Association Wreck Gets Official Protected Status

HMS AssociationDivers wanting to visit one of Scilly’s most famous shipwrecks will need a licence in the future, following the award of special status to the site last Friday.

The remains of the HMS Association have been designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act.

The wreck of the Association was discovered back in 1967 and it’s surprising it hasn’t been protected earlier.

Terry Newman, English Heritage’s Assistant Designation Officer says it was one of only four vessels of its type, built in the late 1690’s, so it’s historically very important.

And its wreck, along with three other navy vessels, and the loss of over 2,000 sailors, eventually led to the introduction of more accurate ways to measure longitude.

The new designation was the result of a review by English Heritage of all ships predating 1840.

Visits to the site will now be controlled by licences issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which can be obtained for free from English Heritage.

They’ll allow different levels of access, from a simple “look but don’t touch” trip through to a full survey.

But Terry admits the system is difficult to police, especially for wrecks located out of sight and away from shore.

He says it’s not intended to stop people visiting the site, but it will allow English Heritage to monitor the area to ensure the artefacts aren’t disturbed.