This is an almost land locked area of deep water, up to 10 m. wide, which the British Government decided in 1912 should be adapted as the main base of the Grand Fleet in case of a European War, and substantial Royal Navy establishments were for many years subsequently an important aspect of Orkney‘s economy.
But the defences were penetrated by a German submarine in 1914, and they did not become virtually impregnable until, after another German U-boat had sunk H.M.S. Royal Oak on 14 October 1939, only ﬁve Weeks after the outbreak of the Second World War, Winston Churchill ordered the construction of the Churchill Barriers Here also, at the end of the First World War, the German Navy having surrendered to the Allies, sailed in their ﬂeet and scuttled or beached the ships before they could be taken over. Now the main traffic on this beautiful stretch of sheltered water consists of ships and ferries plying between Kirkwall, Stromness and the other islands and Scotland, and the variegated ﬂeet engaged on oil business.
- Scapa Flow Latitude Geolocation 58.9000° N Longitude -3.0500° W
- Scapa Flow Postcode KW16
- Scapa Flow WOEID 34155
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Scapa Flow is a large protected sea area that has earned its name in British history as an important naval base in both world wars.
It contains Flotta, now an oil tanker terminal and landfall for undersea pipelines from the oilfields of the North Sea to the east. Scapa saw some 74 warships, the greater part of the German fleet, brought here and either beached by their crews or scuttled in June 1919 on the orders of RearAdmiral Ludwig von Reuter.
Many of the ships have since been salvaged. Others remain as an attractive underwater prey for divers on the hunt for souvenirs or just to satisfy curiosity. In the Second world war, huge convoys of ships gathered here before being escorted across the seas to Russia and to America.
In an attempt to close off the eastern approaches to Scapa Flow, the massive Churchill Barriers were erected in the 1940s, mainly by Italian prisoners of war. A reminder of their stay in Orkney is seen on the little island of Lamb Holm where, inside two Nissen huts, the Italians constructed a beautiful chapel, using scrap materials with a high degree of ingenuity. The chapel was rededicated in 1960 when the designer, Domenico Chiocchcui, a gifted artist, returned to restore some of his paintings.