WWI warships on the Orkney seabed for sale on eBay for at £1 million

Wrecks of four warships that have rusted on the Orkney seabed since the First World War are put up for sale on eBay for nearly £1 million

  • Four WWI warships from the German Imperial Navy on the Orkney seabed are for sale on eBay for £1million
  • The sale includes three dreadnought ships at £250,000 each, alongside one cruiser for £60,000
  • Current owner Thomas Clark, 70, purchased the scuttled fleet back in 1981 for an undisclosed sum
  • Each boat is a Scheduled Monument according to the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Areas Act 1979

The wrecks of four warships from the First World War that have been lying on the Orkney seabed, in Scotland, since have been put up for sale on eBay – for nearly £1 million.

The rusting relics are being sold on eBay by retired diving contractor Thomas Clark, 70, who bought them in 1981 for an undisclosed sum.

Dreadnoughts SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm, SMS Konig and SMS Markgraf, are on the market for £250,000 each, alongside the cruiser SMS Karlsruhe, which is selling for £60,000.

Four war vessels at the bottom of the Orkney seabed, in Scotland, have been put up for sale on eBay – for nearly £1 million (pictured: diver at SMS Marfgraf)

The eBay ad boasts that if the new owner bought all four wrecks they would ‘have a sizeable naval fleet amongst the largest in the world’. 

The ships were part of the German High Seas Fleet of the German Imperial Navy, which was famously scuttled at Scapa Flow, Stromness, in 1919.

While interned at the site in the Orkney Islands, the ships were disarmed and reduced to skeleton crews while the allied powers finalised the Treaty of Versailles.

Dreadnoughts SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm, SMS Konig and SMS Markgraf, are on the market for £250,000 each, alongside the cruiser SMS Karlsruhe, which is selling for £60,000 (pictured: divers exploring SMS Karlsruhe)

The rusting relics are being sold on eBay by retired diving contractor Thomas Clark, 70, who bought them in 1981 (pictured a top on tap on the SMS Karlsruhe surrounded by sea life)

The eBay ad for the ships boasts that if the new owner bought all four wrecks they would ‘have a sizeable naval fleet amongst the largest in the world’ (diver exploring the wreckage of SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm)

The ships were part of the German High Seas Fleet of the German Imperial Navy and famously scuttled at Scapa Flow, Stromness, in 1919 (a diver at the bow of the SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm)

Prospective buyers now have the chance to buy some of the historical vessels, which are protected as official scheduled monuments (Divers exploring SMS Kronprinz)

The ships scuttling was carried out on June 21, 1919 on the orders of Admiral Ludwig von Reuter to prevent allied forces seizing the ships after Germany’s defeat in the conflict, and 52 of the 74 vessels sank.

Many of the wrecks were salvaged over the next two decades and towed away for scrapping, but the seven that remain today have become popular with divers.

Prospective buyers now have the chance to buy some of the historical vessels, which are protected as official scheduled monuments.

Currently recreational divers are allowed to access the waterspace around the wrecks, but are not permitted to touch, enter or to go within one metre of them (divers at SMS Kronprinz)

Current owner Mr Clark, of Tayside, hopes the ships will be taken on by someone with a vision for their future (SMS Konig’s rusty porthole)

Mr Clarke said: ‘It has been an absolute pleasure to own and dive on these iconic vessels and I regret I have not managed to do more with them during the period of my ownership (divers at the site of SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm)

‘I look forward to passing them on to the new owner and hope they get the opportunity to realise their aspirations for the vessels,’ Mr Clarke added (pictured SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm)

The selling agent has described the unusual offering as ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity’ for a new owner able to tap into the tourist market SMS Kalrushe

New owners would have the right to dive on the ships, including touching and entering, and would also be able to reclaim items from within – subject to gaining the necessary permissions from the heritage body Historic Environment Scotland (SMS Konig)

Battleship SMS Markgraf is the most well preserved of the remaining scuttled fleet and lies at a depth of 45 metres, listed for sale on eBay at a price of £250,000 for ‘Buy it Now’.

Each boat is a Scheduled Monument according to the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Areas Act 1979 and there is currently a desire to include them in a Historic Marine Protected Area, according to the eBay listing (bow view of SMS Konig)

Current owner Mr Clark, of Tayside, hopes the ships will be taken on by someone with a vision for their future. 

He said: ‘It has been an absolute pleasure to own and dive on these iconic vessels and I regret I have not managed to do more with them during the period of my ownership.

‘I look forward to passing them on to the new owner and hope they get the opportunity to realise their aspirations for the vessels.’

He purchased SMS Markgraf with the intention of carrying out commercial salvage but the protection of the wrecks as scheduled monuments prevented him from doing this, according to the online auction site.

The selling agent has described the unusual offering as ‘a once in a lifetime opportunity’ for a new owner able to tap into the tourist market.

Currently recreational divers are allowed to access the waterspace around the wrecks, but are not permitted to touch, enter or to go within one metre of them.

New owners would have the right to dive on the ships, including touching and entering, and would also be able to reclaim items from within – subject to gaining the necessary permissions from the heritage body Historic Environment Scotland. 

Dreadnought SMS Markgraf (pictured) is on the market for £250,000

Deadnought SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm (pictured) is also on sale for £250,000

Alongside the deadnoughts is Cruiser SMS Karlsruhe, on the market for £60,000

Each boat is a Scheduled Monument according to the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Areas Act 1979 and there is currently a desire to include them in a Historic Marine Protected Area, according to the eBay listing. 

It is unlikely commercial salvage would be permitted, according to the selling agent.  

And any sale would also require consent from the Ministry of Defence.

The listing suggests there could be opportunities to generate revenue through tourism or recovery of materials from the wrecks, but warns that potential buyers should satisfy themselves of these possibilities.

The total purchase price would be just under £810,000, including VAT.

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