Many of Britain’s legendary naval heroes could have been gay, according to a German historian.

Klaus Hympenhahl, in a new book, Sins on the Open Sea- the Erotic History of Christian Voyages, claims seafarers such as Sir Francis Drake and Lord Nelson, resorted to homosexuality when they were on long voyages away from women.

Mr Hympenhahl said it may also explain why Johhny Depp’s role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean is so camp.

He suggests ancient pirates would have “most likely” been gay as they slept below deck in communal cabins where “anything could happen.”