Eastbourne’s ‘Unknown Wreck’ is now identified

The name of a sunken wreck found in the English Channel has been revealed more than 350 years after it was sunk.

Until now, the 17thcentur y ship, which lies 105ft down, was known only as the ‘Unknown Wreck off Eastbourne’ but has now been confirmed that the remains are that of the 44-gun Dutch warship Klein Hollandia.

The 1656-built vessel was involved in ever y major battle of the Second Anglo-Dutch War and was sunk in the ‘Action of 12 March 1672’, when an English squadron led by Sir Robert Holmes and Sir Frescheville Holles engaged the Smyrna Convoy.

Comprising more than 60 vessels escorted by five Dutch warships, the convoy sailed from the Mediterranean to the Netherlands and came under attack as it passed the Isle of Wight. The Klein Hollandia’s commander, Jan Van Nes, was killed and his ship taken as a prize, but it floundered with English and Dutch sailors aboard. E xcluding the Hollandia and four merchantmen, the convoy escaped under the cover of its escorts. The action contributed to the start of the Third Anglo-Dutch War.

The first indication of the wreck’s location came when an anomaly was noticed during a 2015 hydrographic survey, but it wasn’t until 2019 that David Ronnan discovered the wreck and reported it to Historic England. Him and Mark Beattie-Edwards of the Nautical Archaeology Society are now the wreck licensees.

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