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British D-Day Shipwreck Discovered By Divers Off Portsmouth

By MarEx 2011-09-19 16:05:44

Divers from Southsea Sub-Aqua Club have located the “missing” British ship, LCT 427, which sank returning from D-Day duties, BBC reports.

The ship was discovered only four miles offshore from the coast and 100-feet from the water’s surface during the Club’s recent diving survey and historical research project taking place in the Solent area.  The divers found the ship split into two pieces, laying several hundreds of meters apart on the seafloor, just under guise of the busy shipping channel.  It is quite lucky that the Club had accessed the area, as it is normally out of bounds for diving, only being allowed to dive there due to special permission by Portsmouth Harbour Master.  The restrictive nature of the area is probably why it has taken so long for the wreck to be identified.

PHOTO CAPTION: WWII LCT being loaded onto an LST. (U.S. National Archives photo)

On June 7th 1944, the LCT 427 had been returning home to Portsmouth after having successfully delivered cargo of tanks to Sword Beach in Normandy in the final days of WWII.  The project leader of the Southsea Sub-Aqua Club, Alison Mayor, told BBC that the story is beyond tragic since the crew had made the crossing to France, and even survived enemy engagement, successfully completed their task, only to be lost on their return journey, and sink in result from a collision with a fellow British ship where all crewmembers faced their death only miles from home.  Mayor said that due to the sheer magnitude of the Normandy invasion, this incident had been unreported for months and thereby deemed as a “missing” ship.

The wreckage of the estimated 192-ft long LCT 427 was found in excellent condition, where anti-aircraft guns and ammunition boxes were still intact.  Also reported was a large capstan at the stern and the landing craft door swung wide open at the bow section.

Mayor went on to explain that there are many WWII wrecks along the south coast, many of which remain unidentifiable.