Steven Ellis – The 2020 MSDS Marine Grand Award recipient

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In this blog, Steven Ellis, the 2020 recipient of the MSDS Marine Grant Award to support maritime archaeology students shares how he has spent his award.

Nothing can be more exciting than being the licensee to one of the most historic shipwrecks we have in our waters, the wreck of the London, which accidentally exploded off Southend-on-Sea in 1665. A small team of volunteer divers have continued to monitor and investigate the wreckage most weekends, since 2011. On these dives many exciting discoveries and artefact rescue recoveries are made due to the fact of the erosion that affects the site.

The Thames Estuary isn’t perhaps the most appealing place to dive due to it’s extremely strong currents and almost zero visibility. These dives are all carried out on the team’s trusted old work horse, an ex shipping line’s rescue boat, and like any other boat owner will tell you keeping them running is a constant battle in itself. When one of the main pieces of navigational equipment packs up, it puts another strain on the team’s pockets. The GPS plotter is a great aid to help quickly locate the wreck site, especially when the slack water time is really limited and the site can’t have a permanent buoy placed on it, due to the fact it’s situated right on the edge of one of the world’s busiest shipping channels. A borrowed hand held GPS was trialled, but certainly not the solution for a replacement as it didn’t give an accurate fix from a moving boat.

So who should come to the rescue, MSDS Marine, with their annual grant award scheme, which supports the work of Historic England’s volunteer protected wreck licensees. Not only did MSDS Marine provide the team with a new GPS unit, being specialists in the world of sonar they knew which one would really suit our needs. Especially as it contains a chart plotter, depth sounder and side scan all in one.

Many dives have been made since its instalment, and it’s been a great aid in allowing us to put the shot line in almost the same place. Saving us valuable time is a bit of an understatement.

So, a big thank you MSDS Marine from all of the London wreck team.

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