Wrecks Of The UK

Wrecks Of The UK

Created: 2018-07-19

MULBERRY DOCKS:

Location- Selsey

Depth: Maximum 10m

Size: Length=60m   Width=17m

Sank: 1944

What is it ?

The Brits realised that they needed some more docks in France for them to off load cargo. They created the Mulberry docks as a portable dock to use until the allies were able to capture a French port.

Pre-fabricated in the UK, the concrete blocks were transported across to Normandy and then sunk.

On June 6th 1944 over 400 towed component parts (weighing 1.5 million tones) set sail.

Both Harbours were a success and fully functional by the time a huge storm hit causing extreme damage to the docks.

Remains in the UK:

The Phoenix Caissons were reinforced concrete caissons. They were collected and sunk prior to D-day. There were 6 different sizes ranging from 2000 tons to 6000 tons. Each was towed by two tugs at a rate of 3 knots. The caissons were initially sunk awaiting D-day and then refloated. People say that the name Phoenix was used because they were resurrected.

Sections of the Phoenix can be found at:

Thorp Bay – Southsea. Whilst it was being towed the Caisson began to leak and was intentionally beached. (Only assessable at low tide)

Pagham (known as the Far Mulberry) sank off the coast, settled and cracked and is now laying about 10m deep.

VALENTINE TANKS:

Location: Swanage

Depth: Maximum 15m

Size: Length= 5m

Sank: 4th April 1943

What are they?

Effectively they were floating (or sinking) tanks.  The tanks had a canvas screen around the outside and used this displacement to float. The engines were then connected to the propellers.

Why was it called Valentine?

Theory’s of the name:

Originally people thought that the idea of the floating tanks was presented to the War office on St Valentine’s Day.

Then people started to wondering if Valentine was the middle name of the tank designer John V. Carden.

Other people think that Valentine is an acronym for Vikers-Armstrong-LTD-Elswick-Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Lastly it could have simply just been a code word. What do you think?

The Wreck:

7 lay at the bottom of the bay. However only 6 were ever mentioned in diaries that documented the exercise.

Next year there will be an exercise to map and locate all of the missing pieces of the tanks.

On the wreck there is a permanent shot line and a rope that leads you down the side and another line that leads you to the next one.

It is full of wildlife making it a colourful and exciting wreck to explore.

AEOLIAN SKY:

Location:Swanage

Depth: Maximum 32m

Size:Length=148.7m

Sank: 4th November 1979

What is it?

The Aeolian Sky was a Greek-run freighter built in 1978. It has engines at the rear and four massive holds separated by equally massive masts and cargo derricks.

Why it sank:

This massive freight was fully loaded and on its way to Africa when bad weather struck. She collided with a German ship but came off worse. She was then towed to English water with a hole in her bow but was refused by Southampton and Portsmouth ports for fear of pollution. Eventually she was defeated and sank meaning the the millions of pounds of cargo was lost to sea.

The Wreck:

She sank laying on her port side, and has stayed in tact (bar the hole in her bow).

For first visitors it is recommended that you start your dive at the bow then heading over the superstructure to the stern to get the best picture. She still holds lots of interesting cargo for divers to look at from trucks to locomotives. Behind the superstructure is a surprisingly large area of stern deck, dominated by a large winch with cable wound on it.

For those wreck qualified a trip into the engine room can be beautiful yet eery.

KYARRA:

Location: Swanage

Depth: Maximum 29m

Size: Length=126m

Sank: 26th May 1918

What is it?

A luxury passenger voyager on its way to Australia via Plymouth to collect wounded soldiers to be repatriated..

Why it Sank:

The Kyarra was fully loaded with a mixed cargo of goods. As she was passing the Isle of Wight disaster struck as she was spotted by German submarine UB-57. Taking a direct hit to midship on the port side she quickly sank with 6 men loosing their lives.

The Wreck:

Originally people used to only dive her for the treasure that could be found. However, since she has been dived so much you are less likely to find this treasure now. The Kyarra has two buoys tied to it which surface on slack water only. For new visitors it is suggested staring at either the stern of the bow and working your way along. This is simply due to the size of it. If you keep to the port side of her you will be able to see the triple-expansion engines and the boiler. There are actually four boilers on this ship but only one is visible from the outside.

M2 SUBMARINE:

Location: Portland

Depth: Maximum 35m

Size: Length=93m

Sank: 26 January 1932

What is it?

In 1928 this submarine was converted to carry a seaplane which could be launched shortly after surfacing using a hydraulic catapult. Afterwards the plane would be hoisted back on board using a crane.

Why it Sank:

Unfortunately the launching of the plane went very badly and all 60 crew members died. After sending divers down to examine the cause of the sinking it came to light that the hanger door was still open with the plane inside.

The Wreck:

For new visitors you can dive starting from the Stern at 34m. There is a dual strut just forward of the rudder which would have held the propellers in place. Further on from the stern are two large hydroplanes on either side.

Moving on you come to the conning tower where the Peri scope and the masts are still standing proud. (20m)

You can drop down from there to see the hidden hanger and explore where the plane once sat. Finally if you look back you can see the catapult.

Other things to look out for are the four torpedo holes and an anchor.

COUNTESS OF ERNE:

Location: Portland

Depth: Maximum 15m

Size: Length= 73m

Sank: 16th September 1935

What is it?

It was first used as a paddle steamer passenger vessel. It was then demoted to a coal hulk in Portland Harbour. She sank because she broke loose from the Harbour mooring.

The Wreck:

This is a really nice dive due to how shallow it is and the marine life that has called it their home. The steamer lies upright almost parallel to the harbour wall with the shallowest part of the deck at 8m. She is reasonable in tact therefore easy to navigate.

On the deck of the ship stands a capstan and a mast with bollards located on the port and starboard sides. The ship provides several nice swim throughs for all those that are wreck qualified and on a sunny day, when the visibility is good you can see the length of the ship.

The best time to dive this ship is in late spring sue to the amount of marine life that comes to play. From nudibranchs to candy striped flat worms. The colour can shine through the water.

JAMES FENNEL:

Location: Portland

Depth: Maximum 19m

Size: Length = 38m

Sank: 16th January 1920

What is it ?

She is a distinctive looking steamship with a big boiler and engine. She sank as a result of grounding.

The Wreck:

The James Fennel is still in very good condition with a lovely swim through between the engine and the boiler, the con-rods are still standing erect and are very visible.

The bow is clearly visible and has opened up revealing fallen wreckage inside.

One of its main attractions is because the 4 bladed propeller is still in great condition with only one of the blades buried in the sand.

The ship since it fell has created a home for many different types of wildlife like crabs and pollack.

ST DUNSTAN

Location: West Bay

Depth: Maximum 29

Size: length= 61m

Sank: 23rd September 1917

What is it?

It was built for use for a dredger with large buckets that operated on a conveyor belt.

The associated machinery required a lot of room, hence the boilers and the engines were placed at the front. During the First World War the dredger was requestioned to operate as a minesweeper. She was sailing just past Portland Bill when she hit a mine laid by UC-21, turned upside down and quickly sank.

The Wreck:

Today the St Dunstan is a terrific dive and has to be ranked as on of the top dive sites for fish life. Bib, Cod and pollack are in great numbers with the guaranteed opportunity to fin through a shoal of fish.

Much evidence can be found of the mechanics of the actual tual bucket dredger.

The upturned hull on the port side is less broken and a little dull but on the starboard side many areas can be entered from underneath. Just behind the bow is a lovely swim through along the width of the ship between the two anemone coated boilers and the bow.

You can enter the engine room where you can still see the engines and huge cogs hanging from the ceiling.

POMERANIAN:

Location: West Bay

Depth: Maximum 36m

Size: Length= 116m

Sank: 15th April 1918

What was it?

It was a large imposing steamship with mixed cargo. The ship became famous amongst divers for it is believed to have been carrying 14 diving helmets. Although only one has ever been recovered.

Many lives were lost on this ship. The steamer was on its way back home to Newfoundland in Canada when the submarine UB-77 spotted her and a torpedo was fired with a direct hit. The ship went down fast and only one of the 56 crew survived.

The Wreck:

The highest point is midships where the shot usually lands. This is your starting point and the undisputed highlight. The cabins are are a wreck divers dream as you negotiate the spacious rooms and several gangways whilst staring up at the metal framing clad in dead men’s fingers. Heading to the stern you will pass the two partly buried boilers followed by the triple-expansion entrance. Then you can see two winches side by side.

At the stern you will see a somewhat broken rudder still attached to he ship and along side a single propeller blade that is sticking out of the sand.

SCYLLA:

Location: Plymouth

Depth: Maximum 25

Size: Length 113m

Sank: 27th March 2004

What is it?

HMS Scylla was a Leander-class freight of the Royal Navy. She was built on Devonport dockyard and after an active role was decommissioned in 1970 to be finally bought by the national marine aquarium. She wasn’t purchased for sailing but instead her life was to end underwater as an artificial reef. A large task was undertaken to make her safer to scuttle. Access doorways were cut for divers and all possible marine contamination removed.

The Wreck:

The Wreck has changed dramatically over the years in to a glorious shipwreck bursting with life. The freight is too large to cover in just one dive so the most dived route is alone shallow depths. The stern and lower decks are definitely worth the adventure but watch the silt as the whole wreck has a thick layer of silt covering it.

Here you can fin inside along the narrow corridors viewing filing racking and all manner of items. At 9m the bridge is also worth a visit. This is where the steering binnacle still stands surrounded by windows.

Finally you end up at the helicopter hanger.

JAMES EAGAN LAYNE:

Location: Plymouth

Depth: Maximum bow = 8-20m / stern= 23m

Size: length= 130m

Sank: 21st March 1945

What was it?

This US Liberty ship was in convoy on voyage from Wales to Belgium carrying US Army engineering stores. She was the lead ship and after passing the West Rutts was struck by a torpedo from the U-399 sub. Although holed on the starboard side between the rear holds, she didn’t sink immediately allowing time for all the Crew to be rescued. A last ditch attempt was made to beach her in shallow water but she didn’t make it.

The Wreck:

The wreck which is held in high esteem and savoured amongst divers. Dropping down the side will take you to the anchor hawse pipes with a hive of fishy activity often. You can fin inside the whole length of the wreck where archetypal columns soar up in great elegance. Beams cross the sealing spaced out almost perfectly to grant divers an easy exit. The holds are still filled with cargo from vehicle batteries to cogs and wheels.

MOHEGAN:

Location: Falmouth

Depth: Maximum 25m

Size: Length = 144m

Sank: 14th October 1898

What is it?

It was a luxurious steamship on voyage to New York. She sailed at full steam past the Eddystone lighthouse where a course was plotted but mistakenly the bearing was set wrong. Just as all the passengers were sitting down to dinner, the ship plowed into Vase Rock where the rudder was completely torn off and the hull badly damaged. The ship drifted over to Maen Voes where she sank in just 12 minutes. All the crew went down with the ship but 44 passengers were saved. In total 106 people lost their lives that day.

The Wreck:

The boilers tower up to dominate the scene and these alone will take a while circumnavigate. The gaps between the boilers are filled with wrasse and pollack as it is a safe haven from the divers bubbles. The rest of the ship has completely collapsed to leave predominantly a jumble of metal beams, mostly decorated by displayed of sea fans. Tall rocks lie around the wreckage where you can take a few interesting diversions to explore under the overhangs and inside the cervices.

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