Scuttling is the act of deliberately sinking a ship by allowing water to flow into the hull
Hull (watercraft)
A hull is the watertight body of a ship or boat. Above the hull is the superstructure and/or deckhouse, where present. The line where the hull meets the water surface is called the waterline.The structure of the hull varies depending on the vessel type...


This can be achieved in several ways—valve
A valve is a device that regulates, directs or controls the flow of a fluid by opening, closing, or partially obstructing various passageways. Valves are technically pipe fittings, but are usually discussed as a separate category...

s or hatch
Hatch may refer to:* Hatching, also called "cross-hatching", an artistic technique used to create tonal or shading effects using closely spaced parallel lines* Hatching, the emergence of a young animal from an egg...

es can be opened to the sea, or holes may be ripped into the hull with brute force or with explosives. Scuttling may be performed to dispose of an abandoned, old, or captured vessel; to prevent the vessel from becoming a navigation hazard; as an act of self-destruction to prevent the ship from being captured by an enemy force; as a blockship
A blockship is a ship deliberately sunk to prevent a river, channel, or canal from being used.It may either be sunk by a navy defending the waterway to prevent the ingress of attacking enemy forces, as in the case of HMS Hood at Portland Harbour; or it may be brought by enemy raiders and used to...

 to restrict navigation through a channel
Channel (geography)
In physical geography, a channel is the physical confine of a river, slough or ocean strait consisting of a bed and banks.A channel is also the natural or human-made deeper course through a reef, sand bar, bay, or any shallow body of water...

 or within a harbor
A harbor or harbour , or haven, is a place where ships, boats, and barges can seek shelter from stormy weather, or else are stored for future use. Harbors can be natural or artificial...

; or to provide an artificial reef
Artificial reef
An artificial reef is a human-made underwater structure, typically built to promote marine life in areas with a generally featureless bottom, control erosion, block ship passage, or improve surfing....

 for divers and marine life. In naval combat usage, scuttling usually involves use of torpedo
The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

es, and is done to prevent an enemy from gaining (or retaining) a valuable ship. The term applies regardless of whether a friendly or enemy hulk
Hulk (ship)
A hulk is a ship that is afloat, but incapable of going to sea. Although sometimes used to describe a ship that has been launched but not completed, the term most often refers to an old ship that has had its rigging or internal equipment removed, retaining only its flotational qualities...

 is the target.

Hernán Cortés (1519)

The Spaniard conquistador
Conquistadors were Spanish soldiers, explorers, and adventurers who brought much of the Americas under the control of Spain in the 15th to 16th centuries, following Europe's discovery of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492...

 Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

, who led the first expedition that resulted in the fall of the Aztec empire, ordered his men to strip and scuttle his fleet in order to prevent the secretly planned return to Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 by those loyal to Cuban Governor Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar
Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar
Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar was a Spanish conquistador. He conquered and governed Cuba on behalf of Spain.-Early life:...

. Their success would have halted his inland march and conquest of the Aztec Empire.

HMS Sapphire (1696)

The HMS Sapphire
HMS Sapphire (1675)
HMS Sapphire was a 32-gun fifth rate of the Royal Navy. She was designed and built by Sir Anthony Deane at Harwich in 1675, at a cost of £4,175....

 was a 32-gun, fifth-rate
In Britain's Royal Navy during the classic age of fighting sail, a fifth rate was the penultimate class of warships in a hierarchal system of six "ratings" based on size and firepower.-Rating:...

 sailing frigate
A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...

 of the Royal Navy in Newfoundland to protect the English migratory fishery. The vessel was trapped in Bay Bulls harbour by four French naval vessels led by Jacques-François de Brouillan. In order to avoid capture, the English scuttled the vessel on 11 September 1696.

Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol (1854)

During the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

, in anticipation of the Siege of Sevastopol, the Russians scuttled ships of the Black Sea Fleet
Black Sea Fleet
The Black Sea Fleet is a large operational-strategic sub-unit of the Russian Navy, operating in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea since the late 18th century. It is based in various harbors of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov....

 to protect the harbour, to use their naval cannon as additional artillery, and to free up the ships' crews as marines. Those ships that were deliberately sunk included Grand Duke Constantine, City of Paris (both with 120 guns
Ship of the line
A ship of the line was a type of naval warship constructed from the 17th through the mid-19th century to take part in the naval tactic known as the line of battle, in which two columns of opposing warships would manoeuvre to bring the greatest weight of broadside guns to bear...

), Brave, Empress Maria, Chesme, Yagondeid (84 guns), Kavarna (60 guns), Konlephy (54 guns), steam frigate Vladimir, steamboat
A steamboat or steamship, sometimes called a steamer, is a ship in which the primary method of propulsion is steam power, typically driving propellers or paddlewheels...

s Thunderer, Bessarabia, Danube, Odessa, Elbrose and Krein.
After the war, it became a technologic challenge to recover the ships

USS Merrimack/CSS Virginia (1861)

In 1861, the Federal
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 steam frigate
A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...

USS Merrimack (1855)
USS Merrimack was a frigate and sailing vessel of the United States Navy, best known as the hull upon which the ironclad warship, CSS Virginia was constructed during the American Civil War...

 was set afire in Gosport Shipyard (now Norfolk Naval Shipyard
Norfolk Naval Shipyard
The Norfolk Naval Shipyard, often called the Norfolk Navy Yard and abbreviated as NNSY, is a U.S. Navy facility in Portsmouth, Virginia, for building, remodeling, and repairing the Navy's ships. It's the oldest and largest industrial facility that belongs to the U.S. Navy as well as the most...

) to keep her from falling into Confederate
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 hands. The unsuccessful attempt at scuttling enabled the Confederate Navy
Confederate States Navy
The Confederate States Navy was the naval branch of the Confederate States armed forces established by an act of the Confederate Congress on February 21, 1861. It was responsible for Confederate naval operations during the American Civil War...

 to raise and rebuild her as Virginia
CSS Virginia
CSS Virginia was the first steam-powered ironclad warship of the Confederate States Navy, built during the first year of the American Civil War; she was constructed as a casemate ironclad using the raised and cut down original lower hull and steam engines of the scuttled . Virginia was one of the...

. Virginia was later sunk by the Confederates after her famous battle with USS Monitor
USS Monitor
USS Monitor was the first ironclad warship commissioned by the United States Navy during the American Civil War. She is most famous for her participation in the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862, the first-ever battle fought between two ironclads...

 to keep her from being taken back.

SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse

In August 1914, SS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was requisitioned by the Kaiserliche Marine
Kaiserliche Marine
The Imperial German Navy was the German Navy created at the time of the formation of the German Empire. It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small Prussian Navy and Norddeutsche Bundesmarine, which primarily had the mission of coastal defense. Kaiser Wilhelm II greatly expanded...

 and converted into an auxiliary cruiser, assigned to commerce raiding
Commerce raiding
Commerce raiding or guerre de course is a form of naval warfare used to destroy or disrupt the logistics of an enemy on the open sea by attacking its merchant shipping, rather than engaging the combatants themselves or enforcing a blockade against them.Commerce raiding was heavily criticised by...

 in the Atlantic. She was fitted with six 10.5 cm (4 inch) guns and two 37 mm guns. After sparing two passenger ships because they were carrying many women and children, she sank two freighters before she herself was sunk on 26 August 1914. She was caught refuelling off the shore of the then Spanish colony of Rio de Oro
Río de Oro
Río de Oro , is, with Saguia el-Hamra, one of the two territories that formed the Spanish province of Spanish Sahara after 1969; it was originally taken as a Spanish colonial possession in the late 19th century...

 in western Africa by the old British 6-inch gunned cruiser . Badly outgunned, the ship eventually ran out of ammunition. The crew abandoned and scuttled her. British sources at the time insisted that Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse sank because of the damage inflicted by Highflyer. Whatever the cause, she was the first passenger ship sunk during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...


Zeebrugge Raid (1918)

The Zeebrugge Raid
Zeebrugge Raid
The Zeebrugge Raid, which took place on 23 April 1918, was an attempt by the British Royal Navy to neutralize the key Belgian port of Bruges-Zeebrugge...

 involved three outdated British cruisers chosen to serve as blockship
A blockship is a ship deliberately sunk to prevent a river, channel, or canal from being used.It may either be sunk by a navy defending the waterway to prevent the ingress of attacking enemy forces, as in the case of HMS Hood at Portland Harbour; or it may be brought by enemy raiders and used to...

s in the German-held Belgian port of Bruges-Zeebrugge from which German U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

 operations threatened British shipping. Thetis
HMS Thetis (1890)
HMS Thetis was an Apollo-class 2nd class protected cruiser of the Royal Navy, launched on 13 December 1890. Her first significant mission was service in the Bering Sea Patrol with American warships in a combined effort to suppress poaching in the Bering Sea. The latter half of her career was spent...

, Intrepid and Iphigenia were filled with concrete then sent to block a critical canal. Heavy defensive fire caused the Thetis to scuttle prematurely; the other two cruisers sank themselves successfully in the narrowest part of the canal. Within three days, however, the Germans had broken through the western bank of the canal to create a shallow detour for their submarines to move past the blockships at high tide.

German fleet at Scapa Flow (1919)

In 1919, over 50 warships of the German High Seas Fleet were scuttled by their crews at Scapa Flow
Scapa Flow
right|thumb|Scapa Flow viewed from its eastern endScapa Flow is a body of water in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, United Kingdom, sheltered by the islands of Mainland, Graemsay, Burray, South Ronaldsay and Hoy. It is about...

 following the deliverance of the fleet as part of the terms of the German surrender. Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter
Ludwig von Reuter
Ludwig von Reuter was a German admiral during World War I, who commanded the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet when it was interned at Scapa Flow at the end of the war. On 21 June 1919 he ordered the scuttling of the fleet to prevent the British from seizing the ships.-Early life:Reuter was...

 ordered the sinkings, denying the majority of the ships to the British. Von Reuter was made a prisoner-of-war in Britain but his defiant final act of war was celebrated in Germany. Though most of the fleet was subsequently salvaged by engineer Ernest Cox
Ernest Cox
Ernest Frank Guelph Cox was an electrical and mechanical engineer and marine salvage expert from Wolverhampton. Between 1924 and 1931 his Cox & Danks Shipbreaking Co. successfully raised 35 of the German fleet that had been scuttled at Gutter Sound, Scapa Flow in 1919. He eventually sold the...

, a number of warships (including three battleships) remain, making the area very popular amongst undersea diving enthusiasts.

Admiral Graf Spee (1939)

Following the Battle of the River Plate
Battle of the River Plate
The Battle of the River Plate was the first naval battle in the Second World War. The German pocket battleship had been commerce raiding since the start of the war in September 1939...

 the damaged German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee sought refuge in the port of Montevideo
Montevideo is the largest city, the capital, and the chief port of Uruguay. The settlement was established in 1726 by Bruno Mauricio de Zabala, as a strategic move amidst a Spanish-Portuguese dispute over the platine region, and as a counter to the Portuguese colony at Colonia del Sacramento...

. On 17 December 1939, with the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 cruisers Ajax
HMS Ajax (22)
HMS Ajax was a Leander class light cruiser which served with the British Royal Navy during World War II. She became famous for her part in the Battle of the River Plate, the Battle of Crete, the Battle of Malta and as a supply escort in the Siege of Tobruk. This ship was the eighth in the Royal...

, Achilles
HMNZS Achilles (70)
HMNZS Achilles was a Leander class light cruiser which served with the Royal New Zealand Navy in World War II. She became famous for her part in the Battle of the River Plate, alongside HMS Ajax and HMS Exeter....

, and Cumberland
HMS Cumberland (57)
HMS Cumberland was a County class heavy cruiser of the Royal Navy that saw action during the Second World War.-Career:Cumberland served on the China Station with the 5th Cruiser Squadron from 1928 until 1938, returning to the UK in March 1935 for a refit...

 waiting in international waters outside the mouth of the Río de la Plata
Río de la Plata
The Río de la Plata —sometimes rendered River Plate in British English and the Commonwealth, and occasionally rendered [La] Plata River in other English-speaking countries—is the river and estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and the Paraná River on the border between Argentina and...

, the Graf Spee sailed just outside the harbour and was scuttled by Captain Hans Langsdorff
Hans Langsdorff
Hans Wilhelm Langsdorff was a German naval officer, most famous for his command of the Panzerschiff Admiral Graf Spee during the Battle of the River Plate. He held the rank of Kapitän zur See....

 to avoid risking the lives of his crew in what he expected to be a losing battle. Capt. Langsdorff shot himself three days later.

Blockade of Massawa (1941)

As the British advanced toward Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

 during their East African Campaign
East African Campaign (World War II)
The East African Campaign was a series of battles fought in East Africa during World War II by the British Empire, the British Commonwealth of Nations and several allies against the forces of Italy from June 1940 to November 1941....

 in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Mario Bonetti, the Italian commander of the Red Sea Flotilla
Red Sea Flotilla
The Red Sea Flotilla was a unit of the Italian Royal Navy based in Massawa, Eritrea, when Massawa was part of Italian East Africa...

 based at Massawa
Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa Massawa, also known as Mitsiwa (Ge'ez ምጽዋዕ , formerly ባጽዕ is a city on the Red Sea coast of Eritrea. An important port for many centuries, it was ruled by a succession of polities, including the Axumite Empire, the Umayyad Caliphate,...

, realized that his harbor was going to be overrun by the enemy. In the first week of April, 1941, he began to destroy the harbor's facilities and ruin its usefulness to the British. Bonetti ordered the sinking of two large floating dry docks and supervised the calculated scuttling of eighteen large commercial ships in the mouths of the north Naval Harbor, the central Commercial Harbor and the main South Harbor, blocking navigation in and out. Scuttled, too, was a large floating crane. The harbor was rendered useless by 8 April 1941 when it was surrendered to the British. Scuttled ships included the German steamers Liebenfels, Frauenfels, Lichtenfels, Crefeld, Gera and Oliva. Also scuttled were the Italian steamers Adua, Brenta, Arabia, Romolo Gessi, Vesuvio, XXIII Marzo, Antonia C., Riva Ligure, Clelia Campenella, Prometeo and the Italian tanker Giove. The largest scuttled vessel was the 11,760 ton Colombo, an Italian steamer. The most dangerous problems for salvage
Marine salvage
Marine salvage is the process of rescuing a ship, its cargo, or other property from peril. Salvage encompasses rescue towing, refloating a sunken or grounded vessel, or patching or repairing a ship...

 were the Brenta which contained a booby trap
Booby trap
A booby trap is a device designed to harm or surprise a person, unknowingly triggered by the presence or actions of the victim. As the word trap implies, they often have some form of bait designed to lure the victim towards it. However, in other cases the device is placed on busy roads or is...

 sunk in one hold
Hold (ship)
thumb|right|120px|View of the hold of a container shipA ship's hold is a space for carrying cargo. Cargo in holds may be either packaged in crates, bales, etc., or unpackaged . Access to holds is by a large hatch at the top...

 made of an armed naval mine
Naval mine
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, an enemy vessel...

 sitting on three torpedo warheads and Regia Marina
Regia Marina
The Regia Marina dates from the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 after Italian unification...

 minelayer Ostia which had been sunk by the RAF
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 with several of its mines still racked. Thirteen additional coastal steamers and small naval vessels were scuttled as well.

Though a civilian contractor was retained to clear a navigable passage through the wrecks, it wasn't until a year later that headway was made in the effort to return Massawa to military duties. U.S. Navy Commander Edward Ellsberg
Edward Ellsberg
Rear Admiral Edward Ellsberg, OBE was an officer in the United States Navy and a popular author. He was widely known as "Commander Ellsberg."-Early years:...

 arrived in April, 1942 with a salvage crew and a small collection of specialized tools and began methodically correcting the damage. His salvage efforts were to yield significant results in just 5½ weeks. On 8 May 1942, the SS Koritza, an armed Greek steamer, was drydocked for cleaning and minor hull repairs. Massawa's first major surface fleet 'customer' was HMS Dido
HMS Dido (37)
HMS Dido was the name ship of her class of light cruisers for the Royal Navy. She was built by Cammell Laird Shipyard , with the keel being laid down on 26 October 1937. She was launched on 18 July 1939 and commissioned on 30 September 1940.-Mediterranean:On 18 August 1942 Captain H. W. U...

 which needed repairs to a heavily damaged stern in mid-August, 1942. Many of the harbor's sunken ships were patched by divers, refloated, repaired and taken into service. The Ostia and Brenta were successfully salvaged despite their armed mines.

Bismarck (1941)

In 1941, the battleship Bismarck
German battleship Bismarck
Bismarck was the first of two s built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the primary force behind the German unification in 1871, the ship was laid down at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg in July 1936 and launched nearly three years later...

, heavily damaged by the Royal Navy, leaking fuel, listing, rendered mostly unmaneuverable and with no effective weapons but still afloat, was reported to have been scuttled by her crew to avoid capture. This was supported by survivors' reports in Pursuit: the Sinking of the Bismarck, by Ludovic Kennedy
Ludovic Kennedy
Sir Ludovic Henry Coverley Kennedy was a British journalist, broadcaster, humanist and author best known for re-examining cases such as the Lindbergh kidnapping and the murder convictions of Timothy Evans and Derek Bentley, and for his role in the abolition of the death penalty in the United...

, 1974 and by a later examination of the wreck itself by Dr. Robert Ballard
Robert Ballard
Robert Duane Ballard is a former United States Navy officer and a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island who is most noted for his work in underwater archaeology. He is most famous for the discoveries of the wrecks of the RMS Titanic in 1985, the battleship Bismarck in 1989,...

 in 1989. A later, more advanced examination found torpedoes had penetrated the second deck, normally always above water and only possible on an already sinking ship, and any scuttling action would have made little difference.

Coral Sea and Midway (1942)

After the Battles of the Coral Sea
Battle of the Coral Sea
The Battle of the Coral Sea, fought from 4–8 May 1942, was a major naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II between the Imperial Japanese Navy and Allied naval and air forces from the United States and Australia. The battle was the first fleet action in which aircraft carriers engaged...

 and Midway
Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway is widely regarded as the most important naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, approximately one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea and six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy decisively defeated...

, the heavily damaged aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s Lexington
USS Lexington (CV-2)
USS Lexington , nicknamed the "Gray Lady" or "Lady Lex," was an early aircraft carrier of the United States Navy. She was the lead ship of the , though her sister ship was commissioned a month earlier...

, Sōryū
Japanese aircraft carrier Soryu
was an aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy. During the Second World War, she took part in the attack on Pearl Harbor, Wake Island, Port Darwin and raids in the Indian Ocean before being sunk at the Battle of Midway.-Design:...

, Akagi
Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi
Akagi was an aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy , originally begun as an . She was converted while still under construction to an aircraft carrier under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty...

, and Kaga
Japanese aircraft carrier Kaga
Kaga was an aircraft carrier of the Imperial Japanese Navy , named after the former Kaga Province in present-day Ishikawa Prefecture...

 were scuttled to prevent their preservation and use by the enemy.

The French fleet in Toulon (1942)

In November 1942, in an operation codenamed Case Anton
Case Anton
Operation Anton was the codename for the military occupation of Vichy France carried out by Germany and Italy in November 1942.- Background :...

, Nazi German forces occupied the so-called "Free Zone
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

" in response to the Allied landing in North Africa. On 27 November they reached Toulon
Toulon is a town in southern France and a large military harbor on the Mediterranean coast, with a major French naval base. Located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur region, Toulon is the capital of the Var department in the former province of Provence....

, where the majority of the French Navy
French Navy
The French Navy, officially the Marine nationale and often called La Royale is the maritime arm of the French military. It includes a full range of fighting vessels, from patrol boats to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and 10 nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are capable of launching...

 was anchored. To avoid capture by the Nazis (Operation Lila), the French admirals-in-command (Laborde
Jean de Laborde
Jean de Laborde was a French admiral, famous for the scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon.As a vice-admiral, Laborde was chief of the First Squadron, organised around the battleship Strasbourg....

 and Marquis
André Marquis
André Marquis was a French Vichyst admiral, famous for the scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon.Marquis was préfet maritime of Toulon, and as such, responsible for the administration of the city...

) decided to scuttle the 230,000 tonne fleet
Scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon
The French fleet in Toulon was scuttled on 27 November 1942 on the order of the Admiralty of Vichy France to avoid capture by Nazi German forces during Operation Lila of the Case Anton takeover of Vichy France.- Context :...

, most notably, the battleships Dunkerque
French battleship Dunkerque
The Dunkerque was the first unit of a new class of warships of the French Navy built in the 1930s, officially rated as battleships, or even «navires de ligne» , as Dunkerque and Strasbourg constituted, from the commissionig of Strasbourg to some days after Mers-el Kebir, the «1ère Division de Ligne»...

and Strasbourg
French battleship Strasbourg
The Strasbourg was a more heavily armoured Dunkerque-class battleship of the French Navy, labeled as a "fast battleship". Faster than full battleships, but not as heavily armed or armoured as them, they were designed to counter the threat of the German "pocket battleships" - the Deutschland-class...

. 80% of the fleet was utterly destroyed, all of the capital ship
Capital ship
The capital ships of a navy are its most important warships; they generally possess the heaviest firepower and armor and are traditionally much larger than other naval vessels...

s proving impossible to repair. Legally, the scuttling of the fleet was allowed under the terms of the 1940 Armistice with Germany
Armistice with France (Second Compiègne)
The Second Armistice at Compiègne was signed at 18:50 on 22 June 1940 near Compiègne, in the department of Oise, between Nazi Germany and France...


The Danish fleet (1943)

The Danish fleet has been sunk with honour. Long live the Danish Fleet.” (speech by Commander Ipsen, translated)

Anticipating a German seizure of all units of the Danish Navy , mostly in Copenhagen but also at other harbours and at sea in Danish waters, the Danish Admiralty had instructed its captains to resist, short of outright fighting, any German attempts to assume control over their vessels, by scuttling if escape to Sweden was not possible. Preparations were made under the operational codeword "Safari”. Of the fifty-two vessels in the Danish Navy on 29 August, two were in Greenland, thirty-two were scuttled, four reached Sweden and fourteen were taken undamaged by the Germans. Nine Danish sailors lost their lives and ten were wounded. Subsequently major parts of the Naval personnel were interned for a period. Just after, on the evening of 29 August, Admiral Wurmbach, Supreme Commander of the German Kriegsmarine in Denmark addressed Vice Admiral Vedel, the Commander in Chief of the Royal Danish Navy, as follows "Wir haben beide unsere Pflicht getan" (We have both done our duty).

Allied landing in Normandy (1944)

Old ships code-named "Corn cobs" were sunk to form a protective reef for the Mulberry harbour
Mulberry harbour
A Mulberry harbour was a British type of temporary harbour developed in World War II to offload cargo on the beaches during the Allied invasion of Normandy....

s at Arromanches and Omaha Beach
Omaha Beach
Omaha Beach is the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during World War II...

 for the Normandy landings. The sheltered waters created by these scuttled ships were called "Gooseberries" and protected the harbours so transport ships could unload without being hampered by waves.

Contemporary era

Today, ships (and other objects of similar size) are sometimes sunk in order to help the formation of artificial reef
Artificial reef
An artificial reef is a human-made underwater structure, typically built to promote marine life in areas with a generally featureless bottom, control erosion, block ship passage, or improve surfing....

s, as was done with the former in 2006. It is also common for military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 organizations to use old ships as targets
Target practice
Target practice refers to any exercise in which projectiles are fired at a specified target, usually to improve the aim of the person or persons firing the weapon....

, in war games, or for various other experiments. As an example, the decommissioned aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

  was subjected to surface and underwater explosions in 2005 as part of classified research to help design the next generation of carriers (the CVN-21 class), before being sunk with demolition charges.

Ships are increasingly being scuttled as a method of disposal. The economic benefit of scuttling a ship includes removal of ongoing operational expense to keep the vessel seaworthy. Controversy surrounds the practice. Notable actions against the practice include the USS Oriskany, which was scuttled with 700 pounds of PCBs
Polychlorinated biphenyl
Polychlorinated biphenyls are a class of organic compounds with 2 to 10 chlorine atoms attached to biphenyl, which is a molecule composed of two benzene rings. The chemical formula for PCBs is C12H10-xClx...

 remaining onboard, contravening the Stockholm Convention
Stockholm Convention
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is an international environmental treaty, signed in 2001 and effective from May 2004, that aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of persistent organic pollutants .- History :...

 on safe disposal of Persistent Organic Pollutant
Persistent organic pollutant
thumb|right|275px|State parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic PollutantsPersistent organic pollutants are organic compounds that are resistant to environmental degradation through chemical, biological, and photolytic processes...

s which has a zero tolerance for PCB dumping in marine environments. The planned scuttling of the Australian frigate at Avoca Beach, New South Wales
Avoca Beach, New South Wales
Avoca Beach is a coastal suburb of the Central Coast region of New South Wales, Australia, about north of Sydney. It is located within the City of Gosford local government area.-Geography:...

 in March 2010 was placed on hold after resident action groups aired concerns about possible impact on the area's tides and that the removal of dangerous substances from the ship was not thorough enough. Further cleanup work on the hulk was ordered, and despite further attempts to delay, Adelaide was scuttled on 13 April 2011.

Scuttled ships have been used as conveyance for dangerous materials. In the late 1960s, the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 scuttled the SS Corporal Eric G. Gibson and SS Mormactern with VX nerve gas
VX (nerve agent)
VX, IUPAC name O-ethyl S-[2-ethyl] methylphosphonothioate, is an extremely toxic substance whose only application is in chemical warfare as a nerve agent. As a chemical weapon, it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations in UN Resolution 687...

 rockets aboard as part of Operation CHASE
Operation CHASE
Operation CHASE was a United States Department of Defense program that involved the disposal of unwanted munitions at sea from May 1964 into the early 1970s....

 — "CHASE" being Pentagon shorthand for "Cut Holes and Sink 'Em." Other ships have been "chased" containing mustard agents
Sulfur mustard
The sulfur mustards, or sulphur mustards, commonly known as mustard gas, are a class of related cytotoxic, vesicant chemical warfare agents with the ability to form large blisters on exposed skin. Pure sulfur mustards are colorless, viscous liquids at room temperature...

, bomb
A bomb is any of a range of explosive weapons that only rely on the exothermic reaction of an explosive material to provide an extremely sudden and violent release of energy...

s, land mines, and radioactive waste
Radioactive waste
Radioactive wastes are wastes that contain radioactive material. Radioactive wastes are usually by-products of nuclear power generation and other applications of nuclear fission or nuclear technology, such as research and medicine...


During the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

, the Argentine submarine ARA Santa Fe was attacked and damaged by British helicopters on 23 April 1982. The crew abandoned the submarine on South Georgia and were captured by British forces. The submarine was later scuttled by the British.

The Iranian converted minelayer Iran Ajr
Iran Ajr
Iran Ajr, formerly known as the Arya Rakhsh, was a Japanese-built landing craft used by Iran to lay naval mines during the Iran–Iraq War. Built in 1978, the 614-ton, 54-meter ship was powered by two diesel engines and featured a bow ramp for unloading cargo...

was caught laying mines in the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 during the Iran–Iraq War on 21 September 1987, in an effort to sink or damage U.S.-flagged Kuwaiti oil tankers in international waters
International waters
The terms international waters or trans-boundary waters apply where any of the following types of bodies of water transcend international boundaries: oceans, large marine ecosystems, enclosed or semi-enclosed regional seas and estuaries, rivers, lakes, groundwater systems , and wetlands.Oceans,...

. The ship was attacked by U.S. Army helicopter gunships flying from a U.S. Navy frigate, then boarded by SEALs, who captured the surviving crew, confirmed the presence of mines, and then scuttled the ship five days later.

Narco submarines

Narco submarine
Narco submarine
A narco-submarine is a type of custom-made ocean-going self-propelled submersible vessel built by drug traffickers to smuggle drugs. They are especially known to be used by Colombian drug cartel members to export cocaine from Colombia to Mexico, which is often then transported overland to the...

s are known to be used by Colombian drug cartel
Drug cartel
Drug cartels are criminal organizations developed with the primary purpose of promoting and controlling drug trafficking operations. They range from loosely managed agreements among various drug traffickers to formalized commercial enterprises. The term was applied when the largest trafficking...

 members to import cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

 from Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

 to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. Due to their fiberglass construction, they are nearly invisible to radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

, sonar
Sonar is a technique that uses sound propagation to navigate, communicate with or detect other vessels...

, and infrared
Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than that of visible light, measured from the nominal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometres , and extending conventionally to 300 µm...

. After unloading or when intercepted, the submersible is scuttled; with no evidence of trafficking against them, the crewmen go from suspected traffickers to castaways who, in accordance with maritime law, must be rescued and cannot be charged. However, laws were recently changed to address what was seen as an exploitation of legal loophole
A loophole is a weakness that allows a system to be circumvented.Loophole may also refer to:*Arrowslit, a slit in a castle wall*Loophole , a short science fiction story by Arthur C...

s. The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

now considers the operation of an unflagged (unregistered) vessel designed solely for the clandestine transport of contraband a crime in and of itself that carries severe legal penalties.
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