Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Scapa Flow is a body of water in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, United Kingdom. Surrounded by the islands of Mainland, Graemsay, Burray, South Ronaldsay and Hoy, it is best known as the site of the United Kingdom's chief naval base during the First and Second World Wars.
Already used by warships in the Viking era, the base remained in use by the Royal Navy until 1956. During both World Wars, German U-boats tried to attack British ships in Scapa Flow. Both attempts in World War I failed and U 18 and U 116 were sunk. Early in World War II, U 47 penetrated Scapa Flow on October 14 1939 and caught HMS Royal Oak in Scapa Bay. U 47 's torpedoes blew a 30-foot (9 m) hole in Royal Oak, which quickly sank. Of the 1,400-man crew, 833 were lost. The wreck is now a protected war grave. After the attack Winston Churchill ordered the construction of a series of causeways to block the eastern approaches to Scapa Flow. These "Churchill barriers" now provide road access from Mainland to Burray and South Ronaldsay.
Three days after the submarine attack, four Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 88 bombers raided Scapa Flow in one of the first bombing attacks on Britain in the war. They badly damaged the elderly battleship HMS Iron Duke, but one bomber was shot down by an anti-aircraft battery on Hoy.
Although "scarper", a slang word meaning to run away, originally derives from an Italian word scappare, meaning "to escape", it became much more popular after the First World War, when Cockney rhyming slang started to use the rhyme "Scapa Flow" - "go".
German High Seas Fleet at Scapa Flow
Following the German defeat in the First World War, 74 ships of the Kaiserliche Marine's High Seas Fleet were interned in Gutter Sound at Scapa Flow pending a decision on their future in the peace Treaty of Versailles. They arrived in November 1918, after the Armistice, and soon became something of a tourist attraction. On June 21, 1919, Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, the German officer in command at Scapa Flow, after waiting for the bulk of the British fleet to leave on exercises, gave the order to scuttle the ships to prevent their falling into British hands. Fifty-one ships sank. The nine sailors killed were the last casualties of the First World War.
Ten battleships were sunk: SMS Bayern, SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm , SMS Markgraf, SMS Großer Kurfürst , SMS Prinzregent Luitpold , SMS Kaiser, SMS Kaiserin , SMS Friedrich der Große, SMS König Albert and SMS König. SMS Baden was saved from scuttling by beaching.
Five cruisers were sunk: SMS Cöln II , SMS Karlsruhe II , SMS Dresden II , SMS Brummer and SMS Bremse . SMS Nürnberg II , SMS Frankfurt and SMS Emden II were beached.
- First Flotilla (G 40, G 38, G 39, V 129, S 32)
- Second Flotilla (G 101, G 103, V 100, B 109, B 110, B 111, B 112)
- Third Flotilla (S 53, S 54, S 55, S 91, V 70, V 73, V 81, V 82)
- Sixth Flotilla (V 43, V 44, V 45, V 46, S 49, S 50, V 125, V 126, V 127, V 128, S 131)
- Seventh Flotilla (S 56, S 65, V 78, V 83, G 92, S 136, S 137, S 138, H 145, G 89)
- Seventeenth Half Flotilla (S 36, S 51, S 52)
Four were beached.
Ernest Cox bought and salvaged 43 of the High Seas Fleet ships in the 1920s, an achievement most people at the time thought impossible. He used a variety of techniques. He lifted the smaller ships with floating docks and hawsers. With the larger ships, culminating with the 28,000-ton SMS Hindenburg, he patched all holes and then pumped the hulls with compressed air to force out the water and make them float upside down. Eight of the wrecks are still in Scapa Flow, and are a popular target for divers.
- Scapa Flow website by North Walls Community School
- Scuttling of the High Seas Fleet at Scapa Flow
- About the shipwrecks at Scapa Flow
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