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Sms Markgraf: Cava Sound, Scapa Flow, Orkney

Battleship (20th Century)

Site Name Sms Markgraf: Cava Sound, Scapa Flow, Orkney

Classification Battleship (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Holm Of Houton; Calf Of Cava; Barrel Of Butter; Point Of Tuberry; Markgraf

Canmore ID 102310

Site Number HY30SW 8007

NGR HY 32857 01019

Datum WGS84 - Lat/Long


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish Maritime - Orkney
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Maritime
  • Former County Not Applicable

Archaeology Notes

HY30SW 8007 3285 0105

N58 53.5167 W3 9.9167

NLO: Holm of Houton [name: HY 315 029]

Calf of Cava [name: HY 322 006]

Cava [name: ND 327 995]

Barrel of Butter [name: HY 352 009]

Point of Tuberry (Cava) [name: HY 334 993]

Stromness [name: HY 253 090]

Scapa Flow [name centred HY 36 00].

For other ships within this group, see:

HY30SW 8002 Dresden (cruiser)

HY30SW 8004 Konig (battleship)

HY30SW 8008 Kronprinz Wilhelm (battleship)

HY30SW 8009 Brummer (cruiser)

HY30SW 8010 Koln (cruiser)

HY30SW 8011 Grosser Kurfurst (battleship)

HY30SW 8012 Friedrich der Grosse (battleship)

HY30SW 8014 Bayern (battleship)

HY30SE 8003 Frankfurt (cruiser: secondary location)

HY30SE 8004 Emden (cruiser: secondary location)

HY30SE 8005 Bremse (cruiser: secondary location)

Formerly entered as Site no. 8851.

For general plans of High Seas Fleet (Internment Formation) wrecks in Scapa Flow, see Van der Vat 1986 (endpapers), Smith 1989, 4, Macdonald 1998, 19 and George 1999, 35.

MARKGRAF. The wreck lies in 43 metres of water and rises 18 metres from the seabed. She is upside down and the bottom has been blasted open.

[Bearings on surrounding objects, for use in locating her, are illustrated in the source].

Source: Butland and Siedlecki, BSAC Wreck Register, Scotland 1 1987.

Remains at Scapa Flow.

P L Smith 1989.

Horizontal Datum = OGB

General water depth = 45

Orientation of keel/wreck = 080/260

Circumstances of Loss Details


The German cruiser MARKGRAF was scuttled in Scapa Flow.

Surveying Details


1919. A dangerous wreck, with the least depth of 20.1 metres, is reported at 58 53 31N, 003 09 55W.

8 April 1936. The wreck has been sold to Metal Industries Ltd.

15 June 1976. Salvage operations have commenced at 58 53 31N, 003 09 50W approximately.

Report by Orkney Islands Council, Notice to Mariners 3/76 and Temporary Notice to Mariner's 1218/76.

8 November 1977. Salvage opertions continue.

Report by Orkney Island Council 24 October 1977.

20 August 1979. The wreck is to be salvaged by Undersea Associates Ltd.

Source; Lloyd's List, 15 August 1979.

31 January 1980. Salvage operations have been completed.

Report by Orkney Island Council, Notice to Mariners 1/80.

25 February 1980. The salvage company is in the hands of the receiver. A minimal quantity of material has been raised. It is assumed that no change has been made in the charted depth.

Report by Orkney Island Council, 11 February 1980.

20 October 1981. The salvage rights have been sold to Clark Diving Services.

9 September 1982. The vessel lies upside down in general depths of 45-50 metres. The bottom has been blasted open. Fix from compass bearings: Cava light 242 degrees [magnetic], Barrel of Butter 102 degrees [magnetic], Building (conspicuous) 007 degrees [magnetic].

Report by R Good, 13 August 1982.

Hydrographic Office, 1995.

(Classified as battleship: date of loss cited as 21 June 1919). [SMS} Markgraf: this vessel was scuttled 0.5 mile NE of Cava.

Registration: German. 25388 tons displacement. Length: 174m. Beam: 29m.

(Location of loss cited as N58 53.55 W3 9.90).

I G Whittaker 1998.

Linescan survey carried out by I Oxley, September 1999.

NMRS, MS/829/23.

In July 2000 a side scan sonar survey of the area of Scapa Flow in which the seven wrecks are situated was carried out in conjunction with a bathymetric and seabed classification survey using Echoplous equipment. In addition, detailed sonar images were obtained and geo-referenced so that exact co-ordinates of the extreme ends of each wreck structure could be obtained.

ADU, MS/5450.

Scheduled with SMS Konig (HY30SW 8004) and SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm (HY30SW 8008).

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 23 March 2001.

Material reported under RoW amnesty (2001):

A819 engine room telegraph: from seabed.

NMRS, MS/829/34.

Material reported under RoW amnesty (2001):

A3686 1 gauge: from seabed

A3775 1 table lamp: from seabed

A3816 1 radio mast aerial isolator and metal bracket: from seabed.

NMRS, MS/829/35.

Material reported under RoW amnesty (2001):

A4511 Deckhead cage lamp and cover, and German Imperial Navy nameplate [in] brass.

NMRS, MS/829/77.

Length over all: 583ft (177.7m)

Length waterline: 576ft (175.7m)

Beam (extreme): 100ft (30.5m)

Beam (waterline): 97ft (29.5m)

Draught (normal condition): 27ft (8.3m)

Draught (deep load): 30ft (9.3m)

Displacement (standard): 25,797 t

Displacement (full load): 29,669 t

Propulsion: 15 x Schultz-Thorneycroft 3-drum superheated boilers (12 coal, 3 oil: 235 psi wp); 3 x triple-stage Parsons turbines (built by Brown Boveri); direct drive to three shafts; 31,000/35,000 shp nominal; 21/23 kts maximum. (A proposal to fit a diesel engine to the centre shaft was apparently made but abandoned)

Fuel: 3597t coal; 700t oil

Range: 4600nm (8500km) at 19 kts

Armament: 10 x 30.5cm (12ins: 50 cal: twin turrets); 14 x 15cm (5.9ins: 45 cal: single mountings); 6 x 8.8cm (3.5ins: 45 cal: single mountings); 2 x 8.8cm AA (3.5ins: 45 cal: single mountings); 5 x 50cm (19.7ins) torpedo tubes

Armour: Krupp cemented nickel alloy steel (of low carbon, but surface heat treated); lower belt 350mm max; deck 120mm max; turrets 300mm max; conning tower 350mm max

Complement: 1033.

SMS Markgraf was the third ship completed of the four-strong Konig or Koenig class, the fourth class of German Dreadnought battleship, but was built without the Flag accommodation (aft of the bridge) found on other units of the class. The Konig class were built as a counter to the first of the British super-dreadnoughts and were, similarly, designed so as to place all their main armament on the centreline. Nine boiler-rooms were provided (as against six in the corresponding British Orion class) and the belt armour on the Konigs was 13.75ins thick as against 12ins on the Orions; the German ships also had an additional torpedo bulkhead within the hull while 16 watertight bulkheads defined 17 compartments. By contrast, however, the German ships were lighter-gunned, having a main armament of ten 12-inch guns with a range of 20,500 yds (18,750m) as against the Orions' ten 13.5-inch, which had a range of 23,100 yds (21,100m). In accordance with German practice, the Konigs were fuelled by both coal and oil, the former being predominant. Their cost of about 43 million Marks (equivalent to #2.5M at 1914 prices) was considerably more than the British equivalent (c. #1.8M) reflecting the cost of increased armour plate and further subdivision. Such costs were a financial embarrassment to Germany. The Konigs were the first German capital ships to have Parsons turbines built by Brown Boveri, and were known as good seakeeping vessels, with a slow but gentle heel, even under rudder.

Markgraf was included in the 1911 Naval Estimates of the Reichstag, built at the Weser Dockyard, Bremen, and launched on 4 June 1913. She joined the Third Battle Squadron of the High Seas Fleet a year later. The ship received significant alterations during the war (mainly in her refit of October 1916); the anti-torpedo nets were removed and a heavy tubular foremast was fitted in place of the original slender pole. The six 86mm (3.4in) guns originally fitted below the bridge were removed at the same time, and the space used for extra accommodation, two further 86mm (3.4in) AA guns being fitted on the aft superstructure.

Markgraf fought at the Battle of Jutland (May 1916), where she suffered minor shell damage, and also took part in later abortive sorties. On 18 October 1918 her crew mutinied as the High Seas Fleet assembled in Schillig Roads for what was thought to be a final sortie against the Grand Fleet. She surrendered in the hands of a particularly strong faction of revolutionaries.

When scuttled, the ship dipped her bows beneath the water while rolling to port. She was the last battleship to sink, and lies inverted with her superstructure driven into the seabed. The wreck is regularly visited by recreational divers, and is fully described in various diving guides. Salvage work has left large holes (notably aft) while massive slabs of belt armour lean against the hull or lie on the seabed. Identifiable features and fittings include the forward spotting top, the twin rudders and the propeller shafts, but not the propellers.

The wreck lies 0.4nm NE of Calf of Cava light and is charted (Wk) and has a clearance of 19.8m above a seabed at a depth of about 35m (shelving to the S and W). The nature of the seabed is not indicated locally but is evidently of varied composition.

This ship may be considered as falling within the Cava Sound group of heavy ships and cruisers, which were scuttled within the area defined by Holm of Houton [name: HY 315 029], Calf of Cava [name: HY 322 006], Barrel of Butter [name: HY 352 009] and Point of Tuberry (Cava) [name: HY 334 993]. Cava Sound (which is not noted as such on the chart) may be understood as a relatively deep eastwards extension of Hoy Sound, leading into the broad expanse of Scapa Flow. It has a generally flat bottom at a charted depth of between 30 and 45m; the seabed type is defined sparingly but is apparently of sand and stones.

Apart from the specifically-indicated wrecks, an extensive area of foul ground and numerous obstructions and wrecks attest to the former presence of the High Seas Fleet. The former is situated around N58 53.85 W3 11 [HY 31 01], while the latter form a broad band extending from E to W between about N58 53.8 W3 8.4 [HY 34 01] and N58 53.9 W3 10.8 [HY 32 01].

(For sectional arrangement of the Konig class ships, see Smith 1989, 22. For underwater artist's impression (with SMS Markgraf and SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm) and block section, see Macdonald 1998, 74 and 80 respectively).

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 8 January 2003.

G Bennett 1983; H M Le Fleming 1961; D Van der Vat 1986; P L Smith 1989; R Macdonald 1998; [Jane] 2001.

HO Chart 35 (1980, revised 1991).

p. 21, fig. 12 Imagenex 858 sonar image

(unpaginated annexe) information from Dolphin Scuba Service

(unpaginated annexe) oral testimony by Mr Douglas Campbell (formerly of Scapa Flow Salvage Ltd) regarding salvage operations in the 1970's

Scapa Flow Salvage Ltd purchased the assets of Nundy Marine Metals in November 1971 and carried out salvage operations between March 1972 and November 1977. These were apparently limited in scale and concentrated on the wreck of SMS Markgraf; the company was sold to Underwater Associates in 1978.

Salvage operations aimed to recover armour plate (both side armour and the armoured bulkheads positioned towards the bow and stern from the turrets) and non-ferrous metals (notably pumps, copper pies and evaporators). Operations were based at Rinnigill [name: ND 318 938]. Non-ferrous metal was stored in a shed and heavy armour in water until sent south at the end of each season; the former went to Inverkeithing and the latter usually to Germany. Some small quantities of 7inch plate were used in the manufacture (in Edinburgh) of whole-body radioactivity monitors.

NMRS, MS/829/63

(Discussed in connection with Scheduling of wrecks in Scapa Flow).

Source: 'Wrecks, divers and scheduling: the case of Scapa Flow, Orkney', article by O Owen in Nautical Archaeology, 2002.3.



Side Scan Sonar Survey (5 July 2000 - 28 July 2000)

A side scan sonar survey of the area of Scapa Flow in which the seven wrecks are situated was carried out in conjunction with a bathymetric and seabed classification survey using Echoplous equipment. In addition, detailed sonar images were obtained and geo-referenced so that exact co-ordinates of the extreme ends of each wreck structure could be obtained.

Diver Inspection (5 July 2000 - 28 July 2000)

A side scan sonar survey of the area of Scapa Flow in which the seven wrecks are situated was carried out in conjunction with a bathymetric and seabed classification survey using Echoplous equipment. In addition, detailed sonar images were obtained and geo-referenced so that exact co-ordinates of the extreme ends of each wreck structure could be obtained.

Project (2001 - 2006)

ScapaMAP II was funded by Historic Scotland to assess the current condition of the sites five years on using high-resolution survey tools. ScapaMAP II was developed to fulfill the following aims: Resurvey the sites using high-resolution remote sensing techniques (a recommendation from the ScapaMAP project) to see if this could be used to determine both fine and gross changes in the wrecks structure; Conduct diver lead surveys to verify these changes; Increase the public awareness for the need to conserve underwater heritage sites through diver participation and materials produced.

Reference (2011)

Whittaker ID : 71


Latitude : 585333

Longitude : 30954

Registration : GERMAN


Tonnage : 25388

Tonnage Code : D

Length : 174

Beam : 29

Position : Exact Position

Loss Day : 21

Loss Month : 6

Loss Year : 1919

Comment : Scuttled 0.5 mile NE of Cava

Reference (19 April 2012)

UKHO Identifier : 001087

Feature Class : Wreck

Wreck Category : Dangerous wreck

State : LIVE

Status : Historic

Classification : Unclassified

Position (Lat/long) : 58.89124,-3.16674

Horizontal Datum : ETRS 1989

WGS84 Position (Lat/long) : 58.89124,-3.16674

WGS84 Origin : Original

Previous Position : 58.89195,-3.16528

Position Method : Differential Global Positioning System

Position Quality : Surveyed

Position Accuracy : 3.0

Depth : 22.5

Depth Method : Found by multi-beam

Depth Quality : Least depth known

Water Depth : 40

Water Level Effect : Always under water/submerged

Vertical Datum : Mean Low Water Springs




Length : 176.8

Beam : 29.6

Orientation : 80.0

Tonnage : 25390

Tonnage Type : Displacement

Date Sunk : 21/06/1919

Contact Description : Entire wreck

Original Sensor : Reported Sinking

Last Sensor : Acoustic Sensor

Original Detection Year : 1919

Last Detection Year : 2010

Original Source : Other

Last Source : Survey Vessel

Circumstances of Loss : **SCUTTLED IN SCAPA FLOW.


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