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UK and France collaborate on Dunkirk wreck project



Historic England and France's DRASSM (Department of Underwater Archaeological Research) have collaborated for the first time on a research project to find and identify shipwrecks from the Dunkirk operation lost in French waters.

Operation Dynamo involved more than 1,000 vessels – ranging from military and transport to fishing, service and pleasure boats – between 26 May and 4 June 1940, which between them managed to rescue 338,226 Allied soldiers from the French beaches and evacuate them to the UK South Coast.

However, more than 300 ships were lost during the legendary mission. Divers from Dunkirk and the surrounding area have found 37 wrecks in French waters, but another 31 are believed to be in the vicinity, just waiting to be discovered.

The research project between Historic England and DRASSM will be based off the latter's archaeological research vessel André Malraux, and use multi-beam echo-sounder, side-scan sonar and magnetometer technology to further document the condition of the ships already located, as well as search for those still missing.

It is envisaged that this year's project will pave the way for scuba-diving surveys to take place through 2024.

Photo credit: Frederic Osada / DRASSM)

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Mark Evans
Scuba Diver's Editorial Director Mark Evans has been in the diving industry for nearly 25 years, and has been diving since he was just 12 years old. nearly 40-odd years later and he is still addicted to the underwater world.
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