The Search for the Wreck of HMS Neptune - Spring 2008The Search for the Wreck of HMS Neptune - Spring 2008
From the first meeting of the Association on December 19th 2002, searching for Neptune's wreck has always been stated as the long term aim. The Aims are shown on the website's Association page.
The reason why it is important to find where Neptune actually lies is that her position will prove whether or not she was sunk in the Italian minefield. Official records show that that Neptune's wreck lies 20 miles north of Tripoli. A wreck probably lies at this location but it is unlikely to be Neptune since the position is 6 miles north of the massive Italian minefield.(1750 mines laid 3 to 13 miles from the Libyan coast.) Kandahar drifted 50 miles east-south-east in 24 hours before being sunk by HMS Jaguar who rescued her crew. In the less likely event that Neptune's wreck lies in the Admiralty charted position, then she didn't reach the minefield and questions arise as to how she was sunk.
Until last year, finding her was merely a distant dream but during our visit to Tripoli there was a completely unexpected development. At the British Ambassador's reception on 25th April, the Libyan Diving Association made an offer, in writing, to mount an expedition to find the exact location of HMS Neptune, stating that it was being done 'as a mark of friendship to the British people'. Since her wreck is in Libyan waters she is not a war grave as such, despite being the maritime grave for hundreds of sailors. The Libyans have undertaken to abide by the MOD code of 'looking, but not touching' and of not filming inside the wreck.
Our members are rightly concerned that the wreck should be respected and that Libya would protect it to prevent unauthorised diving. The Libyan respect for the dead is shown by the beautiful way in which the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery has been kept throughout the years of confrontation. It is clear that any search and diving operation can only take place with the full involvement of Libyan authorities, and it would seem preferable to co-operate since we would then have an input into how the wreck was treated, quite apart from the political benefits and the unique chance to solve some of the mysteries surrounding Neptune's fate.
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