HMS Hermes was a Highflyer-class light cruiser launched in 1898 and converted into an aircraft transport and depot ship ready for the outbreak of WW1.

The 110m vessel was sunk by the German submarine U27 off Ruylingen Bank in the Straits of Dover on 31 October, 1914, with the loss of 22 crew. The wreck lies inverted at a depth of around 30m.

Officers from Kent Police’s Rural Task Force launched an investigation in August 2015, after being informed that a number of historical artefacts had been reported missing from the wreck.

John Blight, 57, of Winchelsea, East Sussex, has now been charged with three counts of dishonestly failing to disclose items to the Receiver of Wreck with intent to make a gain. Nigel Ingram, 56, of Teynham, Kent, has been charged with the same three counts, in addition to being in possession of £16,000 worth of criminal property.

Both men have been bailed to appear before Margate magistrates on 2 March.

The investigation was carried out by Kent Police in partnership with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, the Marine Management Organisation, the Receiver of Wreck, Sussex Police, Historic England and the French authorities.

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