Archaeology Marine archaeology ORCA

German High Seas Fleet Scrap Site Survey in Scapa Flow

sdrThis weekend, to a wintery backdrop, maritime archaeologists from the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA), the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute and colleagues from SULA Diving continued a high-resolution side scan sonar survey of Scapa Flow.

The project is designed to showcase the significant wreckage of the scrap sites of the German High Seas Fleet and was conducted on behalf of Historic Environment Scotland.


Mast and searchlight platform from an unknown ship

The salvaging of the German High Seas Fleet in the 1920s-40s raised battleships, battlecruisers and destroyers from the seabed scrapping at dockyard sites further south such as Rosyth. Today the remains of these ships and their associated salvage lie on the seabed, continuing to tell the story of the High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow, and providing an exciting and interesting heritage resource.


Analysis of the sonar data will be undertaken to identify what is present on the seabed and from which ships. Archival research and diver ground truthing are assisting in this phase of the project.

A University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute Side Scan Sonar course is now enrolling for 18th and 19th March. The course is being held in Shetland. More details available from