Aircraft Crash Sites at Sea

Wessex Archaeology, 2008

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Introduction

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Wessex Archaeology have been funded by English Heritage through the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund to undertake a scoping study to identify current gaps in data and understanding relating to aircraft crash sites at sea. The study arises partly out of the discovery of aircraft parts and associated human remains as a result of marine aggregate dredging.

The number of known aircraft crash sites on the seabed as recorded by the National Monuments Record, local Sites and Monuments Records and Historic Environment Records implies that the UK's current known resource is relatively small. Despite this, the favourable preservation offered by marine environments and the recent discoveries of aircraft crash sites made by the marine industry and in particular, the marine aggregate dredging industry suggest a much larger resource potential. A discussion of these discrepancies between the known and potential resource is included within the report.

In response to the high potential for aircraft crash sites on the seabed, a number of recommendations are put forward concerning their consideration with regards to both research and management agendas. It is proposed that existing national and local monument records are enhanced in respect of aircraft crash sites, and that a more detailed a specific national research agenda for aviation archaeology be established. The Joint Compassionate Centre and the British Aviation Archaeology Council is encouraged to continue to promote and improve the basic standards of archaeological reporting and recording amongst Protection of Military Remains Act licence holders. A method of risk assessing aircraft crash sites based on research undertaken in a number of areas is also suggested.

With regards to management agendas, it is proposed that additional archaeological and heritage management guidance specific to aircraft crash sites be prepared for all sectors of the marine industry that may impact upon aircraft crash sites. A draft interim guidance for the marine aggregate industry on dealing with aircraft crash sites is included as an Appendix in the report.