In 2013 the Nautical Archaeology Society with funding from English Heritage (now Historic England) established a diver visitor trail on the protected wreck of the HMS m/A1 submarine that sunk in in the eastern Solent in 1911.
The aim of the project was to develop a visitor diver trail on the designated wreck of the HMS/m A1 submarine (designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act (1973) in 1998 (Statutory Instrument number 1998/2708), with an amendment in 2004 (Statutory Instrument number 2004/2395). The dive trail is organised and managed by the NAS in partnership with the Southsea branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club (SSAC). An underwater information guide for divers visiting the site has been designed that will aid navigation and assist visitors in recognising features on the wreck. This guide will also explain the background to the remains and the issues of protecting and managing the wreck. An online interactive visualisation will be created and supporting webpages will be hosted by the NAS and SSAC where descriptions and photographs from visiting divers can be posted. The trail will be promoted by press release, circulated to several major diving magazines, and promotional materials for local and major diving shops.
Diver visitor trails have to date proved a useful way of managing public access to wrecks protected under the Protection of Wrecks Act (1973). The goal of any diver visitor trail will be to improve public access to the underwater cultural heritage whilst not putting that heritage at risk of damage as a result of increased access. This project is aiming to emulate successful trails established on the other protected wrecks of HMS Hazardous in Brackelsham Bay, West Sussex, on HMS Colossus off the Isles of Scilly, on the Coronation wreck off Plymouth, Devon and on the Norman’s Bay Wreck off Eastbourne in Sussex.
The wreck of HMS/m A1 submarine was identified as a suitable candidate for a visitor diver trail as it is well documented, historically interesting to divers, substantial and upstanding which will make it easier to locate by visiting groups, because it is robust enough to withstand improved visitor access and finally because it is lies in a geographical position where visiting the wreck is relatively simple and safe.
Designing the trail involved collation of all the background information needed to design the underwater guides and the promotional materials.
Dive the A1 Submarine Protected Wreck site with the NASand the NAS Sub-Aqua Club
Every year the NAS and the NAS Diving Club www.nasac.org.uk offers chances to dive the A1 Submarine Protected Wreck site (15m maximum) along with the wreck of HMS Invincible (lost 1758) (14m maximum). Additional dates can be made available for group bookings of eight divers on demand. Contact the NAS.
Diving on the A1 Submarine Protected Wreck will be arranged with the NAS Sub Aqua Club on their RIB, out of Portsmouth. The cost for two dives is £30.00 as dive club guest fees.
The price to dive as a guest of the NAS diving club www.nasac.org.uk does not include equipment hire or cylinder fills. The NAS diving club has a limited supply of cylinders for hire at £5.00 per dive. No NAS qualifications are required to visit these wrecks. The NAS dive club requires you to have a minimum diving qualification of BSAC Sports Diver/PADI Advanced Open Water or equivalent. Proof of recent UK water dives will also be required.
Watch a video from the site here:
Dive the A1 Submarine Protected Wreck Diver Trail without the NAS
If you are interested in diving the A1 Submarine Protected Wreck Diver Trail without the NAS, please look on the calendar below to see which dates are currently free. To avoid too many divers on the site at the same time we are trying to give each diving group their own day or their own slack tide on the wreck. To see the dates already booked please look at the Calendar.
There is a slack(ish) period around 2 hours before HW Portsmouth and 5 hours after HW Portsmouth (best on neaps), however there is never much slack water whenever you dive the wreck so be prepared to drift off the site after your dive.
To arrange a dive trip to the A1 you will need to have you names added the licence and booked into the calendar. The licence is currently held by Martin Davies, who is happy to be contacted directly to book your visit in. Email Martin on firstname.lastname@example.org
The calendar can also be found by following this link:
A full screen version of the visualisation can be found here
Diver visitor trails have to date proved a useful way of managing public access to wrecks protected under the Protection of Wrecks Act (1973). The goal of any diver visitor trail is to improve public access to the underwater cultural heritage whilst not putting that heritage at risk of damage as a result of increased access. This project is aiming to emulate successful trails established on the other protected wrecks of HMS Hazardous in Brackelsham Bay, West Sussex, on HMS Colossus off the Isles of Scilly, on the Coronation wreck off Plymouth, Devon and on the Norman’s Bay Wreck off Eastbourne in Sussex.
Images - Left: The top of the conning tower © Martin Davies. Middle: A multibeam sonar survey images courtesy of MSDS Marine and Swathe Services. Right: Diver measuring the crack in the leading edge of the conning tower © Martin Davies.
Designing the trail has involved collation of all the background information needed to design the underwater guides and the wreck visualisation which has been created by 3deep Media Ltd, as well as undertaking new dives in 2013 to collect up to date photographs and videos of the condition of the protected wreck. In the same year the project was also lucky enough to be given new multibeam sonar survey images courtesy of MSDS Marine and Swathe Services, which has really helped to understand the wider landscape surrounding the wreck.
A1 Submarine Wreck Diver Trail FAQ’s
Q. Can I dive the site whenever I want to?
A. No. The wreck is protected under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 so you must be issued with a visitors licence to visit the site or have your name added to an existing licence held by another party. No survey, recovery or excavation work may be undertaken without additional licences.
Q. What is the easiest way for me or my group to dive the wreck?
A. You can dive the site with the NAS diving club ( www.nasac.org.uk ) who arrange trips throughout the year with the wreck licensee Martin Davies. Dates are listed on the NAS website calendar. Contact Mark at the NAS on email@example.com to enquire about availability.
Q. Can I apply for my own licence to visit the wreck?
A. Yes. See the English Heritage website for guidance on applying for your own licence to visit the wreck. If you are granted your own licence to visit the wreck, English Heritage will automatically contact Martin Davies as the licensee to ensure that two groups are not diving the site at the same time.
Q. When is a good time to dive the wreck?
A. Tidal information: There is a slack (ish) period around 2 hours before HW Portsmouth and 5 hours after HW Portsmouth (best on neaps) There is never much slack water whenever you dive the wreck so be prepared to drift off the site after your dive.
Q. How do I book a date to dive the trail?
A. Please look at the Google Calendar to see dates already booked by other groups and contact Martin Davies, the current licensee on firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions of a date or dates suitable to your group.
Q. What diving qualification do I need?
A. The wreck is 10m-15m of water so it is suitable for all qualified divers.
Q. Do I need an NAS qualification to dive the site?
A. No. In order to visit the wreck you do not need any archaeological qualification. If you would like to help record the site then we would recommend the minimum of an NAS Part 1 Certificate in Foreshore and Underwater Archaeology.
Q. Where would we be diving from?
A. The wreck can be easily reached from Portsmouth, Chichester, Selsey or even Bembridge on the IOW. There are lots of places to launch your own RIB from these harbours. Charter dive boats also run out of Portsmouth.
Q. How can we find the wreck?
A. Use the GPS co-ordinates for a good shot location off to the west of the wreck - Lat. 50º 44.541' N, Long. 00º 55.288' W (WGS84). These co-ordinates above are for a position about 20 meters off to the west of the conning tower. There will probably not be a buoy on the site, although there may be several nearby which are owned by local fishermen. PLEASE BE CAREFUL TO AVOID THE WRECK IF DEPLOYING YOUR OWN SHOT ON TO THE SITE.
Q. How do we obtain underwater trail guides?
A. Once you have a date booked to dive the site you will be contacted to arrange delivery and return of the waterproof guides for your diving group. These guides are available for a £5.00 deposit per guide which will be refunded when the guides are returned to the NAS. Alternatively you could print the guides and laminate them yourselves. Follow the link for a pdf of the two page underwater guide.
Q. Can I add my photographs to the project archive?
A. Yes. Please either send photographs to the NAS office and add your photos with a description and a date the photograph was taken or share with the NAS on our Facebook page.
Q. Can I take video of the wreck?
A. Yes. Please feel free to take video of the wreck. To help us build a better understanding of the site please supply a copy of the video to the NAS. There are a number of short videos hosted on the NAS YouTube Channel.
Q. Can I record the marine life for Seasearch?
A. Yes. The site is a wonderful reef for marine life. Please feel free to complete a Seasearch Recorder or Surveyor Form and send to Seasearch. The NAS would appreciate a copy of the form so we can see how many people are recording the marine life and what they are finding on the wreck.
Q. Can we help survey the site?
A. Yes. If you have already undertaken NAS training and would like to help improve the survey of the wreck please contact Martin Davies and a suitable task may be offered to you.
Q. Will I be required to report our dive details to anyone?
A. Yes. If you have your own visitors licence from English Heritage you will be required to report your activities to them. After you visit the dive trail the NAS will ask you to complete a short feedback form about your experience and asked to supply diving statistics to allow the NAS to monitor the success of the trail.
Q. What if I still have questions?
A. Please contact the NAS office.