A1 submarine open to divers

Rediscovered early submarine wreck lies off Sussex

Author: Pat
2nd February 2012
 

Divers are now being offered access to the HMS A1 submarine, located off the West Sussex coast.

Like the better-known Holland class submarines, the A1 was one of the Royal Navy’s earliest subs, built by Vickers in 1902.

The vessel was lost with all hands in 1904 after a collision with another ship during exercises. But this was not the end of the story. The A1 was raised, repaired and re-entered service as an experimental craft.

Whilst running unmanned trials submerged, the vessel foundered off Selsey Bill. Although the position was marked, when salvagers returned to the site the A1 was nowhere to be seen – most likely she had drifted away in the strong tides.

In 1989 and a local fisherman asked diver Martin Woodward to identify a contact he had snagged nets on. On a sandy bottom at 12 metres was the wreck of the A1, located some five miles away from her last reported position.

Today the submarine has protected status due to its historical significance. Southern Coast Charters are now running trips out the site, which can be dived with a licence from English Heritage.

 
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