After Germany was defeated in the First World War, 74 of its warships were confined at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands pending a decision on their future.

On 21 June 1919 German Rear Admiral Ludwig Von Reuter gave the order to deliberately sink or scuttle the ships to prevent them falling into British hands.

Most of the scuttled vessels were salvaged, but some of them, now rusted and covered in barnacles, remain on the seabed. Reuters photographer Nigel Roddis visited the Orkneys and joined divers in Scapa Flow to photograph the wrecks. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One.

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A diver illuminates a gun on the deck of SMS Cöln, a German WWI warship scuttled at Scapa FlowNigel Roddis / Reuters
SMS Cln Scapa Flow
SMS Cöln was launched in October 1916 and scuttled at Scapa Flow on June 21, 1919 under orders from fleet commander Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter
scapa flow SMS Karlsruhe
A diver illuminates a gun on the deck of SMS Karlsruhe, a German WWI warship scuttled at Scapa Flow on on 21 June 1919Nigel Roddis / Reuters
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SMS Karlsruhe is pictured in Scapa Flow 1919Imperial War Museum
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An aerial view of Scapa Flow and the Orkney Islands, ScotlandNigel Roddis / Reuters
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A map showing the location of Scapa Flow and the Orkney Islands, ScotlandGoogle
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Gary Gibson, whose mother Peggy witnessed the Grand Scuttle, reads a newspaper account of the day at home in the Orkney Islands. Peggy and her sisters witnessed the event while they were on a school tripNigel Roddis / Reuters
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A poppy memorial for leading seaman Elias Dymock who died on HMS Vanguard, is displayed at the Lyness museum on the island of Hoy in the Orkney Islands. On July 9, 1917, an accidental explosion destroyed HMS Vanguard, killing over 800 menNigel Roddis / Reuters
HMS Vanguard
HMS Vanguard sank after an explosion on 9 July 1917 at Scapa Flow, killing an estimated 804 men, with only two survivors
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The graves of 13 German sailors who died in the Grand Scuttle stand in Lyness Naval cemetery on the Orkney IslandsNigel Roddis / Reuters
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June 1919: German sailors put up their hands after they scuttled their ship the SMS Nürnberg at Scapa FlowGetty
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A memorial to Lord Kitchener, who died when the HMS Hampshire hit a German mine on June 5, 1916, is seen at Marwick Head on the Orkney Islands. Kitchener was on a diplomatic mission to Russia when the Hampshire sank with the loss of over 600Nigel Roddis / Reuters

Scapa Flow also played a crucial role in the Second World War, as the main British naval base.

This time it was the British deliberately sinking ships, known as 'blockships', to block the path of German U-Boats in the North Sea.

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Divers explore inside the Tabarka, deliberately sunk during WWII to try and block the path of German U-Boats in Burra Sound, in the Orkney IslandsNigel Roddis / Reuters
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A diver swims past the boilers of the upturned blockship Tabarka in Burra Sound, in the Orkney Islands, Scotland. Tabarka was deliberately sunk during WWII to try and block the path of German U-BoatsNigel Roddis / Reuters
scapa flow Italian chapel
The Italian chapel is seen on the Orkney Islands. During WWII, Italian prisoners of war were used to build what is known as the Churchill barriers, four stone causeways that link some of the islands. An Italian prisoner Domenico Chiocchetti, built what is known as the Italian chapel from one of the huts at the prisoner of war campNigel Roddis / Reuters
scapa flow Italian chapel
The interior of the Italian chapel, built by Italian prisoner-of-war Domenico ChiocchettiNigel Roddis / Reuters