Britains first WWI merchant wreck set to become marine reserve after amateur diver

first_imgAlthough the wreck is off-limits to tourist divers, the government has allowed fishing rights in the area, which could be causing the reduction in marine life.  Since then, he has led two Royal Geographical Society expeditions to the islands. Christopher Lees, an amateur diver whose grandfather Alan was the ship’s radio operator, also joined the team.However, a more recent dive revealed that marine life on the wreck has been depleted and Mr Dover has appealed to the Omani government to prevent human disturbance of the wreck and the marine species that live there. The City of Winchester, pictured, was the first British merchant vessel to be sunk by the German Navy during World War One.Credit:Paul Fearn/Alamy Stock Photo Mr Dover wants to establish a 25-mile ‘No Take Zone’ around the islands, which would ban fishing altogether. Alan Lees, the radio operator of the City of Winchester, whose grandson Christopher joined an expedition to see the wreck. The City of Winchester Alan Lees, the radio operator of the City of Winchester Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. An amateur scuba diver who bought a First World War-era British merchant shipwreck for £1 in the 1990s is planning to turn it into a protected area for marine wildlife.Steve Dover discovered the wreck of the merchant ship the City of Winchester while scuba diving off the coast of Oman’s Hallaniyat Islands.The ship was the first British merchant vessel to be sunk during the First World War. Crew members had left before a German light cruiser shelled it in 1914, sending its cargo of tea and antlers to the ocean floor.In 1998, the Omani government agreed to sell the wreck to Mr Dover, allowing him to take expeditions of scuba divers to see the Arabian humpback whales and dolphins that congregated in the man-made reef.“It was the most exciting moment in life, to have found it,” Mr Dover told the BBC. “We were hugging each other, dancing around the prop, the propellor at the bottom of the rudder.”last_img read more