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Exploring a First World War-era shipwreck off Malta

Description

This exclusive underwater footage shows divers heading under the waves to explore a shipwreck off Malta that dates back to the First World War.

HMS Russell was a Duncan class battleship built for the Royal Navy in Jarrow on the River Tyne in 1901. With a speed of 19 knots, she was one of the fastest warships of her time. The ship was named after Admiral Edward Russell, the 1st Earl of Orford, a former Commander-in-Chief of the Navy in the 17th century.

On 27 April 1916 she was sailing off Malta when she struck two mines laid by a German U-boat. Most of her crew survived the sinking, though 125 men were killed. The wreck was only found in 2003.

HMS Russell is located approximately 6km east of Fort St Elmo at a depth of about 115 metres. The wreck itself is around 132 metres in length and lies completely upside down on sandy seabed. Her stern was blown off by a mine.

The area is littered with gun cases, and some guns can be seen on the sand. The wreck of HMS Russell was opened for diving in May 2019 together with seven other First and Second World War wrecks which are managed by Heritage Malta.

Diving the HMS Russell wreck requires a special permit. There are two other First World War wrecks nearby. HMS Nasturtium and HMY Aegusa sank in the same minefield on the same tragic day as HMS Russell.

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