The remains on the seabed are that of T9044, a Mk1 Short Sunderland flying boat. The aircraft is designated under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1989 as a Protected Place and by Milford Haven Harbour Authority as a Controlled Site within the harbour limits. An exclusion zone prohibits any diving, fishing or mooring activity within 100m centred on 51 42.2N 04 57.2W. The site is stewarded by The Pembroke Dock Sunderland Trust (PDST) and the Pembroke Dock Sunderland Trust Diving Group (BSAC branch 2454).
Two-thirds of the hull is buried in the sandy seabed, helping to preserve the structure. The aircraft lies in 16-18m depth of water. The fuselage is intact to the mid-section of the tail. The tall tail fin is broken, but the rear gun turret remains intact. A marine geophysical survey undertaken by Wessex Archaeology during April-May 2010 pinpointed 14 objects/anomalies in close vicinity to the wreck. Two of four Bristol Pegasus XXII radial engines have already been recovered for conservation, restoration and display. A Vickers K m/c gun was recovered in September 2013 along with part of the Plexiglas from the front gun turret. Other parts recovered and passed to the PDST include the Astrodome and cockpit controls.
Event and Historical Information:
The aircraft had been in service for only two months with 210 Squadron and had flown 14 operation missions from Oban and Pembroke Dock, when it which sank at its moorings during a gale in November 1940. The development of the Sunderland began as a request from the Air Ministry in 1933 for a new marine reconnaissance flying boat to replace the Short Singapore Mk III. Short Brothers designer, Sir Arthur Gouge, was already designing a new civil transport flying-boat (the S.23 C Class Empire Flying Boat), and he submitted a military variant with a 37mm Coventry Ordnance Works gun in a bow cockpit or turret and a single Lewis machine-gun in the tail in 1934. The design was changed in production to have a Vickers gas-operated machine gun in the Nash and Thompson FN.11 nose turret and four Browning 0.303in (7.7mm) machine gun in a FN.13 hydraulic tail turret. The first prototype, K4774, was flown on 16 October 1937 on the River Medway, Kent. The first Sunderland in service was L2159 which was ferried out to 230 Squadron based at Seletar, Singapore. Squadrons 10, 204, 210 and 228 received MK1 aircraft for service in the UK. Some seventy five MK 1s were built by Short and by the Denny shipyard, Dumbarton. In late 1941, production switched to the MKII with Pegasus XVIII engines with two speed-super chargers, a twin Browning machine gun in the nose turret , two more Brownings in a FN7 dorsal turrent and four Brownings in a FN4A tail turret. Other improvements were made during the war eventually resulted in final form, the Mk V. In August 1945, outstanding orders for the MK V were cancelled and the last Sunderland was produced at Belfast in June 1946. The last of the RAF's Sunderlands was retired from service in 1959.
Eden, P (ed), 2007, The Encyclopaedia of Aircraft of WWII, pg 442-5
Halley, J J, 1981, Royal Air Force Aircraft T1000-T9999, pg56
Receiver of Wreck Droits Database 2007 RCIM6/2/5
Sims, P E, 2000, Adventurous Empires: The Story of the Short Empire flying boats.
Wessex Archaeology, 2010, Wrecks off the Coast of Wales: Marine Geophysical Surveys and Interpretation, Report Ref: 53111.02-5, pg42, WA ID 7040
Maritime Officer, RCAHMW, November 2013.