What is The Shipwreck Project?

Dolly and torpedo collection

The Shipwreck Project is a not-for-profit organisation. Our aim is to engage people in learning about our maritime heritage, becoming actively involved in discovering more about it and protecting it for future generations to enjoy.

Originally the vision of  founder Grahame Knott, The Shipwreck Project was established as an educational Community Interest Company by Grahame and current chairman Richard Bright-Paul in 2014. Our main focus is the discovery, research, exploration protection of our maritime history and heritage. It is not just what lies at the bottom of the sea that interests us, we have a very broad range of projects on the go at any one time, so there is something here for everyone to get involved in.

Dive team and bell

What Do We Do?

It might have been easier here to list the things we don’t do. Here is a very small selection of the things we’ve been doing recently:

Castletown torpedo donation

Torpedo collection rescue and restoration

Probably one of our maddest  ventures to date, but something we felt passionate about doing and is ultimately proving to be a really great advert for what The Shipwreck Project is all about. A year ago Grahame and Shipwreck Project members saved a collection of torpedoes and associated equipment from being lost and scrapped

Dolly Vaden and her owners, old and new

Rescuing the famous Solent racing yacht, Dolly Varden, from imminent destruction

The phone rang one day, and an incredible adventure began. One that involves muddy farm fields, big cranes, a couple of lorries, and is turning out to be quite a remarkable story. So remarkable that Dolly is now being fully restored by the geniuses who ply their trade in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard Boathouse 4

Wey Chieftain IV Dartmouth bound


Of course we dive, in fact if we didn’t there wouldn’t be much to tell you. Not only do we have a great bunch of divers involved in The Shipwreck Project we even have one of the best dive vessels on the South coast at our disposal. If you’re interested in diving, but feel you’ve exhausted the list of well known dives, then we might just have that little bit of extra excitement you’re looking for

Coastal Guardian in Portland Marina

Work alongside experts to locate, research and protect our maritime heritage

We are thrilled to be working with partners such as Wessex Archaeology and Historic England on the discovery, research and protection of a number of historically important sites in our area.

Sea Vixen Sonar mark

Locating long forgotten aircraft

It isn’t just shipwrecks that we’re locating and investigating, the area has had it’s fair share of incredible stories involving aircraft being lost at sea

Just About Dorset Issue 2 Page 24

Write articles and features for publications

We have had many articles published in various magazines and news sources. We have started to collate them on a page so you can keep up to date with things that we’ve committed to print

Where Are We Based?

Dorset, South Dorset to be precise, home of some of the most beautiful coastline in the British Isles. While out at sea we can take in a number of breathtaking sights, such as Old Harry Rocks to the east near Swanage. Further west we have the unmistakable Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. Continuing on you pass by Osmington and along the fabulous Georgian seafront at Weymouth. Then the fun begins and you have Portland Harbour, one of the largest man-made harbours in the world, followed by the rugged and ragged coast of the Isle of Portland itself. If you survive the treachorous Portland Race you’re treated to more spectacular cliffs along the west coast of Portland and then you come to one of the most unmistakable sights on the planet. The awe inspiring and staggeringly beautiful Chesil Beach that stretches 18 miles to the west and is the final resting place of hundreds of ships.

How Can I Get Involved?

Roll your sleeves up and dive in. Really, it’s that simple. Whether you’re a diver interested in exploring unknown targets which could be as-yet-unknown wrecks, a bookworm with an avid love of delving through archives, or simply somebody who wants to support and engage in cutting-edge research into our maritime history, The Shipwreck Project is for you. We are a passionate bunch, about maritime heritage and history, about our local area, about protecting heritage for future generations to enjoy and most importantly we’re passionate about enjoying every aspect of what we do. If none of that appeals to you, then believe me, the BBQs onboard our shipwreck hunting vessel Coastal Guardian definitely should. We believe that as well as putting every effort into our maritime heritage and history, we should have fun doing so and we certainly try and do so by organising many social events where those of us with hair can really let it down for the evening.

Thanks To Our Supporters

Locating, researching and investigating things at the bottom of the sea is not an easy task. Or cheap. We are eternally grateful to a number of supporters who have contributed not only their time, effort and equipment, but really without them we would struggle to do what we do. In no particular order, we’d like to offer our gratitude to our wonderful and eclectic array of supporters below:

  • Deep3D by Simon Brown
  • JG Technologies Ltd
  • c-max sonar
  • Agisoft
  • The Dolmen
  • OrcaLight