Innes McCartney

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Dr. Innes McCartney
I McCartney.jpg
Born 24 March 1964
Nationality British
Education Keele, Exeter and Bournemouth Universities
Occupation Nautical archaeologist, explorer, historian, author
Known for Discovery of historic shipwrecks, archaeology of modern shipwrecks
Website page

Dr. Innes J. McCartney (born 24 March 1964) is a British nautical archaeologist, explorer, historian and author and currently an Honorary Research Fellow at Bournemouth University.


McCartney is a nautical archaeologist who over the last 25 years has specialised in the discovery of and investigation into twentieth century shipwrecks including the wrecks of the Battle of Jutland and many British and German submarines. He has appeared regularly on documentaries such as Time Team Special and is a popular speaker at conferences.[1] A key element of his work is the interaction between the archaeology and historical accounts of shipwrecks and how the differences which arise often challenge the historical record.[2]

In 1989 he became involved in shipwreck archaeology when he learned to dive. By 1994 he was one of Britain's first Trimix-certified scuba divers and 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[3][4] off Start Point in the English Channel.

In 2001 he discovered the wreck of HMS Indefatigable[5] sunk at the Battle of Jutland and in 2003 co-produced the Channel 4 documentary "Clash of the Dreadnoughts"[6] which examined all of the larger wrecks, including detailed surveys of HMS Defence[7] and HMS Invincible[8]

In 2001-2 McCartney led two expeditions to locate and identify some of the U-boats sunk during Operation Deadlight. Fourteen U-boats were surveyed and several new sites were discovered[9][10] including the rare Type XXI U-boat, U2506,[11] once under the command of Horst von Schroeter and the successful Type IXC U-boat, U155[12] 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[13] 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 scavenge parts from them.

In 2006 McCartney featured in the award-winning Deep Wreck Mysteries episode, "U-boat Death-Trap" which depicted the search by McCartney for the identity of three mystery U-boats of the north coast of Cornwall. In the same year he discovered the German auxiliary raider HSK Komet in the English Channel after a long search[14][15] and returned the following year to survey both halves of the wreck. 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[16][17] off the Scilly Isles as part of the Deep Wreck Mysteries[18] 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[19] 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.[20]

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 are the subject of the Channel Four documentary "How the Bismark sank HMS Hood".[21]

In 2013 McCartney featured as the lead contributor on a Time Team Special entitled "The Lost Submarine of WW1".[22] This film examines the pioneering submarines of The First World War. He also positively identified the remains of the WW1 U-boat wrecks SM UC-72[23] and SM UB-114[24] in the waters of the English Channel.

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". 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.[25]

In November 2014 research into Admiralty diving on sunken U-boats in 1918 won McCartney the Reg Vallintine Achievement Award for Historical Diving.[26]

In 2015 and 2016 McCartney worked as archaeological advisor to JD-Contractor (Denmarks leading underwater contractor) on a groundbreaking survey utilising swath bathymetry (multibeam) off the west coast of Denmark which located and recorded numerous shipwrecks, including all of the heretofore undiscovered wrecks of the Battle of Jutland lost off Denmark. The surveys, alongside his earlier explorations at Jutland is the focus of his latest book and a television documentary, both being released in May 2016. Among the other sites uncovered was the wreck of the British submarine HMS Tarpon (N17).[27]


  • Desmond Wettern British Maritime Foundation Film and Documentary Award (UK, 2006)
  • Reg Vallintine Achievement Award for Historical Diving (UK, 2014)
  • Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award 2015 - Runner Up (UK, 2015)
  • D.K. Brown Memorial Lecture (UK, 2016)

Selected Bibliography[edit]


  1. ^ "List of conference appearances on". 
  2. ^ "Author Innes McCartney on how shipwrecks reveal history on". 
  3. ^ "Submariners' Association Boat Database". 
  4. ^ "HMS M1 Discovery and Investigation". 
  5. ^ "Warships found". DIVER magazine. 29 June 2001. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Jutland – Clash of the Dreadnoughts". 
  7. ^ "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. 
  8. ^ "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. 
  9. ^ "Operation Deadlight Expedition phase 1 at". 
  10. ^ "Operation Deadlight Expedition phase 2 at". 
  11. ^ "The Discovery of U2506". 
  12. ^ "The Discovery of U155". 
  13. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boats: UB 65". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - 
  14. ^ "Komet that turned fireball". Divernet – Diver Magazine Online. Retrieved 14 December 2011. 
  15. ^ "HSK Komet Discovery and Investigation". 
  16. ^ History Channel: Deep Wreck Mysteries episode guide
  17. ^ Deep Wreck Mysteries home
  18. ^ "Deep Wreck Mysteries home". 
  19. ^ "The Unique "UA" of the Kaiserliche Marine". 
  20. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boats: UA". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - 
  21. ^ "How the Bismark sank HMS Hood". 
  22. ^ "The Lost Submarine of WW1". 
  23. ^ "The Identification of UC72". 
  24. ^ "The Identification of UB114". 
  25. ^ "The Maritime Archaeology of a Modern Conflict". 
  26. ^ "The "Tin Openers" Myth and Reality". 
  27. ^ Usædvanligt fund af ubåd fra anden verdenskrig fundet i dansk farvand, Jyllandsposten, 17 Marts 2016

External links[edit]