During 2013 the Nautical Archaeology Society will be undertaking a new project, funded by English Heritage to establish a diver visitor trail on the wreck of the A1 submarine which will open to visiting divers ready for the 2014 diving season.
The aim of the project is to develop a visitor diver trail on the designated wreck of the HMS/m A1 submarine (designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act (1973) in 1998 (Statutory Instrument number 1998/2708), with an amendment in 2004 (Statutory Instrument number 2004/2395). The dive trail would be organised and managed by the NAS in partnership with the Southsea branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club (SSAC). An underwater information guide for divers visiting the site will be designed that will aid navigation and assist visitors in recognising features on the wreck. This guide will also explain the background to the remains and the issues of protecting and managing the wreck. An online interactive visualisation will be created and supporting webpages will be hosted by the NAS and SSAC where descriptions and photographs from visiting divers can be posted. The trail will be promoted by press release, circulated to several major diving magazines, and promotional materials for local and major diving shops.
Diver visitor trails have to date proved a useful way of managing public access to wrecks protected under the Protection of Wrecks Act (1973). The goal of any diver visitor trail will be to improve public access to the underwater cultural heritage whilst not putting that heritage at risk of damage as a result of increased access. This project is aiming to emulate successful trails established on the other protected wrecks of HMS Hazardous in Brackelsham Bay, West Sussex, on HMS Colossus off the Isles of Scilly, on the Coronation wreck off Plymouth, Devon and on the Norman’s Bay Wreck off Eastbourne in Sussex.
The wreck of HMS/m A1 submarine has been identified as a suitable candidate for a visitor diver trail as it is well documented, historically interesting to divers, substantial and upstanding which will make it easier to locate by visiting groups, because it is robust enough to withstand improved visitor access and finally because it is lies in a geographical position where visiting the wreck is relatively simple and safe.
Designing the trail will involve collation of all the background information needed to design the underwater guides and the promotional materials. At this stage we will also be looking to obtain images and video footage for the online visualisation which will be created by 3deep Media Ltd. This stage of the project will take place between February and May 2013. The next stage will involve the organisation and management of the six visits to the wreck by and NAS dive team and by recreational diving groups between June 2013 and September 2013. This will be done by the NAS in conjunction with the licensee Martin Davies from Southsea Sub-Aqua Club. The final stage of the project will be the promotion and reporting. This will include the promotion of the trail to the general public and possible future visitors. This stage will also involve the writing of a final report on the project for English Heritage. The report will review the project and also make recommendations based on lessons learnt regarding the design of the trail and the online visualisation. This stage of the project will take place between October 2013 and the end of December 2013.