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Leamington diver awarded for research into 'City of Winchester' wreck

The oldest wreck of an English merchant ship that was sunk during the First World War by a German vessel has a keeper. Steve Dover has been awarded the BSAC (British Scuba Aqua Club) prize for his research into the legendary wreck, which has spanned more than two decades. The ship had been resting at
Published: December 11, 2017 - 07:45
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 16:07
Leamington diver awarded for research into ‘City of Winchester’ wreck

The oldest wreck of an English merchant ship that was sunk during the First World War by a German vessel has a keeper. Steve Dover has been awarded the BSAC (British Scuba Aqua Club) prize for his research into the legendary wreck, which has spanned more than two decades.

The ship had been resting at the bottom of a bay near the forgotten Hallaniyat Islands, off the southern coast of Oman, since its sinking in 1914. Steve learned of the wreck in the 1990s and decided to buy it back for the sum of one British pound from the Omani authorities. He could not accept that such a historically important ship could fall into oblivion.

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He led two Royal Geographical Society expeditions to the Hallaniyat Islands, involving marine biology students from Oman and British divers.

The huge British steamer “City of Winchester”, carrying tea and antlers, was captured by the German ship SMS “Konigsberg” on the sixth of August 1914, then sunk near the islands. No information about any survivors of the ship’s crew has been preserved. The wreck was discovered in 1986 by Derek Brown and Chris Neely. In 1998, during an expedition they were leading, Steve Dover became one of the first people to dive into the wreck.

Steve was delighted by the wealth of underwater life that found a home in the British ship. Even dolphins and humpback whales could be seen there. The expedition was also significant for another reason – it involved Chris Lees, whose grandfather was a radio operator on the ‘City of Winchester’.

BSAC is an organisation of over 900 dive clubs and is run by volunteer divers from the UK and beyond. It is represented by over 28,000 divers, both beginners and professionals.

The BSAC Wreck Award was first presented in 2014 and aims to popularise British underwater history. In doing so, BSAC encourages divers to explore the wrecks of historically important British ships and vessels to ensure they are not forgotten and destroyed.

Source: leamingtoncourier.co.uk Photo: wrecksite.eu

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Gosia Harasimowicz
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