Royal Navy War Graves

Research output: Other contribution


The UK Royal Navy War Graves project comprises three MoD licensed underwater surveys of the historically significant Naval shipwrecks located on the seabed around Orkney. Each ship was lost during active duty in wartime and resulted in significant loss of life. The wrecks are protected under the UK Protection of Wrecks Act 1973, which prevents diving, unauthorised access and removal of artefacts. The license granted by the MoD was unprecedented for these historic shipwrecks. The project shipwrecks were HMS Hampshire, 2016 (737 crew lost), HMS Vanguard, 2017 (843 lost) and HMS Royal Oak, 2018-19 (835 lost).

The unique 3D data captured from these surveys were developed as interactive 3D visualisations using methods developed by Rowland and Anderson between 2016 and 2020. The projects presented different challenges, allowing them to improve the following 3D visualisation techniques:

●Colour correction – remove colour loss due to water depth and low visibility;
●Ambient occlusion – self-shadowing to enhance the appearance of fine details;
●Noise filtering to remove items of detritus in the water.

The resulting 3D images revealed new knowledge about the condition of the wrecks and contributed to the historical record of their sinking. This work has been presented and disseminated to a wide range of audiences, including the Royal Navy, the Royal Oak Society during the 80th anniversary events and the public, through conferences, journal articles, invited talks and the media. The HMS Royal Oak project is the subject of a 50-minute documentary created by the survey team (produced by Rowland), supported by the HMS Royal Oak Society, which includes interviews with historians, Naval experts and witnesses to the original events. Each project also included a published report submitted to the MoD (digital and hard copies attached), which is publicly available.
Original languageEnglish
TypeMulti Component Output
PublisherUniversity of Dundee
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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