Research Ship that Found Famous WWII Wrecks Damaged in Scotland Dry Dock, Several Injured

March 22, 2023 1:17 PM - Updated: March 22, 2023 1:41 PM
R/V Petrel on its side in a Scotland dry dock on March 22, 2023. Photo Via Twitter

A Navy research vessel tipped over while in dry dock in Edinburgh Wednesday, according to local reports.

R/V Petrel appeared to tip about 45 degrees while in dry dock in the Imperial Dock in Leith, Edinburgh, according to the newspaper The Independent. The paper reported 21 people were taken to the hospital with injuries with another 12 treated at the dock and released.

Petrel dislodged from the dry dock a Scotland police spokesperson told The Independent.

The research vessel had been owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen until his death in 2018. After Allen’s death in 2018, the ocean discovery group he founded called Vulcan continued until 2020.

“As a result of operational challenges from the pandemic, R/V Petrel will be placed into long-term moorage and she will not be deployed for the foreseeable future. We were tasked with a monumental mission — discover, educate, and honor — and we’re hopeful we will eventually be back in service”. Robert Kraft, subsea director, said in a June 2020 message, “I am proud of the successful Petrel missions that have brought information and closure to so many families and friends of WWII heroes. I am hopeful that Petrel will eventually be back in service, supporting the collection of ocean data and science,”

Following the announcement, Allen’s estate began liquidating the oceanographic assets from Vulcan. Petrel was laid up in Scotland until the Navy bought the ship in September for $12.4 million – far below the market value for the vessel.

Exploring the wreck where it rests 5,000 m below the surface. Vulcan photo.

Petrel, under Allen’s ownership and then parent company Vulcanwas used in a number of research missions to find ship and aircraft wreckages. The ship was part of the team that discovered the wreckage of the first Japanese ship sunk by the U.S. in World War II, as well as U.S. Navy destroyer USS Johnson and carrier USS Wasp.

Perhaps the ship’s most famous discovery was the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis in 2017 – one of the last U.S. ships to be sunk in World War II.

Naval Sea Systems Command did not immediately respond to a call for comment.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
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