Deep beneath the waves she has lain lost for 70 years, her carcass gathering rust long after she braved the bombs of Dunkirk. But today the remarkable story of HMS Snaefell can finally be told after a group of divers located her, off the North East coast.
The paddle steamer, which saw service as a minesweeper in both the First and Second World Wars, was bombed and sank in 1941, and all trace was lost.
That is until Allan Lopez of North Shields, skipper of the Spellbinder II, came across the forgotten wreck.
He said: “We kept it a secret for a bit. We have been opening up a lot of new wrecks and have found quite a lot over the last few years.
“HMS Snaefell was one of the last boats away with survivors from Dunkirk. The wreck was supposed to be somewhere off Whitley Bay.”
Brent Hudson, 40, of County Durham, was among the team of eight divers from the Silent Running Dive Team to come across the wreckage eight miles off the coast of Sunderland.
“Paddle steamers are very rare ships. When one of the divers reported he had seen paddles we did not believe him.
“When we went down a second time we could clearly see them and we knew this was something special,” he said.