A Royal Navy warship has been found by divers on the Scottish seabed – almost 105 years to the day it sank.
Torpedo boat destroyer HMS Jason has not been seen since she struck a mine and sank off the island of Coll in the Inner Hebrides in April 1917.
But after five years of research and surveying, the wreck of the Jason was found first on sonar – then confirmed by a team of divers who plunged 93 metres into the chilly waters.
They found the warship in surprisingly good condition – but minus her bow, blown off when she struck the mine… ironically during a minesweeping operation in company with HMS Circe.
The depth, weather and water conditions, the undulating seabed and the fact that dives are only possible at certain times of year have meant the wreck had not been found – despite Jason’s loss being accurately documented, even photographed, at the time.
The discovery is the work of historians Wendy Sadler and Kevin Heath from Lost in Waters Deep, who research contemporary records and the personal history of crew, and a team from Orkney-based SULA Diving led by Steve Mortimer and their support boat MV Clasina, skippered by Bob Anderson.
A sonar scan earlier this year suggested HMS Jason had been found – no other wrecks were known in the area – but it needed visual confirmation.
At 93 metres down, divers had just 20 minutes to inspect the wreck before returning to the surface.
They found tell-tale features of a warship: a pointed stern, a distinctive propeller, two 4.7in guns and Admiralty crockery.
Among the dive team was Royal Navy officer Lieutenant Jen Smith who works at the Fleet’s headquarters in Portsmouth.
“There was excitement at finding the wreck, but that’s quickly tempered by the fact that it’s a war grave – 25 men died here,” she said.
“It’s incredibly moving to think that no-one has seen the ship since her stern disappeared 105 years ago. Families knew the fate of the ship, but now they will know where she is and that can bring closure.”
Mortimer added: “It was a privilege to help identify the remains of this vessel. 25 families can now take comfort that the location of their relatives’ ship is precisely known. We think that’s important.”