A second unexploded torpedo has been found in Scapa Flow. An exclusion zone of 500m was set up around the scene in the Orkney Islands, Scotland. A Royal Navy team of divers destroyed the weapon in a controlled explosion. The same method of disposal was used for the German torpedo that was found previously.

Scapa flow
The german high seas fleet are interned at scapa flow (late 1918).

Does this find pose a significant hazard?

Torpedoes contain some of the largest high explosive warheads of any weapon type. They were, after all, designed to sink warships weighing 40,000 tons!

The sonar survey found the torpedo in 100ft of water. It was in pieces and heavily rusted, with the presence of white material indicating it was still live and viable. However, such a device will only pose a threat if it is disturbed. There is an extremely low likelihood of such a weapon inadvertently detonating.

The Royal Navy divers identified it as a Mk VIII British torpedo. This model measured 6.6m in length and could carry a 365kg TNT warhead to a distance of 4.5km. It was widely used by the Royal Navy and allied navies during WW2.

A british mk viii torpedo being loaded onto a warship during ww2.

The history behind Scapa Flow

The UK coastline is littered with a wide variety of unexploded ordnance (UXO). UXO contamination is concentrated in shallow tidal waters for several reasons relating to historic conflicts, weapons ranges, coastal defences and marine currents.

Scapa Flow was used as a base by the armed forces in both world wars. The area is also where more than 50 German warships were deliberately sunk by their commander in 1919 to stop them being divided among the Allies.

Today, Scapa Flow is popular with divers due to the British and German relics that can be found lying on the seabed.

Marine UXO services

At Brimstone we provide a multitude of technical solutions to ensure that your project is safe and free of marine UXO. Our marine project team has a combined diving experience ranging nearly two hundred years, with diver medic technicians available for every project and all overseen by former Royal Navy clearance diver personnel.

If you would like UXO support for your marine project, get in touch with our commercial team.

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