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Craig Forrest

This chapter seeks to illustrate the stock of wrecked vessels, aircraft and objects that comprises the sunken legacy of WWI by setting the losses in their historical context. The chapter does not attempt a history of the war at sea but does focus on the historical contexts that affect the way in which various legacy wrecks are viewed and the values that they embody. The chapter introduces the combatant States; the geographical extent of the naval engagements; the nature of the battling fleets; the involvement of the merchant fleet; and the rate and extent of losses, particularly human losses.

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Craig Forrest

WWI has left a vast, dispersed and distinctive physical legacy - particularly rich in wrecks. This chapter considers how we should value this legacy today in the context also of how this legacy was valued in the past, and whether those past values can be reconciled with emerging values. These values have changed over time, and where once these wrecks were looked on as merely a hazard or as a source of scrap metal, their historical and archaeological value has emerged. That many of these legacy wrecks entomb the remains of their crew or are associated with the loss of lives with the sinking, and should thus be treated with the respect and the sanctity they deserve as a ‘maritime war grave’ or memorial, is perhaps the strongest emerging value.

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Craig Forrest

This chapter introduces the legal framework applicable to wrecks, including, but especially, legacy wrecks. This involves a complex interaction between private law, particularly property law, admiralty law and international law. Importantly, it considers in some detail the constitutional framework contained in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC) within which many matters affecting legacy wrecks are addressed. It is an evolving legal seascape that has adapted to these changing values, but to different degrees and at different speeds in various States. As wrecks of a world war, of different nationalities and lying in waters of different States, their future is dependent on a uniform body of law applied by all States; a role that international law seeks to fulfil.

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Craig Forrest

This chapter considers the application of salvage law to legacy wrecks. For over a century this body of admiralty law has been applied to legacy wrecks. During that time the rationale for salvage has changed, as have the values legacy wrecks imbue. What has not changed much - at least in the UK - is the legal regime that regulates the salvage of legacy wrecks. The chapter addresses the continued and problematic application of salvage law to the recovery of legacy wrecks. Indeed, it is argued that the application of salvage law to legacy wrecks poses the greatest threat to this finite resource and fails to meet the values contemporary society ascribed to legacy wrecks.

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Craig Forrest

Chapter 5 considers the threats posed by legacy wrecks, as a navigational hazard, a pollution hazard and a threat to health and safety given the munitions and dangerous cargo that may have been aboard the legacy wreck when it sank. The legal regimes that apply to the elimination of such hazards in territorial waters and those that pose a threat to a State but lie beyond its territorial waters is explained and explored. The chapter considers the approach taken to these wrecks where the wreck has no commercial salvage value, and thus is not addressed directly through traditional admiralty law of salvage, or where the legacy value prevents salvage, but necessitates addressing the hazard.

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Craig Forrest

A great many legacy wrecks of WWI have historical and archaeological value. This chapter considers the evolution of the laws that recognise and protect these values, especially the UK’s Protection of Wrecks Act 1973. This was largely prompted by increasing unregulated salvage and the rise in sports diving. As access to these wrecks reached into international waters, so the need to address this in international law grew. The chapter considers the legal response to this growth and especially the resulting Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage adopted at UNESCO in 2001.

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Craig Forrest

An emerging value of legacy wrecks is there use as memorials and the recognition of many legacy wrecks as maritime war graves. This chapter considers the nature of war memorials and the possible role that legacy wrecks might play in the evolving memorialisation of WWI. It also addresses the vexed question of recognising and protecting maritime war graves, and the attempts made to protect legacy wrecks, especially by the UK through the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.

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Craig Forrest

This chapter argues that the best way to protect legacy wrecks is for the UK to ratify the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. This argument is underpinned by a consideration of the UK UNESCO 2001 Convention Review Group 2014 Report and the Institute of International Law’s 2015 Resolution, and re-evaluates the UK’s negotiating position and explanation of its abstention of vote at UNESCO in 2001.

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Craig Forrest

This short concluding chapter reviews the current position of legacy wrecks as addressed in the book and looks to the UK to lead the world in the protection of legacy wrecks.

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Maritime Legacies and the Law

Effective Legal Governance of WWI Wrecks

Craig Forrest

The recent centenary of WWI has prompted a shift in the way attention is focused on legacy shipwrecks. This timely book considers the development of the laws that apply to these wrecks and the issues that surround them, and deftly analyses the adequacy of the existing legal framework to fulfil its promise of protecting legacy wrecks for future generations as historical and archaeological resources, memorials and, most importantly, as maritime war graves.