News story

Royal Naval survey ship discovers sunken dhows

Royal Naval survey ship HMS Enterprise has discovered the previously uncharted wrecks of two dhows in Port Rashid Harbour, Dubai.

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HMS Enterprise
HMS Enterprise deploys from Falmouth (library image) [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

Making use of its new hi-tech, smaller motor launch, the Plymouth-based ship discovered two sunken dhows in one of the world’s busiest ports at the beginning of a nine-month deployment.

Spitfire, the new survey motor boat, can be sent off independently to gather data at the same time as the mother ship - effectively doubling the ship’s capacity to chart the seas.

After trials in the UK and around Souda Bay in Crete, the first real test of Spitfire came off Dubai with two days of surveying work in tandem with HMS Enterprise.

A three-dimensional graphical representation of a sunken dhow
A three-dimensional graphical representation of a sunken dhow created by the computer systems and software on board HMS Enterprise [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

The net result from the duo’s scanning using their multibeam sonars were the two previously undiscovered wrecks, each about 20 metres long and rising about five metres from the seabed of the harbour, produced in impressive 2D/3D graphic representations courtesy of the powerful computer systems and software aboard HMS Enterprise.

With the wrecks now surveyed, the data has been passed on to the Dubai Ports Authority and other mariners have been alerted to the dhows’ presence.

The Commanding Officer of HMS Enterprise, Commander Derek Rae, said:

A three-dimensional graphical representation of a sunken dhow
A three-dimensional graphical representation of a sunken dhow discovered by HMS Enterprise in Port Rashid Harbour [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

The level of detail visible on the wrecks shows the impressive capability of the new survey motor boat, and the opportunity afforded to us by the local authorities in Dubai to conduct this survey training has been invaluable.

The outcome of the training has been mutually beneficial and we are delighted to have been of assistance to other mariners.

The ship will be carrying out survey work in the Middle East until May next year, building on the successes of sister ship HMS Echo which discovered numerous wrecks and obstacles during a 19-month deployment to the same region.

As well as helping to update some of the 3,300-plus Admiralty Charts which are used by many of the world’s seafarers (including the Royal Navy), HMS Enterprise will also support the wider international naval effort to prevent piracy and other criminal activities in the Indian Ocean and its environs.

Published 11 December 2012