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A digital map of the wreck of a 17th century London warship is being created

British divers are leading an effort that is expected to result in a digital map of the wreck of the 17th century warship London. The vessel is one of the most important English wrecks from this period. A team of professional divers are investigating the remains of one of England’s most important 17th century shipwrecks.
Published: August 25, 2021 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 23:07
A digital map of the wreck of a 17th century London warship is being created

British divers are leading an effort that is expected to result in a digital map of the wreck of the 17th century warship London. The vessel is one of the most important English wrecks from this period.

A team of professional divers are investigating the remains of one of England’s most important 17th century shipwrecks. The warship London sank in the Thames Estuary in 1665 after an accidental explosion occurred on board. Researchers discovered the wreck near Southend pier in Essex. The work is expected to result in a highly detailed digital map of the wreck.

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digital map of ship London Legendary ship

London was one of only three completed large wooden second class ships built at the time. She is also the only one whose wreck has survived to our times. Construction of the vessel was completed in 1656 in England’s Chatham Dockyard, under the direction of boatbuilder John Taylor.

Over the next decade the ship became a permanent part of British history. She took part in many of the country’s key events, and it was a turbulent period. London ended her service when gunpowder ignited on board and an explosion occurred. The ship was then on her way to collect supplies before going to the front of the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-67).

Artefact retrieved from water
Compass found on wreck
Work on the wreck

Using a state-of-the-art system developed by Sonardyne, researchers can accurately locate features of the vessel and record individual parts. The use of the underwater acoustic tracking system is important because the diving conditions and water clarity are simply abysmal. Divers who work at the site claim that visibility does not exceed 50 cm, and when it reaches this level, they consider it good.

The data that the dive team has collected will be used to create a comprehensive digital situation plan. Undoubtedly, this detailed map will be fundamental to the ongoing management of the site. It should be noted that the London shipwreck is protected by the government’s Historic England organisation.

wreck at the bottom of the sea The wreck has been entered into the register of England’s historic heritage at risk. All due to erosion consuming its wooden structure. Both the strong currents and the wood-eating organisms are large threat to artefacts and the surviving ship structure.

In 2020. Historic England funded a geophysical survey of the site using multibeam sonar. The survey carried out allowed a detailed comparison of the condition of the wreck. compared to previous surveys, revealed significant loss in some areas. All research and documentation collected is therefore of crucial importance to the world of science and English history. – – said marine archaeologist Hefin Meara

Historic England

Archaeologists partially uncovered the wreck during work carried out in 2014-2016. A sizeable number of artefacts were then brought to the museum. Among them were, for example, leather shoes, glass bottles and many other small objects. However, the most valuable discovery turned out to be an extremely rare and exceptionally well-preserved 350-year-old wooden cannon bed.

The diving project, which is expected to result in a digital map of the wreck, was funded by Historic England in partnership with MSDS Marine and Steve Ellis of the London Shipwreck Trust.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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