Built in 1914 by Smiths Dock Co of Hull, the Lancer II was originally a steam
fishing trawler. It was requisitioned by the Royal Navy. During WW1 there was a large
programme of purchasing trawlers to provide a cheap anti submarine, minesweeping
and patrol services. Many trawlers were purchased and converted. The Royal Navy settled on three standard designs.
Mersey, Castle and the Strath. The Lancer II fall into the smaller Strath
design. Light armament were supplied. The Mersey's, Castles
and Strath's all carried one gun. It's three-cylinder triple-expansion engine produced 65hp
using a single boiler. The Royal Navy had equipped it with one 6lb gun.
It was 2.20am, on the 18th July 1918, when the yacht HM Vagrant sailing without lights, ran into the Lancer II. It was heading for Newhaven and was just off the area of the Brighton Light vessel. The impact made a hole in the Lancer II and she immediately started to take in water. The Vagrant made a vain attempt to tow her, but the Lancer II's fate was sealed.
The visibility can be poor at 2m, but on a good visibility easily exceeded 8m, so it is worth persevering. It is a good dive and the wreck still looks very ship-like. The vessel stands upright - the bow is its tallest feature and is surprisingly intact. Inside is much fish life with numerous small windows and hatchways, allowing light to enter the interior. Moving from the forward section towards the midships region, you pass the ship's winch. The wreck is covered in deadmen's fingers. Heading for the stern, lobster can be found hiding among the steel debris. Still further on towards the stern the boiler can be located.
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