Ireland is an exemplar internationally in demonstrating best practice in ocean governance, through mapping, observing, predicting and managing our marine territory and resources. Connecting society with the value and importance of our ocean wealth is critical if we are to address today’s challenges, including climate change and population growth” said Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO, Marine Institute.

Minister Canney stated; “INFOMAR, Ireland’s internationally renowned seabed mapping programme is an impressive example of inter-agency cooperation within the Government of Ireland. By holding its annual seminar event in Dingle Co. Kerry, I’m delighted to see the programme engage with its stakeholders at a local level, conveying its role in supporting the development of industry, research, heritage and tourism within coastal maritime communities”.

The INFOMAR Seminar will take place in the Dingle Skellig Hotel on Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 October 2019. The event will include a special commemoration of the achievements of the Irish Baselines Project, and a live cast to MAREANO, the Norwegian marine mapping programme. Norway has just announced a new coastal mapping programme similar to INFOMAR which will complement the offshore activities of MAREANO. The event will conclude with a behind the scenes visit to Dingle OceanWorld Aquarium and to one of Ireland’s State research vessels, the RV Keary.

The event is open to all members of the public and interested people should register through the INFOMAR website www.infomar.com

Published in Coastal Notes
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#diving –In a landmark case today two divers from Kent have been made to pay a total of £63,500 in fines and costs for not declaring valuable items from shipwrecks off the UK coast.

David Knight and Edward Huzzey, both from Sandgate, had previously pleaded guilty to 19 offences between them, contrary to section 236 and section 237 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. Knight was fined £7,000 and Huzzey £6,500. They were each ordered to pay £25,000 in costs.

Items were taken from shipwrecks off the Kent coast, with the first known objects removed in 2001. The shipwrecks targeted included German submarines from World War I and an unknown 200 year old wreck carrying English East India Company cargo.

The items included eight bronze cannons, three propellers from German submarines, lead and tin ingots, along with various other artefacts. It's thought the combined value of the items is more than £250,000.

The MCA is aware from diary entries that Knight and Huzzey used explosives and sophisticated cutting equipment to free wreck material.

It's believed that six of the cannons had been sold on, but in the last fortnight they have been returned to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

Taking this into account in passing sentence at Southampton Magistrates' Court, District Judge Calloway, said: "The scale of the operation has to be considered to have been on an industrial scale: the resources employed were valuable and substantial, using good quality lifting equipment and explosives. Huzzey and Knight are friends and clearly operated in close co-operation to actively scavenge for material from the wrecks they explored."

Alison Kentuck, the MCA's Receiver of Wreck, said: "It is not a case of 'finders keepers'. Our message is clear: all wreck material found within or brought within UK territorial waters must be reported to the Receiver of Wreck.

"Finders of wreck have 28 days to declare their finds to the Receiver. This case demonstrates what could happen to you if you don't. By reporting wreck material you are giving the rightful owner the opportunity to have their property returned and you may be adding important information to the historic record.

"Legitimate finders are likely to be entitled to a salvage award, but those who don't declare items are breaking the law and could find themselves, just like with this case, facing hefty fines."

English Heritage has provided expert advice in relation to uncontrolled salvage on submerged archaeological remains and on the handling of the seized artefacts.

Mark Harrison, English Heritage's National Policing and Crime Adviser, said: "The sentence today sets an important precedent in the fight against uncontrolled salvage by a small criminal minority who have no appreciation for our national maritime heritage. Sophisticated techniques and equipment were used by these men to remove valuable artefacts from the seabed."

Mark Dunkley, English Heritage's Maritime Archaeologist said: "English Heritage takes very seriously all cases of heritage crime which robs us of our shared history. However, we recognise that the majority of divers do act responsibly and comply with the laws and regulations relating to historic wreck sites and salvage."

Published in Diving
Tagged under

#Diving - With the Lusitania back in the news, Ireland's wealth of interesting diving sites are bound to draw attention this summer.

But it's worth remembering how dangerous an activity wreck diving can be - as Gizmodo reader Magicguppy relates in a special column for the tech news website.

He recalls his first ever shipwreck dive in September 2006, to the remains of the Rondo beneath the Sound of Mull in western Scotland.

"Used as a passage for shipping for centuries, it had a certain reputation for wrecking ships — even in 1935," writes Magicguppy, who goes on to depict in vivid detail how the ship went down, not to mention how the danger persists today for those who want to get close to the wreckage:

"The surface current swept my dive buddy and I towards the buoy. I turned and saw it gunning down on me. Grabbing the rope under the buoy, I signalled to my buddy.

"I knew that we had to get down below the current, and if we let go, even for a second, we wouldn’t be able to fight the current and get back onto the rope. My buddy agreed: Time to dive."

Gizmodo has much more HERE. But be warned - some of the gruesome descriptions in this story are not for the faint of heart!

Published in Diving

#shipwreck – Silver recovered from the wreck of the SS Gairsoppa which was sunk by a German U-boat 300 miles southwest of Galway on February 17, 1941 is to be put on public display for the first time at an exhibition at Discovery Times Square in New York on May 24.

The SS Gairsoppa was a British steam merchant ship that saw service during the Second World War. The name Gairsoppa was given in honor of the stunning waterfalls in Karnataka, India. She sailed with several convoys, before joining Convoy SL 64. Running low on fuel, she left the convoy and headed for Galway, Ireland, until a German U-boat torpedoed and sank her.

The SHIPWRECK! exhibition features hundreds of authentic artifacts and historical treasures recovered from marine expedition firm Odyssey's deep-ocean projects from around the world.

Odyssey Marine Exploration recovered the silver from the 412 foot steel-hulled British cargo steamship at a depth of 4,700 metres below the surface. Recovery work began in 2012.

Odyssey recovered Silver from the wreck, which lies approximately three miles deep off the Galway coast will be going on display in the first public showing of some of the 1,218 silver bars of silver recovered the Gairsoppa, which is the heaviest and deepest recovery of precious metal from a shipwreck in history.

Published in Diving
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#Shipwreck - Two are reported dead after a shipwreck yesterday (Wednesday 10 April) on the Portuguese coast in what is a reminder to all cruisers of the dangers of strong winds in the region.

According to Portuguese language newspaper Publico, the deceased include one of the five crew of the German-flagged cruiser Meri Tuuli, and a member of the Portuguese maritime police attending to the incident who went into the water when his RIB overturned.

Eight people in total were admitted to hospital after the incident in which the Meri Tuuli - an X-442 yacht perated by a local sailing school - capsized on Cabedelo beach in Figueira da Foz, near Oporto.

Two are reported to be "wounded with traumatic injuries" while another two showed symptoms of hypothermia after exposure to the water.

Figueira da Foz is a popular cruising destination along the Iberian coast, but its port is vulnerable to the high swells that attract surfers to the area, sometimes closing altogether.

A source close to Afloat.ie described most harbour entrances along Portugal's west coast as "lethal during of after strong winter south or southwest winds" which are made stronger as air rushes into the valleys at river mouths as sea breezes.

Published in Cruising

#shipwrecks – In Dublin's Custom House today a stunning new book that showcases some of the more spectacular and important shipwrecks in Irish waters was unveiled. Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, TD together with Fergus O'Dowd TD, Minister of State, Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, officially launched the beautifully illustrated "Warships, U-Boats & Liners - A Guide to Shipwrecks Mapped in Irish Waters."

For the past 12 years Ireland's offshore waters and coastal seas have been subject to one of the largest seabed surveys in the world in a joint venture between the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) and the Marine Institute. Photographic and sonar images of over 300 shipwrecks have been compiled during the survey in co-operation with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht's Underwater Archaeology Unit (UAU), part of the National Monuments Service.

The collaboration between the State Bodies has led to the production of the new book which traces the fascinating history of 60 of the most historic shipwrecks around the Irish coast. The narrative combines archaeology, history and marine mapping and includes never before seen graphic imagery of how these shipwrecks lie on the seafloor today. It also provides in-depth historical background to each ship's construction, history and ultimate fate.

The joint GSI and Marine Institute INFOMAR project, and its predecessor the Irish National Seabed Survey, make up the largest civilian marine mapping programme worldwide and, according to Minister O'Dowd, have "truly made Ireland a leader in this field of endeavour." Over a similar period the UAU has built up an extensive database of shipwrecks (The Shipwreck Inventory of Ireland). "The current database holds over 13,000 wrecks", said Minister Deenihan, "and is an essential management tool for the preservation, protection and promotion of Ireland's rich maritime archaeological heritage."

Minister O'Dowd, commented that "as an island nation we instinctively know that our seas are important, but perhaps we are not fully aware of the scale of this natural resource and heritage they hold". He pointed out that "over 80% of our national territory lies beneath our seas, and that many of the benefits that might be realised for the Country from this resource, are as yet undiscovered."

Minister Deenihan remarked that many of the shipwrecks contained in the book "are important links to major events in our past that need to be monitored to ensure they are protected and preserved." The Minister said that there was "a huge maritime dimension to the shaping of our history in the years leading up to the foundation of the State" and that he was "very much aware of the importance of many of these wrecks to our history."

Pointing out that the publication reflected his Department's commitment to creating an awareness and appreciation of archaeology, Minister Deenihan said that it was also "a showcase of some of the best dive sites in the world which will undoubtedly attract many visitors from near and far"

Both Ministers congratulated the authors, Karl Brady (UAU), Charise McKeon (GSI), James Lyttleton (UCC) and Ian Lawlor (BIM), of this publication and highlighted the book as an excellent example of two different government departments working together in partnership, bringing together expertise in archaeology and marine mapping to highlight Ireland's leading role in seabed mapping and protection and promotion of marine cultural heritage.

Published in Book Review
Tagged under

#DIVING - WorldIrish have done it again with another great video find - this time following a team of divers off Donegal as they explore the wreck of the RMS/HMS Carinthia.

On 6 June 1940, during the Second World War, the transatlantic steam-powered cruise liner turned armed merchant ship was sunk by a German U-boat off Tory Island.

The video above shows some of the sights seen by Michael McVeigh and his diving team, including the ship's bow, the anchor telegraph and its wartime addition 6" gun.

Published in Diving

#LUSITANIA - The millionaire owner of the Lusitania shipwreck has rejected the findings of the recent TV documentary investigating the mystery of its sinking.

The Irish Independent reports that Gregg Bemis is seeking permission from the Government to mount another dive to the wreck site to "pursue the truth".

On 7 May 1915 the cruise liner RMS Lusitania was hit by a torpedo from a German U-boat off the coast of the Old Head of Kinsale in Co Cork, with the loss of 1,198 lives.

A second explosion was reported minutes later, and within 20 minutes the vessel was underwater. Only 761 people survived.

Last summer Bemis launched what was expected to be the last dive expedition to find out what really happened to the former Cunard passenger liner.

However, Bemis argues that the National Geographic documentary team behind 'Dark Secrets of the Lusitania' used "insufficient data" when they concluded that the second explosion on the vessel following a torpedo strike was from a boiler blowing up in the bowels of the ship.

He remains convinced that a secret cargo of Allied munitions was responsible for the devastating explosion that sealed the ship's fate.

"They did not have all the information they should have had," said Bemis. "They used a computer analysis to get their theory and a computer is only as good as the garbage you put in. You put garbage in, you get garbage out."

The American said only a second dive with complete access to the hull could uncover what he believes really happened - a project he hopes will take place before the Lusitania centenery.

Published in Maritime TV

#COASTAL NOTES - A 17th-century merchant vessel recently discovered off West Cork could have carried Ireland's first coconuts, the Irish Examiner reports.

The shipwreck near Schull was discovered embedded in silt 30ft below the surface by workers laying pipes for the town's new waste treatment plant.

A diving exclusion zone has since been established in the area to protect the site from looters and allow marine archaeologists to investigate the wreck undisturbed.

Coconuts found in the wreck indicate that the vessel was returning to Irish waters from the Caribbean.

Experts are hoping to establish the cause of the shipwreck, which may have been due to dashing against rocks in bad weather.

It is also speculated that the ship went down around the same time of the Sack of Baltimore in 1631, when North African pirates from the Barbary Coast attacked the area, kidnapping hundreds of locals.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes
A shipwreck off the southwest coast of Ireland has been found to contain the largest ever haul of precious metal at sea.
Some 200 tonnes of silver worth around €172m were discovered in the wreck of the British cargo ship SS Gairsoppa by a US exploration company, BBC News reports.
The UK merchant vessel was sunk by a German U-boat in 1941 as it was trying to reach shelter in Ireland.
Odyssey Marine, the firm responsible for the discovery, says it is now planning for the recovery of its cargo, with work expected to begin in spring next year.
"By finding this shipwreck and telling the story of its loss, we pay tribute to the brave merchant sailors who lost their lives," said the company's chief archaeologist Neil Dobson.
As per the terms of its contract with the UK Department of Transport, Odyssey Marine will get to keep 80% of the silver's value as profit.
The arrangement has been criticised for allegedly being more about "treasure hunting" than marine archaeology.
"Legitimate, professional archaeologists do not engage in the buying, selling, or valuing of artefacts," writes Mark Staniforth at The Conversation.
BBC News has more on the story HERE.

A shipwreck off the southwest coast of Ireland has been found to contain the largest ever haul of precious metal at sea.

Some 200 tonnes of silver worth around €172m were discovered in the wreck of the British cargo ship SS Gairsoppa by a US exploration company, BBC News reports.

The UK merchant vessel was sunk by a German U-boat in 1941 as it was trying to reach shelter in Ireland.

Odyssey Marine, the firm responsible for the discovery, says it is now planning for the recovery of its cargo, with work expected to begin in spring next year.

"By finding this shipwreck and telling the story of its loss, we pay tribute to the brave merchant sailors who lost their lives," said the company's chief archaeologist Neil Dobson.

As per the terms of its contract with the UK Department of Transport, Odyssey Marine will get to keep 80% of the silver's value as profit.

The arrangement has been criticised for allegedly being more about "treasure hunting" than marine archaeology.
"Legitimate, professional archaeologists do not engage in the buying, selling, or valuing of artefacts," writes Mark Staniforth at The Conversation.

BBC News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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