Innes McCartney

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Innes McCartney
I McCartney.jpg
Born24 March 1964 (1964-03-24) (age 57)
OccupationNautical archaeologist, historian

Innes McCartney (born 1964) is a British nautical archaeologist and historian and a Research Fellow at Bournemouth University.


McCartney is a nautical archaeologist specialising in the interaction of shipwreck archaeology with the historical record.[1]

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

In 2001, he discovered the wreck of HMS Indefatigable, sunk at the Battle of Jutland.[3] In the same year he led expeditions to identify some of the U-boats sunk during Operation Deadlight. Fourteen U-boats were surveyed and several new sites discovered.[4][5]

In 2003 he identified the mystery World War I U-boat off Trevose Head, Cornwall as UB-65[6] 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. This featured in the Channel 4 series Wreck Detectives.

In 2006 he featured in the documentary "U-boat Death-Trap" which followed 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.[7] 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 off the Scilly Isles.[8][9][10]

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".[11]

2014 saw publication of "The Maritime Archaeology of a Modern Conflict: Comparing the archaeology of German submarine wrecks to the historical text".[12] 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 2015 and 2016 McCartney worked as archaeological advisor to the Sea War Museum Jutland on detailed archaeological shipwreck surveys to locate all of the heretofore undiscovered wrecks of the Battle of Jutland. This was published in "Jutland 1916: The Archaeology of a Naval Battlefield" [13] for which he was awarded the 2016 Anderson Medal by the Society for Nautical Research.

The British submarine HMS Tarpon was also located during the North Sea surveys in 2016.[14]

In 2016 he helped Scottish Power identify 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.[15] 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.[16]

In 2017 he assisted the Sea War Museum Jutland, in a detailed survey of the Scapa Flow naval anchorages.[17] The results were published in May 2019 in "SCAPA 1919: The Archaeology of a Scuttled Fleet".[18]

In May 2020 it was announced that the wreck of the landing craft LCT 326 had been found off Bardsey Island during surveys by Bangor University, in collaboration with McCartney. The wreck is located over 100 nautical miles from its supposed loss position.[19][20][21] In September 2021 as part of the same project, it was announced that the minesweeper HMS Mercury had been found in the Irish Sea. It sank in 1940 during sweeping operations.[22]


  • The Anderson Medal of the Society for Nautical Research (UK, 2016) awarded for McCartney, Innes (19 May 2016). Jutland 1916: The Archaeology of a Naval Battlefield. ISBN 9781844864171.
  • 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". Archived from the original on 26 May 2012. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  3. ^ "Warships found". DIVER magazine. 29 June 2001. Archived from the original on 10 July 2011. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  4. ^ "Operation Deadlight Expedition phase 1 at".
  5. ^ "Operation Deadlight Expedition phase 2 at".
  6. ^ Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boats: UB 65". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine -
  7. ^ "Komet that turned fireball". Divernet – Diver Magazine Online. Archived from the original on 17 October 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  8. ^ History Channel: Deep Wreck Mysteries episode guide
  9. ^ "Deep Wreck Mysteries home". Archived from the original on 21 December 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  10. ^ "Deep Wreck Mysteries home". Archived from the original on 21 December 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  11. ^ "How the Bismark sank HMS Hood".
  12. ^ "The Maritime Archaeology of a Modern Conflict". doi:10.1111/1095-9270.12219. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ Innes McCartney (2016). Jutland 1916: The Archaeology of a Naval Battlefield. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1844864164.
  14. ^ "Wreck of second world war British submarine found off Denmark". The Guardian.
  15. ^ "Wreck of German U-boat found off coast of Stranraer".
  16. ^ "German World War One U-boat wreck found off Scottish coast".
  17. ^ Craig Taylor (9 February 2017). "A day that changed The face of Orkney". The Orcadian. Kirkwall.
  18. ^ Innes McCartney (2019). SCAPA 1919: The Archaeology of a Scuttled Fleet. Osprey. ISBN 978-1472828903.
  19. ^ "Wreck of second world war landing craft found off Wales after 77 years". The Guardian.
  20. ^ "World War Two mystery solved after Wales wreck discovery". BBC Wales.
  21. ^ "Discovery of a WW2 Landing Craft off Wales ends 77 year old mystery". Bangor University.
  22. ^ "Discovery of the minesweeper HMS MERCURY". Bangor University.