Modern Shipwrecks: Visualising HMS Royal Oak: A Multi-Modal Approach

Chris Rowland, Kari Hyttinen (Contributing member)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


HMS Royal Oak was a Revenge Class battleship commissioned in 1916. The ship saw combat at the Battle of Jutland and was refitted in 1922-24. Royal Oak was later transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in Malta. In 1938 the ship returned to the Home Fleet before heading to Scapa Flow, Orkney at the start of WWII.

Although the Anchorage in Scapa Flow was protected by block ships and boom nets, in the early hours of October 14th 1939, U-47 breached the defences and fired six torpedoes at Royal Oak, two of which missed their target, the others hit the bow and the ship's hull. The Oak listed to starboard and sank with the loss of 834 lives.

The shipwreck lies at 32m and was designated a war grave under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986. The wreck sank with tons of fuel oil and significant amounts of unexploded ordnance. In 2006 the MoD commissioned a multi-beam sonar survey of the wreck by ADUS to ascertain the conditon of the wreck and to support the removal of oil operations.

As the 80th anniversary of the sinking approached in October 2019, a survey licence was granted by the MoD to an international team to gather video, photographs and 3D Photogrammetry of the wreck using contemporary methods. The resulting 2D and 3D images provide a highly detailed vision of the wreck in it's current condition, revealing new evidence of the events of her sinking. This paper will present and discuss these results.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIKUWA7 Abstract Book
Subtitle of host publication7th International Congress for Underwater Archaeology: Helsinki 2022
PublisherUniversity of Helsinki
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2022
EventIKUWA 7: 7th International Congress for Underwater Archaeology - Finland, Helsinki, Finland
Duration: 7 Jun 202210 Jun 2022
Conference number: 7


ConferenceIKUWA 7
Abbreviated titleIKUWA
Internet address


  • 3D computer graphics
  • Shipwrecks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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