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Protecting England’s Wreck Sites: Site Security Protocols Launched

UK DTA Team

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The security of heritage assets is of the utmost importance; a monetary value cannot be attached to the significance of a site or its associated artefacts. This statement is true for both on land and underwater sites.

The policing of underwater sites however, is often a trickier affair, with out-of-sight often equalling out-of-mind. Unfortunately, a site’s underwater location does not stop thieves from stealing or damaging artefacts.

To aid in the protection of our underwater cultural heritage, a selection of sites of historical, artistic and archaeological importance have been protected by law under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973 (https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/what-is-designation/protected-wreck-sites/). Historic England manage these sites on behalf of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, Digital and Sport (DCMS), and a team of Licensees, effectively voluntary custodians, play a key role in their ongoing management.

The licensees work tirelessly on the wrecks and have had a special relationship with them since the very first days of the Protection of Wrecks Act. If it wasn’t for them, many of the sites would still be unknown and we would have very little knowledge of many of the existing sites. Their presence on the sites acts as a deterrent to anyone thinking of accessing the sites illegally and their monitoring ensures that the sites are understood and enjoyed by many people.

To further aid in the physical protection of these significant sites, Historic England funded a partnership project between the Protected Wreck Association (PWA https://protectedwrecks.org.uk/) and MSDS Marine (https://msdsmarine.com/). This national-level project has seen the development of Site Security Plans for protected wreck sites. The model developed is based on the highly successful model developed by Ron Howell and the SWMAG team who are Licensees for the Salcombe Cannon and Moor Sands protected wreck sites.

A Site Security Plan is the end result of a process which assesses how secure a site is from illegal access. By completing two very easy to use but highly specialised forms, the site is given:

  • Its own Site Security Champion
  • Its own Heritage Crime Officer in the Police
  • A level of risk of heritage crime occurring to enable appropriate response to be put in place and to allow targeting of resources
  • Quick win opportunities to decrease its level of risk
  • A protocol for the licensees to follow every time they access the site
  • Specialist guidelines to enable crime reporting to enforcement authorities
  • A toolkit consisting of: A High Vis vest, to help identify the Site Security Champion to the public / authorities and pocket-sized card, summarising guidance on reporting crimes.

The project team will be supporting Licensees and their teams in completing a Site Security Plan and Risk Assessment for each Protected Wreck Site. MSDS Marine will be contacting Licensees inviting them to book a slot to work through the process. Individual Licensees and teams can also follow the guidance to complete the documents on their own with MSDS Marine on hand to support as required.

The Site Security Forms are accessible on the Protected Wreck Association website, in the members only area https://protectedwrecks.org.uk/members-area/site-security/ . If you are not a member and would like to join, this is an excellent time, as its free!

Assessing the security of a wreck site will inform Historic England of any sites which are at a high risk of heritage crime, and aid them in the future management of these sites. It will assist Licensees in highlighting areas for concern and in turn offer positive actions that can be taken to reduce the threat. It is hoped that the scheme will help put practical measures in place to ensure that the sites are protected from illegal activity in future.

Alison James, Project Manager at MSDS Marine said: “I spent ten years working at Historic England managing England’s protected wreck sites and at times was incredibly frustrated by being unable to ‘police’ the sites. The model we have developed is based on the highly successful model developed by SWMAG which has been shown to work on a number of occasions. We hope this will make a real difference to the sites and the teams that work on them.”

Professor Mike Williams, Chair of the Protected Wreck Association said: “We are delighted and grateful that Historic England has funded this project. It will enable us to undertake valuable work to support our members, who are dedicated volunteers protecting our maritime heritage.”

Hefin Meara, Marine Archaeologist at Historic England said: “We are pleased to support this important project and recognise the enormous contribution that licensed volunteer divers are making to help protect England’s fascinating marine historic environment.”

For more information please visit www.ProtectedWrecks.org.uk www.MSDSMarine.co.uk, and www.historicengland.org.uk.

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New North Wales dive boat for 2023 season

UK DTA Team

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Duttons Divers, the North Wales based Scuba diving company, have been going from strength to strength with the expansion of a new dive centre last year, and now the addition of a second dive boat.

Duttons already offer guided shore and boat dives around the North Wales area, with their current dive boat, Little Viv, taking divers around the Llyn Peninsula. The area offers an array of marine life and variety of dive sites, including wrecks, caverns, scenic wall dives and of course their colony of curious seals at the Tudwals Islands.

The new hard boat has a diver capacity of 10, which can be booked as a single diver or as a group charter booking. The boat has toilet facilities, a kitchen for refreshments between dives and dedicated storage areas for kit.

Clare Dutton says: “We are extremely excited for the addition of the new boat. Little Viv is a great asset to our activities, but now being able to offer dive space only trips too for divers to explore the stunning area around here will make it even better.

The dive sites within this location offer something for all level of diver interest, from shallow interactions with the seals to deeper wrecks with tonnes of history. We are all very excited for the 2023 season!”

Duttons are now taking bookings for the 2023 season. Follow the link for more information: www.duttonsdivers.com/dive-boat

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Palaemon Divers to open new dive centre in Warrington

UK DTA Team

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Hugely popular scuba dive centre in the North West, Palaemon Divers have expanded and are opening their second dive centre, this time in Warrington!

Spreading across two floors, the new dive centre will become the only scuba centre in Warrington, with an in house compressor to provide air fills to both members and the public, classroom, workshop and fully stocked retail scuba floor.

With the new site opening, also comes a second pool night for those new to the sport and experienced divers to jump in and try it out or practice skills. With a pool night already on a Wednesday in Speke, and the second pool night starting on a Tuesday in the Warrington area it will allow easy access to training nights.

The existing 5 Star PADI dive centre in Liverpool offers training and scuba experiences within the dock itself along with a scuba club in which the divers take monthly litter pick dips and regular trips around the UK and abroad, and try dive experiences available for beginners all the way through to professional level courses.

After opening the site in Princes Dock in January 2022, the site has trained and introduced 100s of new divers from Merseyside to the sport, ran regular scuba kids clubs (aged 8+) in the pool and the Docks and numerous team building exercises for companies in and around Merseyside and is looking to introduce Warrington to the same!

Director Leanne Clowes said:

“We are really excited to open our second dive centre after the huge success of our Princes Dock site in Liverpool, and can not wait to introduce the Warrington community to the amazing sport that is scuba diving!

We have been looking for a while where our second site would open, and we have had are minds set on Warrington the entire time so really happy to find our perfect second centre at Evans House Business Centre, Norman Street WA2 in a previously converted micro brewery site!

Palaemon Divers Warrington will be open fully from January 2023, however we are available now to get in touch with for queries regarding courses starting in the new year. For further information on our open day please check out our socials!”

David (Director of Evans House Business Centre) says:

“We can’t wait to have Palaemon Divers on board, they will be joining an impressive number diverse companies that call Evans House Business Centre their base from an Escape Room, to specialist fitness suites, craft workshops and a number of trades. Evans House Business Centre really is an excellent facility to visit!”

Whether you have always wanted to see what scuba is like or you are a certified diver looking to join in all over the UK and abroad on sociable dive trips – get in touch, Palaemon Divers would love to have a chat!

To contact the Palaemon Divers team or find out more:

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