OAP diver died in Orkney after being struck by boat propellor while exploring warship

Paul Smith, 70, died while diving in Scapa Flow, Orkney (ARCHIVE IMAGE)
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A pensioner who died while exploring a wrecked warship in Orkney was "almost certainly" killed by being struck by a boat propellor.

Paul Smith, from the Greater Manchester area, was out exploring the wreck of German battleship SMS Markgraf with two diving boats last September when he sadly lost his life.

An investigation into the 70-year-old's tragic death found he had halted to carry out a decompression stop when he was struck by the rotating propellor of the support boat Karin around 10m below the surface.

The probe was launched by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and, several months on, a safety bulletin has been released with a number of recommendations made.

Safety issues that were flagged include having an effective lookout at all times while a vessel is underway when operating near people in the water, such as around dive boats is necessary.

There is also a need for detailed and frequent communication between operators when multiple boats intend to operate in the same area, this coordination is crucial to ensure deconfliction and prevent accidents.

A safety bulletin released on June 27 from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch reads: "On the morning of September 28, 2023, a recreational diver carrying out decompression stops died, almost certainly as a result of being struck by the rotating propeller of the UK registered diving support boat Karin.

"The diver had been diving from a second dive boat that was also supporting divers exploring the wreck of the German battleship SMS Markgraf, which was lying at a depth of 45m in Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands, Scotland."

The investigation continues.

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