Online auction of four German wrecks in Scapa Flow to close on Monday

One of the ships listed on eBay
One of the ships listed on eBay

The online auction of four German warships scuttled in the waters off Orkney a century ago is approaching an end.

The vessels, three battleships and one light cruiser, sit under on the seabed of Scapa Flow and were first listed for sale on the auction site eBay last month.

Potential buyers have until July 8 to lodge their bids.

Their current owner, retired Tayside diving contractor Tommy Clark, had acquired them from a defunct salvage company and intends to sell them to the highest bidder.

Mr Clark said he has been so far “delighted at the level of interest” in the “magnificent ships.”

He added: “I am hopeful that any new owner will recognise the historical significance of the ships and be supportive of their continued preservation, recreational diving activities and the associated benefits the wrecks bring to the Orkney Islands community”.

The ships – the Markgraf, Karlsruhe, Konig and Kronprinz Wilhelm – sank after being scuttled by their crews, who were given the order to do so by an admiral who didn’t want the ships falling into Allied hands.

Nine German sailors lost their lives in the events of June 21 1919, the final recorded deaths of the First World War.

At the time of writing, the battleships had each reached bids of around £25,000, with the cruiser at around £10,000.

Andrew Crawford, an agent for Mr Clark, said: “We have received enquiries from people looking at all sorts of opportunities for the ships. Probably the most unusual was an artist looking to create an underwater art gallery.

“A number of divers have been in touch, some dive operators considering recreational diving opportunities and other divers looking to establish items of a collectable nature they could potentially recover.

“We have had an enquiry from a research institute looking to recover small volumes of low background steel and we have also had a number of enquiries from companies looking to perform salvage operations.”

Salvaging the vessels is highly unlikely as the wrecks are scheduled monuments.

But the contents of the wrecks have piqued potential buyers’ interests, with valuable historic diving gear still on board.

Mr Crawford added: “It has been reported that each of the battleships would have been equipped with approximately 10 sets of diving gear, with the hard-hat diving helmets being of considerable value especially given their history.

“Of course any prospective purchaser would need to satisfy themselves that the items they consider to be of value are located on the ships and that they would be able to obtain the necessary permissions to recover them.”

Little is known about the bidders so far, other than one from the Middle East who aims to set up a diver training scheme in Scapa Flow.

The ships are listed on eBay at: