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UK Divers prosecuted for keeping wreck salvage

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Two divers have appeared in a UK court after failing to declare £250,000-worth of historic treasure they plundered from shipwrecks.

Edward Huzzey, 55, and David Knight, 52, dived seven miles off the coast of Dover, Kent, to salvage the valuables from nine submerged vessels, some dating back more than 200 years.

The pair used explosives and professional cutting equipment to free material from one vessel carrying East India Company cargo in 1807.

Over the course of 13 years, they also raided German ‘U-8’, ‘UC-64’ and ‘UB-40’ submarines from the First World War.

But they failed to inform the Maritime and Coastal Agency’s (MCA) Receiver of Wrecks about any of their finds.

Their haul contained eight bronze cannons, worth £12,000 each, three propellers, ingot, copper, lead and zinc.

Huzzey and Knight used a boat with a large crane on the back to retrieve the half-tonne cannons, six of which are still missing.

The unique ingots were marked ‘William Harvey & Co – Truro’ on a vessel called the Harlingen which they found in July 2001.

The pair, who detailed their use of explosives and cutting gear in diaries found by investigators, pleaded guilty to 19 charges at Southampton Magistrates’ Court.

They now face large fines with maximum penalties of £2,500 for each undeclared find or the risk they must pay the rightful the owners twice the value of the items recovered.

Wreck material found in UK waters must be reported to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s Receiver of Wreck within 28 days in order to give the rightful owners a chance to claim it.

If no-one claims the goods within a year, they become the property of the Crown and the person who has found them receives a salvage award based on the value of the find.

This is the first time the MCA have brought a case to court for divers failing to declare their haul, breaking section 236 and 237 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

Knight pleaded guilty ten of his 18 charges while Huzzey admitted nine of his 12 charges.

District judge Anthony Calloway said: “Because you have admitted the charges it will stand you in good stead, Mr Huzzey and Mr Knight.”

Huzzey refused to comment and just said: “I would just like to thank the court.”

Speaking afterwards, Alison Kentuck, the MCA’s Receiver of Wreck, said: “All wreck material found within or brought within UK territorial waters must be reported to the Receiver of Wreck.

“It is not a case of ‘finders keepers’. Finders of wreck have 28 days to declare their finds to the Receiver.

“This case highlights the importance of doing that and demonstrates what could happen to you if you don’t.

“By reporting wreck material you are giving the rightful owner the opportunity to have their property returned and you may be adding important information to the historic record.

“Legitimate finders are likely to be entitled to a salvage award, but those who don’t declare items are breaking the law and could find themselves facing hefty fines.”

Mark Harrison, English Heritage’s National Policing and Crime Adviser, added: “We recognise that the majority of divers enjoy the historic marine environment and comply with the laws and regulations relating to wrecks and salvage.

“This case sends out a clear message that the small criminal minority will be identified and brought to justice.”

Mark Dunkley, English Heritage’s Maritime Designation Adviser, said: “The investigation has highlighted the need to tackle heritage crime, wherever it occurs, so that the remains of our past remain part of our future.”

The MCA also appealed to the public regarding the whereabouts of six bronze cannons that remain outstanding.

They were constructed in 1807 by W & G and have the English East India Company logo (VEIC) on them.

The pair, from Sandgate, Kent, will be sentenced at Southampton Magistrates’ Court on July 2.

Gear News

New from Fourth Element: the RF2 free diving wetsuit

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The team at fourth element have introduced their latest freediving wetsuit, the RF2. Streamlined and high-performance, this two piece 6/5/4/mm suit has been developed for freedivers who want to enjoy maximum freedom and ultimate warmth.

Lined outer panels around the core, arms and legs provide durability, a Glideskin across the shoulders and the hood maximises hydrodynamics. This hybrid freediving wetsuit offers cool and cold water freedivers the freedom to explore their limits in comfort.

Director of fourth element, Paul Strike said, “We’ve designed this suit with the consultation of professional freedivers, instructors and with the knowledge of freedive suit specialists. The RF2 brings together fourth element’s knowledge of thermal protection with freediving expertise at the top of the sport to create a high performance recreational suit.”

The suit is both comfortable and practical, being more durable than traditional smoothskin suits whilst retaining excellent stretch and form fitting design. The inner of the suit has a smooth cell Metalite coating; this provides extra warmth retention and is more robust than traditional open cell.

Daan Verhoeven, Freediving Cameraman said, “The RF2 is possibly the best off-the peg suit I’ve ever tried. As soon as I got in the water, I instantly forgot the suit. I was just comfortable and could move without anything pinching or water coming in.”

Features

  • Streamline cut optimising glide
  • 5mm comfort, flexibility and warmth
  • Open cell interior, lined exterior
  • Smoothskin outer hood and shoulders for extra hydrodynamics
  • Beavertail closure
  • Supratex seat panel for extra durability

RF2 Hooded Jacket and Leggings are available in sizes S – XL.

RF2 Hooded Jacket 6/5/4mm RRP: £229.95 GBP / €275.00 EUR

RF2 Leggings 5/4mm RRP: £149.95 / €179.00 EUR

Find out more at www.fourthelement.com

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Marine Life & Conservation

Parineeti Chopra teams up with PADI to create Ocean Change

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PADI® is thrilled to announce an exceptional PADI AmbassaDiver™: Indian actress, singer and PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Parineeti Chopra.

“A PADI AmbassaDiver is someone who is passionate about using their force for good to encourage others to protect our blue planet,” says Kristin Valette Wirth, Chief Brand and Membership Officer. “We could not have found a more respected and authentic partner as Ms. Chopra, a long time ocean lover, to advance our shared mission of saving the ocean. She is unmatched as a shining example of how to protect what you love – and inspire others to do the same.”

Chopra, who has always loved the ocean, experienced the magic beneath the surface in 2013 when she took her first breath underwater in Bali. As soon as she surfaced from that dive, she was hooked – and protecting the ocean became very personal for her, receiving her PADI Open Water Diver certification later that year in Palau. Since then, she has inspired others around the world, from her family and friends to fans in India– to try scuba diving so they can join her in seeking adventure and saving the ocean.

“The first time I came up to the surface after diving, I was crying because it was such a life-changing experience,” says Ms. Chopra. “It is now something I can’t live without. I make sure I do a diving trip every three months despite my work schedule because it is my form of meditation. And it is the place I am immensely passionate about protecting.”

“We are all equal underwater and all speak the same language. Over the years I have seen the changes that have taken place beneath the surface. During my time as a brand ambassador for Tourism Australia, I witnessed the bleaching and damage that has occurred to the Great Barrier Reef.  I was so sad to see this and am now committed to being a diver with a purpose. I have also seen first-hand how marine reserves, like the ones in Sipadan, Malaysia and Palau, prove how valuable marine protected areas are. As a PADI Diver, I want to make sure that our entire blue planet gets the protection it deserves.” continues Ms. Chopra.

With over 67 million social media followers and having recently starred in the Netflix movie The Girl on the Train, Chopra joins an elite group of celebrity influencers determined to take personal action and create real change for healthier oceans. Spending nearly all her free time diving around the world, Chopra shares her love for the ocean with her fans, as diving is an important part of her life that allows her to return to nature and reset. She will work with PADI to encourage others to experience the beautiful world underwater as PADI Divers and join her in helping to achieve balance between humanity and the ocean.

“PADI created the AmbassaDiver programmeme to support extraordinary divers who dedicate their lives to illuminating the path that leads from curiosity, exploration, and discovery to understanding, stewardship and action. Ms. Chopra is playing a very important role in ocean conservation, lighting the way for others to become divers themselves and mobilising communities worldwide to seek adventure and save the ocean with her,” continues Valette Wirth.

Ms. Chopra has big plans for 2022 – including becoming a real-life PADI Mermaid and taking part in citizen science projects during her dive trips around the world. Follow Chopra’s dive adventures, projects and hands-on conservation efforts with PADI on her Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

To learn more about Chopra and the rest of the PADI AmbassaDiver team visit www.padi.com/ambassadivers.

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A luxurious dive resort in the heart of Lembeh Strait. Enjoy refined services while exploring the rich waters of Indonesia.

The resort is nestled around an ocean front deck and swimming-pool (with pool-bar) which is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner cocktail at the end of a busy day of critter-diving.

All accommodation is full board and includes three sumptuous meals a day. Breakfast and lunch are buffet meals and in the evening dining is a la carte.

Book and stay before the end of June and benefit from no single supplements in all room types!

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – book and stay before end of June 2022

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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