Innes McCartney

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Dr. Innes McCartney
I McCartney.jpg
Born24 March 1964 (1964-03-24) (age 55)
EducationKeele, Exeter and Bournemouth Universities
OccupationNautical archaeologist, explorer, historian, author
Known forDiscovery of historic shipwrecks, archaeology of modern shipwrecks
WebsiteBournemouth University Staff Profile

Dr. Innes J. McCartney (born 1964) is a British nautical archaeologist, and historian. He is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Bournemouth University.


McCartney is an award-winning nautical archaeologist who specialises in the discovery of and investigation into twentieth-century shipwrecks including the wrecks of the Battle of Jutland and the U-boat wars. He specialises in examining how understandings of the past are revised by the interaction of shipwreck archaeology with the historical record.[1] He sits on the editorial board of the Society for Nautical Research and is the reviews editor of The Mariner's Mirror.

In 1989 he became involved in shipwreck archaeology when he learned to dive. One of Britain's first Trimix-certified scuba divers, in 1998 became the first person to have dived on the three great liner wrecks, SS Andrea Doria, RMS Lusitania and HMHS Britannic.

In 1999 he discovered the 12-inch-gunned submarine HMS M1[2] off Start Point in the English Channel.

In 2001 he discovered the wreck of HMS Indefatigable[3] sunk at the Battle of Jutland and in 2003 co-produced the Channel 4 documentary "Clash of the Dreadnoughts"[4] which included surveys of HMS Defence[5] and HMS Invincible.[6]

In 2001-2 McCartney led expeditions to identify some of the U-boats sunk during Operation Deadlight. Fourteen U-boats were surveyed and several new sites discovered[7][8] including the rare Type XXI U-boat, U2506 once under the command of Horst von Schroeter and the successful Type IXC U-boat, U155 commanded by Adolf Piening.

In 2003, McCartney was featured in the Channel 4 series Wreck Detectives. In the film he identified the mystery World War I U-boat off Trevose Head, Cornwall as UB-65[9] by scraping the propellers to reveal the shipyard stamp. This proved that even at 60 metres' depth, war graves of this type can be identified by divers without the need to scavenge parts from them.

In 2006 McCartney was the lead contributor in the award-winning Deep Wreck Mysteries episode, "U-boat Death-Trap" which depicted his search for the identity of three mystery U-boats off the north coast of Cornwall. In the same year he discovered the German auxiliary raider HSK Komet in the English Channel [10]. At the time, it was the only known example of this type of warship anywhere in the world.

In 2008 he found the White Star Line transport SS Armenian[11][12] off the Scilly Isles as part of the Deep Wreck Mysteries[13] television series. He also featured in the episodes "Death of a Battleship" which investigated the loss of HMS Audacious in 1914 and in "Stealth Sub" which investigated the loss of U480, a sub he had previously identified in 1998.

In 2011 he identified the very early U-boat, UA off Folkestone. German-built in 1912 and destined for the Norwegian navy, it was taken over by the Imperial German Navy in 1914. It was long thought to have been scrapped in France after 1918.[14]

In 2012 McCartney worked alongside wreck hunter David Mearns on an archaeological investigation of the wreck of HMS Hood, sunk in 1941. This project was supported by philanthropist Paul Allen aboard his yacht Octopus. The expedition findings were featured in the Channel Four documentary "How the Bismarck sank HMS Hood".[15]

In 2013 McCartney featured as the lead contributor on a Time Team Special entitled "The Lost Submarine of WW1".[16] This film examines the pioneering submarines of the First World War. He also identified the remains of the World War I U-boats SM UC-72 and SM UB-114 in the waters of the English Channel [17].

In 2014 McCartney completed his PhD at Bournemouth University entitled "The Maritime Archaeology of a Modern Conflict: Comparing the archaeology of German submarine wrecks to the historical text".[18] It was published by Routledge in December of the same year. It shows the extent to which historical sources relating U-boat losses in UK waters in both world wars differ from the actual distribution of the known and identified wrecks. Over 40% of those investigated had no historical precedent. The accuracy of the historic text fell as low as 36% during 1945. In November he was awarded the Reg Vallintine Achievement Award for Historical Diving.

In 2015 and 2016 McCartney worked as archaeological advisor to JD-Contractor (Denmark's leading underwater contractor) and the Sea War Museum Jutland on detailed archaeological shipwreck surveys utilising swath bathymetry (multibeam) off the west coast of Denmark which included all of the heretofore undiscovered wrecks of the Battle of Jutland. This was published in "Jutland 1916: The Archaeology of a Naval Battlefield" [19] and was the basis of the Channel 4 documentary "Jutland: WWI's Greatest Sea Battle",[20] both released in May 2016. Other newly discovered sites included the British submarine HMS Tarpon.[21] The wreck was the subject of a live broadcast by Denmark's public television channel DR3 on 28 August 2016 in which McCartney contributed.[22]

2016 also saw McCartney assist Scottish Power in identifying a World War I UB-III Class U-boat off the Wigtownshire coast which was found during the seabed survey for an undersea power cable between England and Scotland.[23] McCartney has suggested the wreck is UB-82 or possibly UB-85 which were both sunk after attacks by British patrol boats in April 1918.[24]

In January 2017 working again with JD-Contractor and the Sea War Museum Jutland, McCartney partook in the most comprehensive survey ever undertaken of the seabed of the Scapa Flow naval anchorages. Aboard the survey ship Vina, the multibeam survey covered 40 square kilometres.[25] The results were published in May 2019 in "SCAPA 1919: The Archaeology of a Scuttled Fleet" [26]. In December 2017 he was awarded the 2016 Anderson Medal by the Society for Nautical Research.

In 2018 McCartney embarked on a three-year Leverhulme funded Early Career Fellowship researching how remote sensing can be applied to inventorise large numbers of shipwrecks at the regional level [27]. He also contributed to two episodes of Drain the Oceans television series, "Drain the Oceans: S01 E01 Nazi Secrets",[28] and "Drain the Oceans: SO2 E03 Killer U-Boats",[29].


  • The Anderson Medal of the Society for Nautical Research (UK, 2016) awarded for Jutland 1916: The Archaeology of a Naval Battlefield.
  • D.K. Brown Memorial Lecture of the World Ship Society (UK, 2016)
  • Reg Vallintine Achievement Award of the Historical Diving Society (UK, 2014) awarded for "The "Tin Openers" Myth and Reality".

Selected bibliography[edit]


  1. ^ "Author Innes McCartney on how shipwrecks reveal history on".
  2. ^ "Submariners' Association Boat Database".
  3. ^ "Warships found". DIVER magazine. 29 June 2001. Archived from the original on 10 July 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  4. ^ "Jutland – Clash of the Dreadnoughts".
  5. ^ "The Armoured Cruiser HMS Defence: A Case Study in Assessing the Royal Navy Shipwrecks of the Battle of Jutland 1916 as an Archaeological Resource". International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. 1 March 2012. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Jutland 1916: The Archaeology of a Modern Naval Battle. The Wreck of HMS Invincible, the World's First Battle Cruiser". SKYLLIS, The Journal of the German Society for the Promotion of Underwater Archaeology. 12 January 2012. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Operation Deadlight Expedition phase 1 at".
  8. ^ "Operation Deadlight Expedition phase 2 at".
  9. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boats: UB 65". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine -
  10. ^ "Komet that turned fireball". Divernet – Diver Magazine Online. Archived from the original on 17 October 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  11. ^ History Channel: Deep Wreck Mysteries episode guide
  12. ^ Deep Wreck Mysteries home
  13. ^ "Deep Wreck Mysteries home".
  14. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boats: UA". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine -
  15. ^ "How the Bismark sank HMS Hood".
  16. ^ "The Lost Submarine of WW1".
  17. ^ "The Maritime Archaeology of a Modern Conflict: comparing the archaeology of German submarine wrecks to the historical text".
  18. ^ "The Maritime Archaeology of a Modern Conflict".
  19. ^ Innes McCartney (2016). Jutland 1916: The Archaeology of a Naval Battlefield. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1844864164.
  20. ^ "Jutland: WW1's Greatest Sea Battle".
  21. ^ "Wreck of second world war British submarine found off Denmark". The Guardian.
  22. ^ "Live fra dybet".
  23. ^ "Wreck of German U-boat found off coast of Stranraer".
  24. ^ "German World War One U-boat wreck found off Scottish coast".
  25. ^ Craig Taylor (9 February 2017). "A day that changed The face of Orkney". The Orcadian. Kirkwall.
  26. ^ Innes McCartney (2019). SCAPA 1919: The Archaeology of a Scuttled Fleet. Osprey. ISBN 978-1472828903.
  27. ^ "Echoes from the Deep: Modern reflections on our maritime past".
  28. ^ "Drain the Oceans: S01 E01 Nazi Secrets".
  29. ^ "Drain the Oceans: SO2 E03 Killer U-Boats".

External links[edit]