Sites : Resurgam
Off Rhyl, North Wales, UK
Coordinates : 53 23.7269N
003 33.3333W (WGS84) Depth : 15m
Conditions : Exposed, strong tides, zero to poor visibility
Type : Steam powered submarine
Built : 1879 Lost : 1880
Designated under the UK
Protection of Wrecks Act (1973)
The Resurgam before
The Resurgam, the
world's second mechanically propelled submarine, was designed and
patented by a Manchester clergyman called Reverend George William
Garrett. The submarine was built in 1879 by Cochran & Co in
Birkenhead, at the time she cost £1500.
The Resurgam was fabricated using
iron plates fastened over iron stringers and frames with the central
section clad with wood retained by iron straps. She was powered by a
closed system steam engine patented by Eugene Lamm in 1872, this
provided steam to turn the single screw for up to four hours.
Resurgam was designed to be positively buoyant so diving was
controlled by two hydroplanes amidships. When built the
Resurgam was 45’ long and 10’ diameter, weighed 30 tons and had
a crew of three.
After successfully completing
trials in the East Float at Wallasey, the Resurgam was to make her
way under her own steam from Birkenhead to Portsmouth for a
demonstration to the Royal Navy.
During the voyage, technical
problems forced the crew to dock at Rhyl for repairs. Once the
repairs were complete the crew set sail at night in a gale, towed by
steam yacht. The yacht developed engine trouble so the crew of the
Resurgam transferred to the towing vessel to deal with the
mechanical problems. The conning tower hatch on the now unmanned
submarine could not be closed from the outside so the Resurgam took
on water. The towrope broke under the additional strain and on
February 25th 1880 the Resurgam was lost somewhere off Rhyl.
See the Resurgam Photo
The hull underwater showing damage to the fin
Download the digital archive
Opens using the FREE Site Reader program
submarine was rediscovered late in 1995 when she was caught in the nets of
a Colwyn Bay trawlerman, Dennis Hunt. A local diver, Keith Hurley, freed
the snagged nets and realised that they had found the Resurgam. The
Resurgam was designated protected wreck no 42 on 6th July 1996, the site
covering an area 300m radius of position 53° 23.78' N., 03° 33.18' W.
The enthusiasm shown at a
public meeting about the Resurgam
led to the organisation of the SUBMAP project by Martin Dean and the
ADU. This project ran
from 4th to
15th June 1997
and used sports divers along with avocational and professional
archaeologists to complete archaeological work prior to the intended
removal of the submarine to a safe location.
Many of those involved were recruited through the Nautical
Archaeology Society (NAS) and would attend for anything from the
full two weeks of the project to just a quick visit to dive on the
vessel Terschelling remained on
site for the duration of the project and was visited daily by other dive
boats coming out from Rhyl. Terschelling
provided a platform for the surface supplied diving gear used by the
archaeologists excavating the site under the direction of Alex Hildred and
was also the centre of survey operations using a Sonardyne underwater
positioning system and a Hyball ROV. Shore
side arrangements were based at Rhyl Yacht Club and were managed by Garry
Momber who at that time was with the NAS.
An interim report was provided to the Committee on Historic Wreck in
October 1997 but a comprehensive report on the project has not yet been
published. The issue of the
report was again raised in 2008 and as a step towards its completion it
was decided to collate and reprocess all of the information that was
available about the Resurgam
site. Numerous diverse
datasets were digitised then collected together using the Site Recorder 4
program, this program allows easy and efficient access to the documentary
archive. Using Site Recorder
also allows the electronic publication of the entire documentary archive,
as done for other sites including the archive for the recent excavation of
the Mary Rose.
All of the survey data was reprocessed and was used to create a
digital site plan; this was further enhanced with details from the
numerous SUBMAP dive logs and the hours of video footage from the Hyball
ROV. The resulting digital
plan can be used to show the site at any stage from the present day back
to a reconstruction of the site when the submarine first sank.
Information about the finds recovered then reburied during the
excavation was added to the archive along with geophysical data collected
during a number of different surveys.
A large quantity of photographs and pictures were scanned and added
to the Site Recorder file along with scans of documents relating to the
Resurgam and to SUBMAP.
The entire digital archive was then made publically available on CD and
via this web site. The version
available on CD contains all of the site information along with 30 MB of
high resolution images and 57 MB of documents.
The version that can be downloaded for free from the Web contains
the same site information but includes low resolution images and just a
record of the documents rather than copies of the documents themselves.
The archive was collated and processed using Site Recorder 4 but
can be viewed using the free Site Reader program available from the same
full size replica of the Resurgam can be seen at Woodside ferry terminal,
Bibliography and Links
- Historic Shipwrecks, Fenwick V. & Gale A., 1998,
Tempus Publishing Ltd., ISBN 07524 1416 X, pp143-144
- The Father of the Submarine, Scanlan Murphy W., 1987,
William Kimber & Co Ltd, ISBN 0 7183 0654 6, 62-83
- The Garrett Enigma, Bowers P., 1999, Airlife Publishing Ltd.,
ISBN 1 84037 066 1, pp89-129
- The Submarine Pioneers, Compton-Hall R., 1999, Sutton Publishing Ltd,
ISBN 0 7509 2154 4, 81-94