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Map ReferenceSH98NE
Grid ReferenceSH9666489855
Unitary (Local) AuthorityMaritime
Old CountyMaritime
Type Of SiteWRECK
PeriodPost Medieval
This site was designated as a Historic Wreck under Protections of Wrecks Act 1973 (Designation No 1, 1996) on 6 July 1996. The protected area around the wreck is a radius of 300m from the co-ordinate 53 23.78N 03 33.18W. Diving or any interference including filming, survey and excavation within the protected area of a designated wreck is a criminal offence, unless a license has first been obtained from the Welsh Government. Cadw should be contacted in the first instance. Http://

This early small submarine has a distinctive cylindrical shape with a cone-shaped bow and stern. The central section is clad in teak held in place with large iron bands. A large boiler and Lamm-type steam engine fills the midships section. An initial assessment of the site suggested that the submarine was originally buried in the seabed bow down. An alternative theory suggested by the large hole in the submarine's bow, is that the submarine may have sunk stern first and become almost entirely buried until it was snagged by the anchor of a large vessel. Although substantially intact, the wreck appears to have received a massive impact which wrenched it from its resting place and moved it 8m to lie on its starboard side. The wreck was discovered at the end of a scour suggesting that it had been dragged across the seabed. The lower part of the central wooden cladding still lies embedded up to 2m in the seabed in the vessel's original position. The impact is likely to have dislodged the diving planes, and there is also a considerable dent in the conning tower where the coaming is also bent inwards. The submarine has been fitted with sacrificial anodes to slow down corrosion. Banks of sand are recorded as building up along the sides. Marine life is abundant, with submarine itself encrusted with white and orange plumose anemones.

Event and Historical Information:
The RESURGAM was an experimental craft built in 1879 by Reverend George William Garrett. A year earlier, he had set up the Garrett Sub-Marine Navigation and Pneumatophore Company Ltd. His ideas sprung from an event in the Russian-Turkish war of 1877, where the need for a vessel that could go under protective chain netting to destroy warships was identified. The Royal Navy requested a prototype and his first design knick-named `The Egg' was tested in Liverpool Docks in July 1878. The success of the trial led him to build the RESURGAM. The vessel was built by J T Cochrane at the Britannia Ironworks, Birkenhead, for a cost of £1538. It was launched on 26 November 1879. During the test in Birkenhead Docks, Garrett claimed the vessel had dived to 150ft (45m) and travelled at speeds of 2 knots (2.3 miles/3.7km per hour). The steam generated by the boiler was designed to give a dive duration of some 16-19km (10-12 miles) at a speed of 2-3 knots.
On 10 December 1879, the RESURGAM left Birkenhead for naval trials at Portsmouth under its own power but only got as far as Rhyl. After repairs, RESURGAM set out again with Garrett employing the steam yacht ELFIN (see NPRN 271168) to tow the vessel to Gosport. The ELFIN's engines failed and Rev George Garret and his fellow crew members, engineer George Price and Captain W. E. Jackson, boarded the ELFIN whilst repairs to the yacht were carried out. The weather worsened and the following day (24 February 1880), the towing cable between yacht and submarine broke. The submarine subsequently foundered because it could not be sealed unless by a crew member inside.
The search for the RESURGAM began in the 1960s when a yachtsman reported striking a large cylindrical object off Rhyl. In the 1990s, William Garrett, great grandson of the inventor funded a high tech remote sensing survey. The final discovery was made in 1996. In 1997, a large collaborative project gathered information to inform the decision making for the future of the site. The task was tackled by the Archaeological Diving Unit from the University of St Andrews working with William Garrett and nearly 100 volunteers co-ordinated by the Nautical Archaeology Society. The survey recorded the condition of the hull, the marine life colonising the submersible, and searched the seabed for debris. The possibility of raising the submarine has been explored using the HOLLAND I at Gosport as a comparable object. The wreck was the subject of programme of Channel 4's Wreck Detectives series in 2004.

Sources include:
Fenwick, V and Gale, A, 1999, Historic Shipwrecks: Discovered, Protected, and Investigated, Tempus Publishing, pg143-144.
Murphy, W, 1987, The Life of Reverend George Garrett Pasha. Father of the Submarine, Willian Kimber and Company.
Wynne-Jones, I, 2001, Shipwrecks of North Wales, 4ed, pg 127-130.

Maritime Officer, RCAHMW, 23 August 2007
application/pdfAENT - Archaeological Reports/Evaluations (non Trust)Designated Site Assessment Report, Ref No. 53111.03ss, on the Resurgam designated wreck site, Rhyl, North Wales, produced by Wessex Archaeology. Includes copies of engineers' plans , CD of digital versions of report, and copies of photographs.