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Scapa Flow, Scotland

Scapa Flow has been used as a safe harbour since the days of the Vikings, as it is a natural harbour, providing ships shelter from the worst weather. This was the case during the World wars, as the British naval ships were brought here to be kept safe from German uboats and aerial attacks. 

The incredible diversity of wrecks, along with the amazing stories that they hold, make Scapa Flow in northern Scotland a world-renowned location for those interested in maritime history and wreck exploration.

The area around Orkney has a unique underwater environment, from huge battleships resting in the heart of Scapa Flow, to smaller blockships dotted along the rugged coastline.

During the 1920's and 30's the majority of the scuttled ships of the German High Seas Fleet were raised. It was one of the largest maritime salvage operations in history. Of the 52 ships that sank, only 7 remain beneath the waters of Scapa Flow.

In recognition of their historical and cultural importance, the wrecks of the Cöln, Dresden, Brummer, Karlsruhe, Kronprinz Wilhelm, König and Markgraf have been protected as monuments. Divers are welcome to explore these wrecks but removal of artifacts from them is illegal. Two British ships, the HMS Royal Oak and the HMS Vanguard, both sunk during the World Wars, have become official war graves as 1600 souls were lost onboard. 

Scapa Flow travel information

  • Time: +1 GMT 
  • Currency: British pound (GBP)
  • Language: English, Gaelic, Scots
  • Water: The tapwater is safe to drink.
  • Visa: Not needed for EU citizens
  • Health: Contact your local medical clinic for advice.
  • Recompression chamber: There is a chamber located in Stromness
  • Country code: +44
  • Electricity: Standard 240V, British style sockets

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