HMS Royal Oak wreckage seen using 3D holographic visualisation

Holoxica faced a host of challenges in this project. Instead of the traditional side scan sonar, which allows for 2D visualization, ADUS utilises multi-beam sonar systems which provide depth data of the seabed.  This additional dimension allows for the creation of three dimensional digital terrain models (DTM’s). 

ADUS’ sonar data contains over 1.1 million points in three-dimensional space.  After initially attempting to join up the dots to generate surfaces, it became apparent that the more accurate way to utilize the information would be to use the data as presented and augment it with some simple scaling and processing operations to ensure the integrity of the picture. 

Some intricate manual features were also included to provide for occlusion in an effort to prevent the viewer seeing through the points to the other sides.

Through coupling the extreme accuracy of the sonar technology with pioneering 3D rendering, Holoxica has produced a hologram that is a true representation of the current state of the HMS Royal Oak, accurate to within c.10cm. 

Building on military visualisation technology, Holoxica created this hologram as a ‘lie-flat’ image, which is laid horizontally and illuminated by a single spot light directly from above. 

This allows for the complete visualisation through the rotation of the HMS Royal Oak hologram, which gives the viewer the ability to walk 360 degrees around it. 

This technology is set to  create immediate benefits for a host of customers.  Through this project, Holoxica has gained the ability to offer a new format to customers in medicine and architecture who often have a need for lie-flat images.

The Royal Oak, was a Revenge-class battleship of the British Royal Navy, and was the first battleship sunk in the Second World War.  Torpedoed by the German U-47 submarine on October 14, 1939, she sank within 30 minutes taking with her 833 of her crew.

In 2006, the Salvage & Marine Operations unit of the MoD commissioned Advanced Underwater Surveys Ltd (ADUS), a company part owned by the University of St Andrews and the University of Dundee, to provide sonar images of the Royal Oak. 

Martin Dean, Managing Director of ADUS, who performed the sonar survey, commented; ‘We are excited by the holographic visualisation produced by Holoxica from our wreck survey data.  This is undoubtedly a major step forward in helping people to understand the condition of wrecks on the seabed, an important consideration for both cultural and environmental reasons.  The Royal Oak is not only an important historic wreck, it is also slowly leaking fuel oil which could be a threat to the surrounding area.’

Javid Khan says: ‘We are pleased with the result which is a unique way to visualise a historically significant piece of naval warfare history. You can see how the Royal Oak is lying on the seabed and where four torpedoes hit her.’


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