Thursday, February 10, 2011

HMS Russell - British battleship to Maltese shipwreck


Malta’s unique location in the Mediterranean has made it a strategic and coveted spot for many years. Because of this, military endeavors have played a big part in shaping its history. In addition, because of its nature as a small island nation, Maltese culture and industries have a strong connection to the sea. Due to both of these facts, it is important to have an understanding of some of the naval history related to the island of Malta. There are a number of shipwrecks off the coast, which provide a good starting place for this. The HMS Russell – which is the ship the ICEX team will help investigate – was a British battleship built in 1901 and served in WWI before hitting a mine in 1916 and sinking off the coast of Malta. Because of the deep resting place of the HMS Russell today, no dives to it were attempted until 2003. The ship lies upside down and the stern section is missing, but there is still a lot of history intact on the wreck and presumably much more to discover.

Annotated Bibliography

1. "Duncan Class Battleship." World War 1 Naval History. 1998-2011. Web. 06 Feb. 2011. .

This article gave a good overview of the 5 Duncan class ships and gives dates, figures and specifications on these and how they differed from other ships of that time period. It also gives a brief overview of the service that each of the ships performed in WWI, which is less detailed than some other sources, but provides a good comparison. Given there are a number of other resources which cover some of the specific events in more detail, I thought this source was still helpful at giving that broader perspective.

2. Grech, Herman. "Throwback to WWI: Diving Team to Try and Locate HMS Russell."The Times21 Aug. 2001: 44. Web. 05 Feb. 2011. .

This is a newspaper article from 2001 about the proposed dive that the Starfish Enterprise did to the HMS Russell. I thought it was interesting to hear the story before the dive and what kinds of things they already knew about the wreck and be able to compare that to the information after the dive. One of the other resources I found documented the dive that they talked about in this article, so it provides a good connection. I think this is also a good source to use because the facts are much more likely to be confirmed and accurate (compared to most of the other information on this topic, which is just from various websites). It also shows that this shipwreck was of importance to Britain still to make it into their newspaper.

3. "HMS Russell." Shipwreck Films. 2006. Web. 05 Feb. 2011. .

This source gives a brief background history or the HMS Russell and then goes into much more detail about the first dive (by the Starfish Enterprise team) to capture video and identify the ship. This is very helpful as we will be doing something similar (only with robots instead of divers) so we can compare their methods and results and have an idea of what to expect. There were also helpful details related to this including the visibility in the water at various depths, which is essential to know given our AUV can't dive all the way to where the wreck lies on the bottom. In addition to the written description and some pictures, there are also two videos from their dives to the HMS Russell, which I feel would be good to show to the other ICEX participants (again to get an idea of what to expect and see what almost 100 years underwater has done to such a magnificent battleship).

4. "MaritimeQuest - HMS Russell Message Board." MaritimeQuest. 2009. Web. 08 Feb. 2011. .

This source is actually a message board from the MaritimeQuest – a website dedicated to naval and shipping history. I would normally be skeptical of using such a source since anyone can post whatever they want, true or not. However, one of the members posted several scanned newspaper clippings from the London Times as well as telegrams from the year of the shipwreck which talk about the incident. I think those would be very valuable sources to include as they give a historical perspective and a firsthand look at what people thought about the incident during that time.

5. Rickard J. "HMS Russell." Military History Encyclopedia on the Web. 5 Nov. 2007. Web. 06 Feb. 2011. .

This source is very helpful in giving a more detailed history of the HMS Russell’s service during WWI before being sunk 1916. It also gives a nice, quick overview of the ship and it’s specifications in a table laid out at the end of the article. However, it is missing much in the way of history from when it was first built in 1901 and when it served in 1914. It also doesn’t say much about the actual wreck or what happened that made it sink near Malta. Given most of that information is readily available in other sources though, I think that is a valuable resource to include to get the WWI time period (prior to the sinking of it) covered.

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