For the first time, non-divers can explore the protected historic wreck site of the Holland No.5 Submarine, which lies nine miles off the Sussex coast. She is one of the first submarines to be accepted into the Royal Navy in 1902 and carried one of the earliest periscopes. This new dive trail has been commissioned by Historic England and developed by the Nautical Archaeology Society.
Of the 53 protected wreck sites off England, there are currently five that you can access via a protected wreck dive trail. For those who prefer to stay dry, there are now also virtual tours of some of these fascinating historic wrecks.
The very nature of maritime archaeology, lying at the bottom of the seabed in an area only accessible by those with the right training and equipment, has meant that only a small number of people have been able to explore protected wreck sites. Over recent years, Historic England has commissioned 13 virtual dive trails on five of these sites so that everyone can tour a historic shipwreck without getting wet. The virtual trails use new technologies such as multi-image photogrammetric recording, 3D printing of geophysical survey data and virtual reality and augmented reality techniques.
These techniques allow viewers to see a clear 3D image of a site. Not only do they bring maritime archaeology to life for the non-diver, they’re a lot easier to interpret than more traditional geophysical survey techniques or photographs taken in poor visibility.
The Holland No.5 Submarine Virtual Dive
The Holland No.5 Submarine was designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act (1973) in 1995. The site was discovered by luck by Kent based diver Gerry Jowd and his friends who just happen to drive their dive boat over the wreck and notice a lump on their echo-sounder. The wreck was protected in 2005. The site is dived every year by the Nautical Archaeology Society.
The Holland No.5 submarine is a remarkable piece of our naval heritage. She was the fifth of the experimental Holland class submarines to be launched on 10 June 1902, at a cost of £35,000. She was built by Vickers, Sons and Maxim in Barrow-in-Furness, under licence from Holland Torpedo Boat Company and to a design by John Phillip Holland. She was launched one month ahead of Holland 6 (which was later designated A1). The British Holland class was an extension of the design used on USS Holland. She was equipped with one of the first periscopes; at the time of her launch, no other submarines in the Royal Navy or the United States Navy were so equipped. It was of British design, which used a ball and socket joint on the hull to raise and lower the scope. She was constructed of “s” grade steel, which at the time of her construction was only used on this class of submarine and the Forth Bridge. She utilised a single hull design, and so her pressure hull contained her fuel tanks, ballast and other internal workings. She was limited to a maximum depth of 100 feet (30m). Today the submarine is upright in 32m depth and in amazing state of preservation.
“We have been diving on the Holland No.5 Submarine since 2010 and have spent hours underwater recording the condition of the amazing wreck,” advises Mark Beattie-Edwards, NAS Chief Executive Officer and a current licensee of the wreck. “The development of the virtual dive this year means we can now share the experience of diving the wreck with the rest of the world, including the non-diving public. We hope it can raise awareness and interest in this amazing piece of underwater cultural heritage”.
Alison James, Maritime Archaeologist at Historic England said: “We are very proud of our virtual dive trails that allow people to experience protected wreck sites without getting wet. The new trail on the Holland 5 is fascinating and we hope people enjoy a virtual dive on this site.”
A series of videos have been produced and are available. You can find them all by clicking here.
To visit the virtual dive click here.
For more information on the Nautical Archaeology Society see: