Isle of Wight's sunken World War II tanks studied

The tanks have been preserved on the seabed for more than 60 years

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Maritime archaeologists have investigated ways for World War II tanks at the bottom of the sea near the Isle of Wight to be protected.

The tanks and other equipment were being carried on a landing craft which capsized and lost its cargo as it was heading for the D-Day landings in 1944.

They sit on the seabed between the east of the island and Selsey, West Sussex.

Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology is looking at how land legislation can be applied to the sea.

The project has been funded by English Heritage.

Shot to sink

The charity is working together with Southsea Sub-Aqua Club, which discovered the crafts in 2008, to investigate and chart the site.

Victoria Millership, from the trust, said it was not just ancient wrecks such as the Mary Rose that should be protected.

"The nature of seawater and the underwater environment preserves a lot more material than is often available on land and the things that are under water are often in a better state of preservation."

The Mark V landing craft tank (LCT) 2428 set off for Normandy on the evening of 5 June 1944 but developed engine trouble in the Channel and was taken under tow by the rescue tug HMS Jaunty.

On its way back to Portsmouth the landing craft capsized and lost its cargo.

HMS Jaunty fired upon the upturned hull until it sank to make sure it did not cause an obstruction. None of the crew were lost.

Better protection

The vessel was carrying two Centaur CS IV tanks, two armoured bulldozers designed to destroy any anti-tank devices on the beach, a jeep and other military equipment for the Royal Marines armoured support group.

The lost cargo and the sunken craft created two sites on the seabed 20m (66ft) below the surface.

The hull was later located about 6km (3.7 miles) to the east of the vehicle site. Both vessels have been preserved on the sea-floor for more than 60 years.

Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology hopes the project and case study will lead to better protection for underwater archaeology around England, specifically shipwrecks.

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