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Wreck of Royal Navy landing craft tank (LCT) was found by divers off the coast of Cornwall

Published: July 24, 2023 - 14:48
Updated: July 24, 2023 - 15:05
Wreck of Royal Navy landing craft tank (LCT) was found by divers off the coast of Cornwall

A team of British divers is believed to have found the wreck of a Royal Navy landing craft tank (LCT), one of six lost off the coast of Cornwall in the 1944 tragedy.

A team of British divers named “Gasperados” believe they have found the wreck of one of six landing craft tanks (LCT) that sank during a storm in 1944 off the coast of Cornwall, near Land’s End. More than 50 Royal Navy sailors died in the tragedy at the time.

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landing craft tank (LCT)
The exit point of the prop shaft on the sunken LCT, Photo: Rick Ayrton 


Wreck of a landing craft tank (LCT)

In October 1944, the Brits lost in the region six landing craft tanks numbered: 480, 488, 491, 494, 7014 and 7015. The vessels were hit by an very strong storm, which led to a tragedy. Unsuited to such conditions, the Royal Navy vessels and their crews found themselves in a dramatic position fighting for their lives.

Recently, a group of ‘Gasperados’ from Newquay carried out dives from the Atlantic Diver boat, diving in the region of the westernmost tip of English land in the hope of locating a particular wreck. However, they were unsuccessful, but instead came across something that appeared to be the wreck of an unusual vehicle, possibly an amphibious craft. In an effort to establish what they were dealing with they contacted Dr Harry Bennett, Associate Professor of History at Plymouth University.

“The tragic story of the lost convoy of LCTs which this wreck brings to the fore is a brutal reminder that in the midst of war our mariners still had to contend with the old foes of unrelenting storms and the cruel sea to sometimes deadly effect” – said Dr Bennett

Lightweight right-angle beam construction
Lightweight right-angle beam construction with rivet holes on the wreck, Photo: Rick Ayrton 


It was he who put them on the trail, suggesting that it might be one of six lost landing craft tanks that the Britons lost while being towed to Asia in 1944. They were intended to be used in the planned invasion of Japan as part of Operation Downfall.

October 1944

After the successful Allied landing in Normandy and the liberation of France from German occupation, the decision was taken to repair and modernise the transport units. They were then to be prepared for the long voyage and the change of front from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

In mid-October 1944, the ships of the 9th LCT Flotilla left ports in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales. Their objective was to link up with convoy OS92/KMS66, which was heading to the Mediterranean and then ultimately to Asia.

LCT 7074
LCT 7074 Photo: Barbara Mortimer


Unfortunately, the use of vessels that were in no way suitable for this type of voyage had to end tragically. The older LCTs could face winds of 4 degrees Beaufort and the newer ones 6 degrees. Meanwhile, on 18-19 October 1944, a 9-degree storm swept through the convoy, giving the sailors no chance.

The stormy sea, strong waves and wind reaching speeds of 55 miles per hour created a deadly combination. The real miracle was that more than 100 sailors were rescued in these conditions. However, as many as 55 others lost their lives, including some of the sailors involved in the rescue operation who were just washed off the deck by the waves. Diving Conference

Further dives on the wreck are planned in order to establish the precise identity of the wreck and to closely document the found ship. The results of this work will be available later this year at the diving conference to be held at Plymouth University on 25 November.

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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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