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Keywords:

  • protected wreck;
  • sustainability;
  • Isle of Wight;
  • European cultural heritage;
  • Agenda 21;
  • coastal management

Assurance, a British warship of 44 guns, was lost on the Needles of Wight, UK, in 1753. Pomone, a British 5th rate 38-gun frigate of the Leda class, followed in 1811. Designated a‘protected wreck’ in 1975 this multi-period site was investigated under a UK Government licence. Despite her total disintegration, Pomone left artefact scatters attesting to her size, character, resting position and evidence of her cabin plan. This archaeological evidence is compared with two surviving sister ships, and the presumption of incomprehensible 'scrambling’ on Muckelroy Class 5 wreck sites is robustly challenged. The licencee reviews the organization and methodology of 25 years of licenced activity on this site and concludes that the UK policy of promoting invasive investigation of historic shipwrecks cannot be readily reconciled with the principles of sustainability which are now embodied in European Agenda 21.