John Cobb's Crusader Found by The Loch Ness Project

The Loch Ness Project lnp new index

Home Archive Room
Loch Ness
Adrian Shine

Loch Ness

Loch Ness Project's Search for Crusader
2000 - 2019

On September 29 1952 John Cobb
, the famous Brooklands racing hero, holder of many speed records, died after his boat Crusader disintegrated after hitting a boat-wake during a world water speed record attempt on Loch Ness. He became the fastest man on water (206.89mph) though did not achieve the record since the accident occurred before he could complete a second run over the measured mile.

At the end of the measured mile Crusader nose-dived into the deep dark waters of Loch Ness. John Cobb's body was swiftly pulled from the water by his support team and the wreckage from crusader sank to depths of over 200m.

Smaller pieces of the boat, blown off by the crash, were found floating and taken away to be burned on the shore.

Later, a memorial cairn was built at the loch-side by the local people to the memory of a "gallant gentleman".

The Loch Ness Project decided to search for Cobb's boat in 2001, since this year is to be the 50th year since the tragedy. Using photography, archive film and digital image analysis, Adrian Shine began to plot the probable location of the wreckage of Crusader.

Over a period of 18 months, working from his laboratory at the Loch Ness 2000 Exhibition Centre, and the Loch Ness Project research vessel "Deepscan", Adrian identified strong sonar contacts during night searches of the area.

Skipper, John Minshull and Adrian Shine spent many long nights sweeping the plotted line with sonar and mapping the site.

This year as they closed in on the wreck they were joined by Gary Richardson, manager of Loch Ness 2000 and by other Loch Ness Project members and volunteers including David Martin, Elaine Minshull and Maralyn Shine.

By June the Loch Ness Project felt confident that they had found a debris field. At this point the American Academy of Applied Science, on expedition at the loch, announced an interest in finding the Cobb wreck during the last 2 days of their visit and were to be assisted by Gordon Menzies, a resident, owner of Temple Pier and as a child, witness of the record attempt.

Adrian Shine presented the Project's data to the Academy team. Bob Rines, calling from the U.S.A, immediately offered the Loch Ness Project assistance from his Cabaco owned ROV with pilot Joe Caba and pilot Mike Nicholson of Deep Sea Systems aboard the vessel Boy David (Skipper Ken and David Skea).

On Thursday the 4th July exmination of the sonar contacts began and on Friday 5th July Adrian navigated the ROV over the search line and at 3pm what appeared to be the remains of Crusader, stark, angular and twisted loomed out of the dark sitting quietly in 200m of water. But was it bits of Crusader?

Loch Ness Project and Kongsberg find John Cobb's Crusader wreck with its jet engine 28th April 2019.

It was 19 years before the Crusader was discoverd by Adrian Shine and Craig Wallace of Kongsberg with his Munin AUV. On board Deepscan were John from Kongsberg, Skipper John Minshull and videographer Maralyn Shine. Alastair Matheson accompanied Gordon Menzies who had offered his boat to act as a steadying tow to Deepscan in the rising weather conditions.

More info to follow.....

Digital Imagery - Maralyn Shine, Loch Ness Project

Photographic help
and inital calculations from Dick Raynor.

ROV Team -Academy of Applied Science

Loch Ness Researcher Adrian Shine and John Minshull search for John Cobb's Crusader
Adrian Shine plots GPS positions with
John Minshull on M.V. Deepscan

Loch Ness Shoreline and Crash Site Area
Crash area - close to north shore - Loch Ness

Crusader Sketch  launch from Temple Pier
Sketch of Crusader being man-handled.

Crusader Engine sketch
Sketch of Crusader's Jet Engine

Deepscan mapping and scaling the crash area
Scaling and mapping the site

.Loch Ness sonar operation
Every night of the search the sonar and camera's
aboard Deepscan were checked and tested

Loch Ness Project Skipper getting the underwater cameras ready
With every camera launch and change of position
230m of heavy camera tether are flaked in and out by hand.

Underwater Cameras go over the side of the Deepscan search boat
Kongsberg Simrad camera and sonar fitted to
the Project's tow-fish and launched overboard.

Camera retrieved by Gary Richardson
Gary Richrdson
launching the camera and sonar
Adrian Shine Tracking the underwater camera
Sonar sweeping for debris on the loch bed.

Back to Reflections, News and Links

John Cobb and Crusader found by Loch Ness Project