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German warships lying on Orkney seabed being sold on eBay

Rusting relics from First World War were bought in 1981 and have combined £1m price tag.

Rusting: Ships sold on seabed.
Rusting: Ships sold on seabed. SWNS

Four wrecked German warships that have been lying on the Orkney seabed since the First World War have been put up for sale on eBay for a combined price of nearly £1m.

The rusting relics are being sold by a diving contractor who bought them in 1981, and the auction website advert boasts that if the new owner bought all four wrecks they would "have a sizeable naval fleet amongst the largest in the world".

Dreadnoughts SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm, SMS Konig and SMS Markgraf are on the market for £250,000 each and the cruiser SMS Karlsruhe is selling for £60,000.

Ebay: Ship being sold.
Ebay: Ship being sold. SWNS

The ships were part of the German High Seas Fleet, which was famously scuttled at Scapa Flow, Stromness, in 1919.

While interned at the site in the Orkney Islands, the ships were disarmed and reduced to skeleton crews while the allied powers finalised the Treaty of Versailles.

The scuttling was carried out on June 21, 1919 on the orders of Admiral Ludwig von Reuter to prevent allied forces seizing the ships after Germany's defeat in the conflict, and 52 of the 74 vessels sank.

Many of the wrecks were salvaged over the next two decades and towed away for scrapping, but the seven that remain today have become popular with divers.

Bargain: Ship on sale for £250,000.
Bargain: Ship on sale for £250,000. SWNS/Ebay

Prospective buyers now have the chance to buy some of the historical vessels, which are protected as official scheduled monuments.

Battleship SMS Markgraf, listed for sale on eBay for £250,000, is the most well preserved of the remaining scuttled fleet and lies at a depth of 45 metres,

Current owner Thomas Clark, 70, has retired and hopes the ships will be taken on by someone with a vision for their future.

The Tayside-based diving contractor bought them from a salvage firm in 1981.

Mr Clark said: "It has been an absolute pleasure to own and dive on these iconic vessels and I regret I have not managed to do more with them during the period of my ownership.

Warship: Wreckage on the seabed.
Warship: Wreckage on the seabed.

"I look forward to passing them on to the new owner and hope they get the opportunity to realise their aspirations for the vessels."

Currently recreational divers are allowed to access the waterspace around the wrecks, but are not permitted to touch, enter or to go within one metre of them.

New owners would have the right to dive on the ships, including touching and entering, and would also be able to reclaim items from within - subject to gaining the necessary permissions from the heritage body Historic Environment Scotland.

The total purchase price for all four would be just under £810,000, including VAT.

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