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Divers search wrecks for hidden treasures

'Unique' change to examine Goodwin Sands fleet

Divers from Ramsgate are exploring wrecks on the Goodwin Sands this week to film and photograph hidden treasures.

Thirty divers, including a team from America, are recording artifacts buried for hundreds of years, focusing on a fleet of 17th Century ships from the Royal Navy's fleet.

The project, dubbed "Man-O-War" is organised by Seadive Organisation, based at Ramsgate Harbour, and will carry on until 11 July.

A Thanet Council spokesman said: "Shifting sands have left the wrecks exposed as never before and the divers will be able to take some unique pictures.

"No artifacts will be removed, but the film and photos will form a permanent display at the Maritime Museum."

The wrecks of the warships Stirling Castle, Mary, Northumberland and Restoration are considered of major importance to maritime heritage and protected by law.

They sank during the great storm of 1703 after being blown from their shelter in Deal on to the Goodwin Sands. More than 1,100 people were lost.

The fleet was found in 1978 by a fisherman and indentified by divers.

Some pieces raised have been restored and are on display in the Maritime Museum at Ramsgate, but the majority of the wrecks have been left intact.

Thanet Council maritime chief Sid Farmer said: "I am pleased to see the Seadive Organisation has organised this exciting project, which is already attracting international attention."

The results of the survey will form part of an international maritime heritage conference in Thanet next year for the East Kent Maritime Trust's Millenium celebrations.

Isle of Thanet Gazette - Friday July 2, 1999

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