Archaeology Marine archaeology ORCA

Visiting the Wreck of German Destroyer B98

As part of Battle of Jutland Commemoration Day, staff from Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology, gave a presentation concerning the B98 German destroyer wrecked at Lopness on the island of Sanday, Orkney.

Later that day a visit was made to the wreck site.

The B98 is a World War One German destroyer that has the distinction of delivering the last mail to the interned High Seas Fleet within Scapa Flow on the 21st of June 1919; the fleet itself had just been scuttled.

The B98 was one of two units of the B97 class of destroyer built at the Blohm Und Voss yards at Hamburg. Completed in 1915 she saw action as part of the 2nd Flotilla at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.  Engaged by cruisers and destroyers B-98 was hit once losing her after torpedo mount, 2 of her crew and 11 wounded.

During Operation Albion, a German land and naval operation to invade and occupy the Estonian islands of Saaremaa (Osel), Hiiumaa (Dago) and Muhu (Moon) which were then part of Russia in September and October 1917, B-98 boarded Russian destroyer Grom capturing five prisoners and securing a code book. Unfortunately, the towing of Grom had to be abandoned and she capsized shortly thereafter. During the night whilst proceeding to anchor near the wreck of Grom, B-98 hit a mine. She lost her bow with 14 killed and 7 injured but was able to limp back to port in Libau.

The B98 was to be assigned to one of the allied powers.  It is unclear whether a decision had been made as to which allied power the B98 had been assigned to. It is also unclear whether any decision had been made as to whether she would have been scrapped or re-used in the navy of an allied power.

She is reported as breaking her tow on the 17th of February 1920 and running aground off Lopness Bay, Sanday. The majority of the ship was subsequently cut up for scrap in the 1940s; it is unclear how much of the B98 remains beyond what can be seen visually.

One of the guns of the B98 is now on display at the Maritime Museum in Lyness, Orkney.

If you want to know more about the wrecks in Scapa Flow then click below:

Scapa Flow