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You’ve dived the best, now here’s the rest

GUN CLUB Getting to grips with battleships


Explore the minelayer and cruisers

SCAPA FLOW 100 years of ANNIVERSARY ISSUE heavy metal WORKING THE FLOW: What it’s like to skipper an Orkney liveaboard SNAPPING SCAPA: The greatest challenge in underwater photography SMS CÖLN REVISITED: special on BSAC’s favourite cruiser Issue 89 April 2019 £4.50


The Editor asked me to write the introduction for this special issue, as it’s a place that’s close to my heart and somewhere I’ve repeatedly visited, each time learning more about the place and discovering rich detail on the various dive sites. You’ll find the magazine has been packed with loads of detailed information so you can plan your dives and get the maximum from each one. Back to normal SCUBA next month. If you’ve never been to Scapa and think it’s deep, dark and dangerous, then you couldn’t be more wrong. There’s a load of world class, permanently shotted wrecks in Sports Diver depths, with no current, in a sheltered harbour with a whole tourist industry sitting there ready and waiting to pour you a pint. Sadly, the majority of the 74 interned ships scuttled on the 21st June 1919 with the flag signal ‘paragraph 11, confirm’ have been lifted and sold for scrap, but the Big Seven that remain make for varied and interesting dives, where you can dive on big sticky-up rudders on the Markgraf, explore the steam turbines on the König and get blown away by the big guns on the Kronprinz, the only ones you can see anywhere that were fired at the Battle of Jutland. All surrounded by thick armoured belting, so well-engineered you couldn’t slip a page from the ‘88s between the plates. There’s also the three cruisers and a minelayer, some turrets left from the lifted Bayern and a myriad of scrap sites where bits of ship and their contents fell out when they were lifted. BSAC is running a project to document the Cöln, so you can get stuck in with your cameras detailing the wreck and feed into this. Orkney Harbours are keen that all divers enjoy the centenary events, and BSAC has been working with them to help divers with the information and permits needed to bring their own boats up and go diving safely – handy as pretty much all of the resident hard boats and liveaboards have been booked up for ages. If you’re heading up, I’ll see you up there for the sinking week, at one of the events planned, in the Ferry Inn, or in the water. Alex ‘Woz’ Warzynski, BSAC Chair


Published by: TRMG Ltd Winchester Court, 1 Forum Place, Hatfield, Herts AL10 0RN Tel: 01707 273 999 Fax: 01707 276 555 Printed by Precision Colour Printing Ltd Publishing Director Jonathan Fellows Operations Director Andrew Stevens Head of Production Charles Dragazis Editor Simon Rogerson Sub Editor Kristina Pedder Production Editor Malcolm Anderson Design Jonathan Sloane Commercial Manager Jon Williams Equipment Testing Neil Hope Subscriptions / Back Issues Amy Alford Tel: 01707 273 999 ext. 264 Email: © 2019 British Sub-Aqua Club All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means without written permission of the copyright owners. Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, the publishers cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. In the interest of independence and impartiality, many features in SCUBA have been written on behalf of the publisher by third party experts. It should be noted that any opinions and recommendations expressed therein are the views of the writers themselves and not necessarily those of BSAC.


Brush up your wreck diving skills

Inside 3

Welcome … to SCAPA, with Woz


BSAC Contacts

12 Critter Confidential Swimming crabs 14 SCUBA Hub News and events in the diving world 24 Kirsty Andrews … is a Scapa fan 27 Yo-Han Cha … sees spots

Cover photo: 15cm casemate gun on SMS Markgraf by Marjo Tynkkynen – 300,000 lumens of torch light used If you love diving and want to benefit from the best training and an international network of friendly clubs, you should get to know BSAC. What is BSAC all about? Take a look at this magazine and you’ll get an idea. Our members have a lot of fun and enjoy safe, adventurous diving all year round. Oh, and it stands for The British Sub-Aqua Club: we’ve been going for more than 60 years. We are Britain’s biggest dive club, with hundreds of local clubs run by committed divers on a non-profit basis. It’s not just the best way to go diving – it’s also the best value. And BSAC diving is not restricted to the UK – we have excellent clubs and schools all over the world. BSAC is also the UK National Governing Body of scuba diving, representing the interests of snorkellers and divers across the nation. You can learn to scuba dive with BSAC from the age of 12 and snorkel from the age of six. It doesn’t matter if you’ve trained with another agency. All divers are welcome at BSAC clubs, and everyone can try our internationally recognised courses to find out why they enjoy such a good reputation across the diving industry. If you’re looking for the highest standards of training and wonderful diving in great company, BSAC could be perfect for you. Whether you’ve learned to scuba or snorkel on holiday, or would simply like to give it a go, we’d love to hear from you. JOIN BSAC TODAY – go to FIND YOUR LOCAL BSAC CLUB – go to or call +44(0) 151 350 6201


28 Michelle Haywood … call me rusty 30 Snorkelling Access denied? 32 SCUBA Chat Your letters and views 34 BSAC Courses Get your training sorted 36 Club Focus Pontefract SAC 42 Learning Curve Wreck Diving SDC 84 Test Centre Aqua Lung i770R 87 Departure Lounge Travel news and offers 90 Travel Special The A-Z of wrecks 100 Photoquest Shooting Scapa 102 Postcards Divers’ tales from the clubs 105 Next Month 106 Greatest Dive Burra’s blockships



Into the battle cruisers



A-Z tour of worldwide wrecks

48 Scapa 100 – Introduction Rod Macdonald sets the scene 54 Scapa 100 – Fast & Light Emily Turton on the cruisers 64 Scapa 100 – Working the Flow A day in the office with Helen Hadley 68 Scapa 100 – War machines Bob Anderson’s battleship guide 78 Scapa 100 - The Cöln A Wrecked! special 83 Scapa 100 – Visitor Information Resources around the Flow


Dive the guns of Scapa Flow 5

We’d love to hear from you… BSAC has a team in Cheshire to support clubs and members. If you have a question, need advice and support, or simply have some feedback, please get in touch. GENERAL ENQUIRIES


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BSAC, Telford’s Quay, South Pier Road, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire CH65 4FL. p 0151 350 6200 w

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Not a member yet? Discover club life at PHOTO©: JANE MORGAN



The Markgraf gun run A diver illuminates a casemate gun on the German battleship SMS Markgraf, scuttled in June 1919 in Scapa Flow, Orkney. A casemate was an armoured room in the side of a war ship from which a gun (typically a six-inch gun) would be fired. Seven such guns can be seen at deck level on the Markgraf. Such casemate guns were for a while rendered obsolete by the era of the ‘all big gun’ battleships ushered in by HMS Dreadnought in 1906. However, they were reintroduced as a response to the increasing threat of torpedo attack by destroyers. Photo by Steve Jones Model and lighting: Bob Anderson 11


Critter confidential

A selection of swimming crabs We’ve got a crab on the front cover of this month’s one-off SCAPA tribute magazine. Paul Naylor has a few more for you right here Above: Velvet swimming crab with its prey


WHEN DID YOU LAST DO A UK sea dive and not see a swimming crab? They are widespread, versatile, abundant and, best of all, can be entertaining to watch. Peer into a nook or cranny on a reef or wreck and you may well

find the bright red eyes of a velvet swimming crab (Necora puber) looking back at you insolently. If you wait and watch, you can sometimes see them intimidate their crevice dwelling neighbours such as squat lobsters or small fish into leaving their patch. The best encounters to observe are when large tompot blennies turn the tables on the cranky crustaceans; they don’t take that sort of nonsense from anyone! Velvet swimming crabs caught out of their crevice, or on muddy seabeds and among seagrass

where I see them surprisingly often, behave with even more belligerence. They typically spread their claws, rear up on their legs in apparent defiance and seem very reluctant to give any ground. Their versatility shows in their diet too. Velvet swimming crabs eat mainly seaweed, but I have seen them chiselling barnacles, tearing up worms and patiently chipping away the shells of sea snails or hermit crabs on numerous occasions. Another regular sight is a couple in pre-mating embrace.

SCUBA HUB A male grabs a female that he has detected is about to moult, then carries her around until she sheds her armour and becomes receptive. The outcome of this – female crabs carrying egg masses, can be spotted through most of the year; more evidence of this animal’s versatility. Harbour crabs (Liocarcinus depurator) are the true specialists in areas of sand and sandy mud. They are more lightly built than velvet swimming crabs, have proportionately larger paddles on their rear-most legs, and are superb swimmers. When you see one paddling at top speed

just above the seabed for the first time, it’s quite a surprise and you could easily mistake the blur for a fish. Impressively, males carrying females can move pretty fast too, although I guess it’s no coincidence that the only time I managed to snap a still of a swimming harbour crab was a male carrying his mate. Harbour crabs are reported to eat a wide range of invertebrates and fish, no surprise given their speed and agility. The great majority of swimming crabs we see while diving are one of these two species, but you may spot others. With the help

of a crab specialist friend, I have identified the pale crabs (similar to harbour crabs) I sometimes see around the sand and seagrass beds of Torbay as flying crabs, Liocarcinus holsatus. An unusual, brightly redcoloured crab I encountered near Oban a few years ago was a wrinkled swimming crab, Liocarcinus corrugatus; what a great scientific name! A further memorable meeting was with a small swimming crab in Loch Melfort that showed me how attitude as well as appearance might vary between species. My attention was caught by the unusual carapace edge between its eyes, but I found it difficult to get a clear photograph of that against the sandy background. I picked up the crab gently to have a closer look and, to my amazement, it sat obligingly on the palm of my black glove while I took close-up photographs of what I later discovered was an arch-fronted swimming crab, Liocarcinus navigator. I can’t imagine a velvet swimming or harbour crab doing that!

Left: Velvet swimming crab shelters beneath a snakelocks anemone Below left: A harbour crab gives its usual greeting to a passing hermit crab Below: Flying crab among seagrass, distinguished by detailed features on its legs and claws





Scapa salvage sites revealed A report providing a detailed insight into Scapa Flow’s salvage sites has been released, providing a fascinating glimpse into the seabed, from where most of the German High Seas fleet was salvaged. Commissioned by Historic Environment Scotland, the German Fleet Salvage Sites report is the result of a major archaeological project by the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA) and Sulu Diving, a commercial diving operation based in Stromness. It also includes contributions from BSAC members and expeditions conducted over the last couple of years. With the seven remaining Scapa wrecks telling the most visible story of the scuttling 100 years ago this summer, the salvaged wrecks have still left their mark, including gun turrets, masts and deck structures left in depressions on the seabed. The report provides a detailed insight into what remains on the seabed where vessels were salvaged. It contains previously unreleased photographs from archives, sidescan images of the sites and historical insights of the salvage. It also includes co-ordinates for 129 items located by sidescan on the seabed, opening up potential new sites to divers. The report can be accessed via A report on the Scapa Salvage sites will feature in a future edition of SCUBA.

Candidates announced for BSAC Council Election 2019 THE runners in the 2019 BSAC Election - which will see a new Chair, Honorary Treasurer and three Council members come on board – have been announced. The response to this year’s call to stand for Council have prompted a total of 12 members to stand as 2019 election candidates. Voting will open middle to end of March, when BSAC members will be able to vote for the following candidates:

full details of the online voting process for the BSAC Election 2019, including online voting codes and links to the candidate CVs, middle to the end of March. Please help us to make sure our email records are up-to-date by checking your details via your ‘MyBSAC’ member dashboard at You can update your email address online if your records are incorrect.

BSAC Chair (one post available) Mark Allen Eugene Farrell Maria Harwood Edward Haynes Rachel Quinn

All voting in the 2019 Election will be done online unless members specifically register for a postal vote. If you would prefer your voting papers to arrive in the post rather than via email, you have until 10 April to submit your request. To register for a postal vote, please email your name and BSAC membership number to by Wednesday, 10 April 2019. The successful candidates will take up their BSAC Council positions after the BSAC AGM on 11 May.

Honorary Treasurer Karen McKnight (unopposed) Council (three positions available) Gerry Anderson Trevor Brown Philip Hill Claire Howard James Mudge Andrew Shenstone

How to vote… BSAC members with a valid email address who are eligible to vote will be emailed

Date for the diary BSAC’s 65th Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday, 11 May at midday (12pm) in the Jessop Suite, Holiday Inn, Centre Island, Waterways, Lower Mersey Street, Ellesmere Port CH65 2AL. All BSAC members are welcome to attend.

Exclusive discounts with Anchor Dive Lights BSAC members can now enjoy exclusive prices with top-quality underwater torch company, Anchor Dive Lights. Until the

Above: Declan Burke, Anchor Dive Lights and Debbie Powell, BSAC


end of May 2019 current BSAC members can get 15 per cent off RRP and current BSAC Instructors can get and 25 per cent off RRP. Anchor Dive Lights specialises in reliable and affordable primary dive torches and video lights (for Go Pro and similar). The Donegal-based company’s torches are intended for travel (small and lightweight), tested in North Atlantic conditions to 100m and with options for all levels of diver (entry-level, photographers / videographers and Tech). Anchor Dive Lights products are already popular with BSAC members. Howard Rawson, Advanced Instructor at Selby

Sub-Aqua Club said: “Not only are the products better than advertised, but the service provided is second to none. I highly recommend any of the Anchor Dive Light products.” Visit for more information.


Scapa 100: Summer of history THE Scapa 100 initiative is counting down to the summer, which marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the German High Fleet on Friday, 21 June. Bringing together a host of collaborators, from Scapa dive boat skippers to scientists, divers and photographers, Scapa 100 covers a cluster of projects to commemorate, map, protect, explore and tell the story of the scuttling of the German fleet 100 years ago. Here’s a round-up of some of the latest projects and how you can get involved:

BSAC Scapa 100 expedition BSAC is inviting its members to sign up to its Scapa 100 expedition, which is encouraging clubs to visit and dive the Flow throughout the 2019 season, and contribute to the wider Scapa 100 project. The BSAC Exped team’s original two hardboat slots, chartered for the anniversary in June are now full, but the team is considering booking an extra day boat for the week of 7th June if there is sufficient interest. Clubs can also bring their own RIBs or charter their own hardboat this season and help the Scapa 100 project to collate information for an online virtual database of the scuttled ships. Members can also directly contribute to the image recording of BSAC’s sponsored Scapa wreck, the Cöln. For more information on BSAC’s Scapa 100 Exped and to register your club’s interest go to

Stromness Museum If you are visiting Scapa this season, plan a visit to the Stromness Museum, which

will have late night opening to accommodate the diving community. Their summer exhibition is all about Scapa Flow with some never seen before artefacts on display. The Orkney Museum in Kirkwall will also have a Scapa Flow themed exhibition.

Save the date – 21 June The Centenary falls on Friday, 21 June, which will see a busy programme of free events over the surrounding two weeks including gallery openings, virtual reality experiences, hyperbaric chamber tours, theatre performances and talks. The official council-led commemorative events will focus on 21 June, which organisers are hoping will have both a Royal Navy and German Navy presence.

There will also be a Scapa 100 Hub venue where divers and non-divers can congregate, share a drink and a story or two and maybe try the new Scuttled Gin from the Deerness Distillery in Orkney, specially produced to mark the Centenary. You can keep up to date via the Scapa 100 Facebook page and website and a full programme of events will be published soon. More info at and Facebook Scapa 100.

Scapa – permits for club boats BSAC clubs looking to take their RIBs to Scapa Flow for the centenary of the scuttling will need to apply for a dive permit to ensure they comply with Orkney Harbour Authority’s regulations. Diving without a permit in the Scapa Flow Harbour area is prohibited. If you are diving with a local hardboat operator, this is taken care of by the operator. For club RIBs, Orkney Harbours will consider issuing dive permits only to clubs and members who will dive inside the Flow respectfully (ie not removing artefacts) and operate their vessels responsibly and in accordance with local bylaws and Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) requirements. BSAC attended a meeting chaired by the Harbour Master attended by Orkney Harbour officials, hard boat skippers, Historic Environment Scotland and Orkney Marinas to discuss management of diving activities, particularly during the week of the centenary. Consequently, the dive permit application and conditions are being updated accordingly to help ensure diving is managed safely and in line with changes to legislation. The dive permit application form is expected to be updated by the end of March in time for the Scapa Flow dive season. For further information on Scapa dive permits for RIBs, go the FAQ section at

London Diving Chamber to close THE London Diving Chamber will be ceasing services from 31 March, due to NHS budget cutbacks, after 15 years of operation. The news comes a year on from a public consultation, over a decision to cut the number of hyperbaric chambers in southern England. As the sport’s governing body, BSAC responded to the consultation at the time, making it clear its deep concerns over any reduction in hyperbaric provision Based at The Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth in St John’s Wood, the London Diving Chamber has conducted over 10,000 dives in its chamber as part

of a service providing hyperbaric oxygen therapy to divers and NHS patients over the last 15 years. Midlands Diving Chamber will continue to run the full service from dive medicals to emergency treatment, while the London Hyperbaric Medicine (LHM) Chamber at Whipps Cross Hospital, has been awarded the NHS contract for treating decompression illness in the London area. BSAC members are advised to keep their Dive Emergency Assistance Plans and Risk Assessments up to date by finding the location of their nearest chamber in the South, and updating their records.

Emergency numbers BHA national emergency number (Plymouth): 07831 151 523 Midlands Diving Chamber will continue to run the full service from dive medicals to emergency treatment, its emergency DCI advice line operates the same emergency number: 07931 472 602 LHM Chamber (Whipps Cross Hospital): 07999 292 999 Chichester Hyperbaric Unit: 01243 330 096







Need more active instructors in your club? Debbie Powell has some suggestions BSAC club membership is on the up. Clubs that engage in the range of support on offer, including ‘how to fill an Ocean Diver course’ ( growyourclub) are seeing great results. However, one challenge is increasingly raising its head – having enough active instructors to service demand. Various initiatives will come online through 2019 to support clubs that struggle with this. In the meantime, the following short, medium and long-term tips could go some way to help relieve the problem.

Short term If you need instructors now… 1. Ask your Regional Team Instructors in your local regional team may be able to step in and help in the short term. Ask your Regional Coach. ( 2. Ask BSAC HQ BSAC can put a ‘call out’ to Direct member instructors in your area to see if anyone could step in to help. Contact Diving Support Advisor Geoff Bacon on 0151 350 6261 or 3. Go professional You may have a BSAC centre nearby ( that could train your new members for you. It could be worth checking in your area.

Medium term

Long term…

If you’re needing instructors in the next 6-18 months… 1. Look to your Sports Divers and Dive Leaders? They could be your new instructors in 6+ months’ time. Look to engage them more in the club. How could they get to the next level in a way that works for them? Consider involving them in Try Dives and shadowing instructors. Sell the benefits of volunteering ( and remember Dive Leaders can get Open Water Instructor qualified in just one week with a combined event ( 2. Networking with local clubs Is there scope to set up a reciprocal training arrangement with a neighbouring club or clubs? Some clubs have excess trainees or instructors. Get in touch, as you could help each other. ( 3. Reactivate instructors Some of your currently non-active instructors may want to get involved again if asked. Maybe something new could hit the spot such as getting involved in the Diving For All programme, starting a snorkelling section for young people or becoming a mentor for the ‘next generation’ of instructors. ( 4. Travel and train? Many clubs turn to overseas BSAC centres for the open water qualifying dives or indeed full Ocean Diver training. Some clubs have proven that they’re more likely to retain these members. (

A sustainable pool of happy (not over worked!) instructors is what we need to be aiming for… 1. Plant early seeds Get new divers thinking about instructing. Even new trainees could get excited about the potential of becoming an instructor so sell the benefits to all. ( 2. Have a plan Have an on-going plan to manage and develop your members / instructors. It could start with encouraging Sports Divers to do the Instructor Foundation Course right up to ensuring newlyqualified Advanced Instructors (or even National Instructors) are having their needs / ambitions met. Consider instructor development mentors (a similar principle to new member ‘buddies’). 3. Consider member life-cycles People’s ability to volunteer changes through their life. Look to adapt with them. Instructors with young children may only be able to manage confined water sessions (or a complete break may be necessary). Empty nesters, on the other hand, may have more time to take on open water sessions. Unfortunately a lack of active instructors is not a problem that will sort itself. The good news is, advice and support are at hand. If you’re not sure where to start, please contact Diving Support Advisor Geoff Bacon on 0151 350 6261 or at

Laptop appeal after Stromness theft THE team behind an HMS Royal Oak photogrammetry project have appealed for the safe return of a laptop containing survey data that was stolen from a property in Stromness. A reward of £1,500 has also been offered in the hope that the laptop can be returned so that the project can be completed in time for the 80th anniversary of the sinking of the battleship. More than 800 sailors died when the Royal Oak was torpedoed in October 1939 by the German U-boat U47. She now lies 16

as a protected site, in 30m of water inside Scapa Flow. Working with the Royal Oak Association, a team of academics and divers had spent months collecting images

and data from the wreck site in order to create 3D images of the wreck. The plan was to share the subsequent final imagery with relatives of those who were on the ship. A distinctive Schenker model, the stolen laptop taken from a flat in the Orkney town of Stromness over the weekend of 26 and 27 January. Other items stolen were a Dell monitor and two powerful underwater lamps. If you have any information on the laptop contact Kirkwall Police or Crimestoppers – 0800 555 111.


Cave rave for BSAC in Mexico MEXICO’S only BSAC centre, Underworld Tulum will be hosting DiveFest, a new diving festival to be held over two weeks this May. DiveFest will take place in the resort of Tulum, on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, from 4-18 May 2019, offering BSAC members and clubs two weeks of fantastic diving for a range of levels, including guided cavern dives, technical try dives and a host of talks and social events. There will also be BSAC recreational and technical courses and for experienced divers wanting to venture a little further into the overhead, cavern and cave training will be available. Tulum is on top of some of the world’s best cavern and cave diving as well as having the MesoAmerican Reef system (second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef) just off the coast.

Owned and run by Lanny and Claire Vogel, Underworld Tulum is a BSAC Premier and Technical Centre with its own purpose-built facility. The twoweek DiveFest Mexico experience costs £749 for BSAC members, and includes airport transfers, two weeks self-catering accommodation, all social events, coffee and soft drinks, presentations and most of the workshops. Lanny said he was looking forward to the very first DiveFest. “Having been fortunate to dive in more than 30 countries, I have not found anywhere as breathtakingly beautiful as the cenotes on our doorstep. We really enjoy introducing BSAC divers to this environment, and the camaraderie and teamwork makes having BSAC clubs staying a real pleasure.” More information at

Promo kits – how to order online BSAC has updated the way clubs can order their promotional materials online, to provide an easy ‘one stop shop’ via All Branch Officers can now order BSAC promotional materials through the BSAC shop such as Try Dive packs, posters, flyers and customisable materials as well as their training packs.

Here’s how it works: The old ‘BSAC marketing hub’ is no longer available, you don’t need your club’s marketing hub username/password to login As a Branch Officer, just simply visit (make sure you’re logged in) This means you can order training packs at the same time if you wish Only Branch Officers can view and order promotional materials in the BSAC shop. Please check with your fellow committee members before ordering to avoid duplicate orders. For more information please visit

Make the most of the Coaching Scheme, says NDO Dai Atkins A quarter of the way into the year already and the new coaching system is up and running and taking bookings for various training events across the UK. These range from core Diver Training, Skill Development Courses and the increasingly popular technical diving grades to suit the requests of both open and closed circuit students. Not to mention special interest courses and workshops to further add to your diving experiences. BSAC’s Coaching Scheme exists to supplement club training and provide support to members, instructors and branches in 14 regions across the UK and Europe, as well as several satellite zones overseas. It fills the gap where branches don’t quite have the resource. It is now even easier to search and book onto an event of your choice, and dates are continually being added to allow you to conduct training when and where you want it. And with regional coaching teams comprised of enthusiastic volunteers who enjoy giving back what they’ve learned themselves, you’re always guaranteed a fun time with like-minded divers and friends. See Speaking of technical courses, it’s become more and more common to see that particular grade of diver hanging around inland dive sites, etching strange hieroglyphs on gaffer tape stuck to their cylinders, talking about ‘Dill’ (and presumably other herbs) while rhythmically tapping and caressing small cylindrical canisters, sprinkling carefully calculated grains on top as if gauging the weight of the golden idol statue with which they’re about to make a swap in the Raiders of the Lost Ark. I often wonder when I see one walking gingerly towards me if they are engaged in some sort of scattering of spent lime through discreetly positioned drysuit pockets, walking it into the gravel in the manner of The Great Escape. Go and see what I mean at May’s Try Tech events, details in this months SCUBA, page 23.



BSAC’S project to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings has had a fantastic response, with all places now filled on the specially chartered hardboats. Next June will be 75 years since the Allied Landings on the coast of Normandy and BSAC aims to mark the occasion by bringing together the boats chartered by the project team with two other hardboats chartered by Guildford SAC and Nekton SAC for a week’s diving from 26 July to 3 August. The project will also be joined by club RIBs from other BSAC branches, including Clidive, Southsea, Ashbourne, Leicester Underwater Explorers, Ariel, and North Dorset. BSAC’s Underwater Heritage Adviser, Jane Maddocks said that there was still


D-Day project gears up

time for other clubs to bring their RIBs as part of Normandy 75, which will include a commemorative event and the opportunity to lay wreaths for the fallen. “BSAC’s Normandy 75 commemoration is the chance to get involved in something very special,” Jane said. “This is a significant anniversary in our

maritime history and the chance to bring together a large number of divers to mark and remember the sacrifice made by the fallen will make for a truly remarkable event.” For more information on Normandy 75 and the ways you can still get involved go to

Pool fees reduction for Clubmark branches BSAC clubs renting pool time from one of the UK’s leading pool operators, Everyone Active, have been asked to become Clubmark accredited by January 1st next year. Everyone Active (EA) currently operate more than 175 pools across the country on behalf of over 50 local authorities. Their January 1st 2020 deadline for clubs using their pools to achieve Clubmark is not compulsory, but clubs that do achieve the accreditation will be offered a range of additional benefits, including a 10 per cent reduction on pool fees. Clubmark is Sport England’s national accreditation scheme for community sports clubs that recognises higher standards of welfare, equity, coaching and management. Attaining the accreditation helps a club to show that they provide the right environment to ensure the welfare of their members. BSAC has been supporting its clubs to work towards the Clubmark for more than 10 years and recent updates in the process have made it even easier to work towards the accreditation. As well as supporting a vibrant and inclusive club, there are


various other benefits to clubs achieving the Clubmark status, including helping in grant applications and fostering stronger relationships with local authorities and pool operators, as well as supporting membership recruitment and growth. Raj Mistry, Chair of iDive, the latest BSAC club to attain Clubmark, said he would encourage any club to work towards the accreditation. “Clubs that go for Clubmark are shown to have a commitment to developing their club and

their members can be sure that their club strives to offer the best in coaching and development. The accreditation does take some effort, but it is absolutely worth it.” To start the Clubmark process, interested BSAC clubs need to register with Sport England and will then be allocated a mentor to support them through the documentation process. For more information on Clubmark, and how to register, go to


Dive computer updates after explosion THE company behind the OSTC Plus dive computer has issued a warning about the use of non-rechargeable batteries following an incident at the recent Boot boat and watersport show in Germany. The battery compartment lid of an OSTC Plus dive computer was blown off after a non-rechargeable 3.6v battery was inserted on a rechargeable setting, causing it to explode during the charging process. Manufacturer Heinrichs Weikamp has issued a warning to use only rechargeable 3.6v lithium batteries in the OSTC

Plus range to prevent the potential of invalid battery / setting combinations. Any 1.5 Volt disposable batteries are automatically detected by the dive computer and will not be charged, even if the dive computer is set incorrectly and may also be used. The company has reassured customers that this is the first incident of an invalid battery and dive computer setting combination they are aware of, and are now in the process of updating their firmware guidance.

Try Tech returns to Chepstow BSAC’s Try Tech is returning to Chepstow on 18 and 19 May, with two days of all things technical at the National Diving and Activity Centre. Building on the success of previous Try Tech events at Chepstow, Stoney Cove and Vobster, this year’s Try Tech NDAC weekend will offer even more opportunities for BSAC members to have a go at CCR diving or build their existing tech skills. Try Tech is ideal for divers thinking of moving over to CCR, divers looking to get into tech or improve their technical skills or rebreather divers interested in trying out another unit, with sessions available using AP, Poseidon, Liberty and Red Bare. As well as the usual Try Rebreather taster sessions, there’s also a new range of Try Tech experience packages available, including CCR and Scooter Experience (Sports Diver and above), CCR Experience (Sports Diver and above), and Try Tech Skills Experience Day (entry level Ocean Diver). There will also be a social evening, including talks by the BSAC Tech team, at the nearby Huntsman Pub on the Saturday evening (18 May). BSAC Technical Group Leader Sophie Heptonstall said Try Tech NDAC offers the perfect opportunity for the CCR and tech curious to come and have a go.

“This latest Chepstow event is building on the Try Tech event concept in response to growing demand. There will be more opportunities for divers from Ocean Diver and above to explore tech diving and find out more about how to get involved.” Places for the Try Tech sessions can be booked online. Spaces on the Experience packages are limited so early booking advisable. For package prices and to book, as well as more information on Try Tech NDAC 2019 go to Try Tech NDAC is open to both BSAC members and nonmembers alike.



All eyes on Scapa Kirsty Andrews is a huge fan of the Scapa experience, usually visiting every other year. Here, she explains the destination’s special attractions

SCAPA IS A SPECIAL PLACE. An intoxicating mixture of thrilling history, great diving and sheer atmosphere; in my eyes it is unique and peerless. It’s not just the wrecks themselves but the whole experience which makes the trip. Stromness is a diver’s homeland, a place where you can confidently strut down the high street in your woolly onesie undersuit and no-one will bat an eyelid. The excellent museum at Lyness [annoyingly, closed for refurb until 2020 – Ed] is an absolute must-visit and is easy to slot in during a surface interval. There is a photo there that is burned into my memory – of the German fleet at various stages of sinking – 74 vessels at a series of preposterous angles, of which 52 were successfully scuttled. In fact, I have been to that museum so many times I could probably list every exhibit. The tale of the latter stages of the First World War, of the Fleet held hostage and the secret order given to scuttle, is an intriguing one, and of course not the only tale which Scapa Flow can offer. History is everywhere, from driving over the Churchill barriers to visiting the Italian chapel built by prisoners of war. The majority of the German fleet has been salvaged over the years but the salvage story alone is interesting enough to warrant its own book. This year is of course the Centenary year – the anniversary of the Armistice, the end of the Great War and of the Grand Scuttle. One hundred years will have passed, yet this is no junkyard of flattened plates and the odd protruding boiler. The protective Flow safeguards its inhabitants under the waves as well as on them. The battleships still loom large and 24

imposing; dark, deep and bristling with armaments. The light cruisers are more accessible both in depth and allowing divers to fully explore them, upright and proud if starting to sag a little. The blockships don’t have the German heritage but offer their own story and a wonderful dive in shallower depths, bursting with life from currents funnelled through the Flow entrances. The wrecks are not immune to the ageing process, sadly. I tend to visit every couple of years and each time I notice a favourite swim-through gone here, a feature changed there. This is inevitable; the wonder is how intact they have remained so far. In another hundred years the seabed will look quite different. Technology can now help us with this and one of the major recent projects in the Flow is to capture a moment in time through Photogrammetry, enabling 3D

tours of the wrecks in future from the comfort of our living rooms (after our own intrepid wreck exploration dives, of course). When my club runs trips to Scapa we advertise to ‘confident Sports Divers and above’. The battleships are deep, the cruisers best with nitrox ideally and the blockships can have strong currents. With this proviso the Flow can cater to many. A range of day boats and liveaboards exist, from cheap and cheery arrangements to the latest hi-tech and the most detailed wreck briefings I have ever received. There is also increasing competition in the on-board cake department, which I thoroughly approve of. This year, the Centenary year, all eyes are on Scapa, and if you have not visited, I encourage you all to make the pilgrimage to this world-class British diving destination and experience this piece of history for yourselves.


Seeing spots in Scotland Yo-Han Cha is known for his obsessions with particular marine creatures. Here, he details his admiration for a hard-to-find anemone crab ONE OF THE SPECIES I PHOTOGRAPH most often in the UK is the humble hermit crab. They’re very common and I find them extremely charismatic. Despite possessing hundreds of hermit crab photos, I still can’t help myself taking a few more snaps of them on every dive trip and my favourite hermit crab is the anemone crab, Pagurus prideaux. My fascination with the anemone crab started when I first looked up hermit crabs in my British Marine ID book. Much to my surprise, not all hermits are the same species, and this one seemed to stand out from the crowd. Its allure lies in its coat of many colours – it is usually

found with a cloak anemone, Adamsia palliata, which is covered with purple polka dots (I’m sure that’s a scientific term), which make it very photogenic. The crab and the anemone have a symbiotic relationship – the crab is protected by the anemone’s stinging cells, while the anemone benefits by getting food fragments from the crab. Also, the crab doesn’t need to change its shell as often as other hermit crab species, because as the crab grows, the anemone adds layers onto the shell, increasing its size. After seeing images of Pagarus in my ID books, I developed a polka dot obsession

and started checking every little crab in the hope of seeing spots. But for years I never saw one – plenty of hermit crabs but none with an anemone on its back. Then four years ago on a trip to Loch Fyne in February, I spotted my first one! I had to control my excitement as the muddy sea bed of Loch Fyne is easily stirred up, but I’d finally spotted and taken photos of my first Pagurus prideaux. Later that year, I found another one, this time in the Sound of Mull and over the years, the more I’ve dived in Scotland, the more I’ve seen them. My obsession culminated in a January trip to Loch Sunart this year, where I just saw loads (another scientific term) of them. Normally, if I see a Pagurus prideaux, I have to stop and take a photo, even if it’s a bad one, but on my last dive in Loch Sunart, I was in a surreal position of choosing which specimen to concentrate on. This by no means is me saying that there’s a population boom of Pagurus prideaux, but I think I’ve finally got my eye in. If you’d like to see one but haven’t, here’s a few tips: Go diving in Scotland, in particular the sea lochs. If you haven’t already, you should go diving in Scotland because it’s awesome, not just for the Pagurus prideaux, but that’s where I’ve had most luck. Look out for purple polka dots. They’re not something most underwater species have. Along with purple dots on the back, look out for a fuzzy white pompom (that’s the anemone’s tentacles) underneath the crab. If they’re disturbed, the cloak anemone fires out what looks to be silly string. Don’t be the cause of the silly string, but if you see a hermit crab with some, then it’s Pagurus prideaux. 27


The wreck recipe To mark Scapa’s Centenary, Michelle Haywood considers the chemical and biological forces brought to bear on ships when they enter their afterlife under the sea

NO SHIP YARD EVER BUILT A SHIP with the intention that it should end up on the seabed. By design, ships are intended to keep the water on the outside (or in controlled areas such as ballast tanks). From the earliest hollowed logs and coracles to the ocean going supertankers, the aim is to find materials that create a good airspace and allow the vessel, cargo and crew to stay on the surface. As construction methods have evolved, so have the materials that are used. For any vessel owner, the necessary maintenance to keep the water out is an on-going and relentless battle. Once a ship sinks, the process of decay inevitably starts. There are a number of parameters that affect how quickly a wreck will break up. A shallow wreck is exposed to the mechanical shearing forces of wave action and the remarkably destructive scouring of sand. Many wrecks become wrecks because they end up punctured on shorelines. In the battle between the rock and the metal hull, rocks often come out the winner. However, deeper wrecks evade the action of the weather and therefore will remain intact for longer. Any biological material on a wreck will decay very quickly. Body flesh is quickly scavenged by crustacea and fish. The hard matrix of the bones that are left behind is mostly hydroxyapatite (a mixture of calcium and phosphate) which is soluble in the sea and becomes more soluble at depth. This is why the deep ocean isn’t several metres deep in fish and whale bones – they dissolve. The next most fragile structure on any shipwreck is the wooden components. Modern ships with chipboard partitions fare particularly badly once submerged, and can fall apart within a very short space of years. Wood is made up of cellulose and lignin molecules. Cellulose is the main part of the cell wall from the tree that the wood came from. Cellulose isn’t water soluble, but the chains of cellulose are 28

held together by hydrogen bonds which water helps to promote. Surrounding the cellulose chains are lignins. These are complex polymers that give wood rigidity and resist rotting. The levels and type of lignin vary between different species of tree. Teak, the beloved material for decks of many vessels, has a high lignin content, which helps it to resist degradation. For the metal components of a wreck to decay there are several factors that will affect the rate of decay. Salt minerals dissolved in the ocean, particularly sodium chloride (the same stuff you sprinkle on your chips) is a major player. In salt water, metals will corrode about five times faster than in fresh water. Salts break into charged ions which allow the conduction of electricity and metal ions from the ship will enter the water, gradually thinning the metal plates of the hull. Salinity levels can vary massively depending on the location. A nearby source of freshwater can reduce decay. Salinity is maximum at the surface and decreases down to 500 metres, although it rises again around 2500 metres down.

Oxygen levels in the water will also affect the rate of decay. Oxygen reacts with metals to produce metal oxides; for example, iron reacts to produce iron oxide – better known as rust. Metal oxides are weaker than the metal they derive from. So gradually the layer of metal turns to rust, which will thin the metal hull even further. Oxygen levels are at a maximum near the surface and decrease down to about 1000m, and then they increase with depth. Finally, let’s consider temperature. A higher water temperature means all the water molecules are moving faster and at a molecular level, all these reactions occur more quickly. Therefore, deeper wrecks in colder waters will have a slower decay pathway – and remain more intact for us divers to enjoy for longer. So for a shipwreck to survive, we require a well-constructed, high quality metal in thick sheets, sunk in fairly cold water, deep enough to avoid wave action and sand scouring, so somewhere sheltered would be ideal… welcome to the wrecks of Scapa Flow!

Michelle Haywood is a longstanding BSAC member who runs her own dive centre in Port St Mary on the Isle of Man. She is also the Diving Officer of her branch, which encompasses six-year-old snorkellers to hardcore technical divers. A First Class Diver and Instructor Trainer, she regularly visits the entire range of Manx sites.


Torbet on the Tube:

Right to roam? As snorkellers, do we have an automatic right to jump in the water wherever we fancy? Andy Torbet weighs up the issue of access

WE SNORKELLERS HAVE THE freedom of the seas and oceans, of the rivers and lakes. We can explore any part of the underwater world within our personal limits. Or can we? Although we have the freedom of most parts of the seas around Britain, we may not always have a right to access a particular stretch of sea. Nor do we necessarily have a right to snorkel in the waterways of Britain, or to access the shores or banks. So where do we sit with regards to access rights? The right to access land and waters in Britain is fraught with complexities. Here, I have attempted to simplify the laws and bylaws, and give some general rules as they apply to most situations that a snorkeller may come across. 30

The coast In England and Wales, anything below the low water line is fair game and is managed by Crown Estates. More than half the foreshore (the area between the low and high-water marks) is also managed by the Crown and allows non-commercial access to all. The issue is whether or not the land that leads to the foreshore allows access. If a public road exists, then there should be no problem. Despite the fact that almost half our beaches are privately owned, it is very rare not to have open access – unless otherwise stated, it is generally accepted that permission exists. Exception includes military firing ranges when in use, areas restricted due to sensitive wildlife or very

small sections of our coastline that are effectively someone’s back garden. Scotland’s approach to its waters is similar to that of the land, in that it is much more open than England and Wales. The Land Reform Act (Scotland) 2003 states statutory access to most of the country. You have a right to access any part of the coastline unless there are specific restrictions in place. Such restrictions are very rare; when they are in place it is usually to protect or seal off a conservation area.

Rivers and lakes Legally, the water isn’t owned but the land bordering the water belongs either to an organisation, family or individual. Less than five per cent of England and

SCUBA HUB Wales’ fresh water has public navigation rights, which includes snorkelling (similar in concept to Rights of Way paths on land). However, websites such as are great resources for finding out where access is permitted. Most of this hard research has been done by canoeists, but we can benefit from their work. In Scotland the rules are again more inviting. You effectively have access to any freshwater site and the land that borders it, unless it’s someone’s garden. There are exceptions, but these are usually for safety reasons and are best adhered to for your own self-preservation. Have a look at for guidance. It should go without saying, but I will anyway – the right to access these lands and waters is not without some personal obligation. We still have to follow the code of conduct, which sets out rules for responsible behaviour.

A sensible approach

Top left: Coastal waters below low water are open to all Far left: A safe entry and exit point is paramount Left: Less than five per cent of English waterways have public navigation rights

Above: If the foreshore has a public road, then access should be no problem Below: Don’t interfere with wildlife

The reality, in my experience, is much more optimistic. I have snorkelled just about every conceivable type of water the length and breadth of the UK, and have yet to encounter a single issue with access. I steer clear of private property where my presence could be a nuisance, or ask permission first. I choose remote areas where landowners are not concerned with occasional visitors. I ensure zero impact on the land and it’s use (for instance, avoiding fishing areas in season; not disturbing livestock; not interfering with boat traffic). I take care not to damage anything on my way to and from the water, and I treat those I encounter with the same respect we’d all expect. With the application of a little common sense, people are supportive and curious rather than confrontational. Make sure you leave the landscape as you found it, or maybe improve it. Perhaps there is a gate left open or litter on the beach or riverbank, in which case try and leave that world a little better for your passing. For more information on snorkelling with BSAC go to Looking to introduce snorkelling into your club? Find out more at



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Each month we will be featuring a selection of your letters with our monthly star letter receiving a fantastic prize. Send your letters to

Ray of sunshine

Since Matt Doggett’s article about rays appeared in February’s SCUBA we have been flattered by the number requests to help the Undulate Ray Project. Since our early days in club diving, we have been strong supporters of club projects and the sense of comradeship and achievement that brings. We fully appreciate that getting to Dorset is not the easiest undertaking from many parts of the country, but there are a couple of ways that even those based in Scotland can contribute, though perhaps not specifically undulate rays. We have always been convinced that our site is not unique, it is only the last year which has shown evidence that there is a congregation of undulate rays off Chesil Beach. We often see photographs of thornback rays near Helford and we have been told of an area in the Salcombe Estuary. If a club were to take on one of these areas, we would give them our full support. The Great Eggcase Hunt was mentioned – to check it out go to and click on the ‘Citizen Science’ tab. If you take a look at their results page you will see from the thousands of contributions, there are very few underwater reportings; most of those are of cat sharks whose ‘twiddly bits’ you find wrapped around weed or corals. This leaves us with the big question of where rays lay their eggs? Ray eggs do not have ‘twiddly bits’ – when they are laid, they are very sticky and adhere to the surface rather than becoming entwined for stability. If divers could look out for eggs underwater, photograph them and report it to the Great Eggcase Hunt it would be a fantastic contribution. Happy hunting! Sheilah Openshaw, Undulate Ray Project


WIN THIS COMPUTER! Every month, the best letter wins an Aqualung i300C, an intuitive dive computer with four operating modes, Bluetooth connectivity and the ability to switch between three gases underwater. For more Aqualung goodness, go to 32

More problems with mouthpieces Last year you printed an interesting article on identifying mouthpiece pain (In the Mix SCUBA #81, August 2018) which has prompted me to write to you about another mouthpiece issue, one that I, and no doubt many others, experience – the gag reflex, or rather hypersensitivity to this natural safeguarding action. The gag reflex (or pharyngeal reflex or spasm) is a rapid contraction of the back of the throat caused by touching various parts of the buccal cavity including the back of the throat, the back of the tongue and areas around the tonsils (if you have them). This reflex is designed to protect against dangerous objects and substances entering the airway, but can be a problem if you are hypersensitive. With this condition the reflex can be stimulated by brushing teeth, touching gums and the roof of the mouth. Consequently, visits to the dentist can become difficult. It can also affect diving, as an inappropriate mouthpiece may cause the reflex to kick in. Mouthpieces come in a variety of designs, some of which are more likely to be problematical – the ‘long bite’, cushioned and tooth-covering designs are more likely to over-stimulate the surrounding mouth areas and cause gagging. So in addition to selecting a good mouthpiece to minimize pain it is necessary to select one that also minimizes or better still doesn’t allow, the gag reflex. As well as selecting a mouthpiece that minimizes the potential affect of gagging the mouth can be desensitized. Gerald Legg, Sussex Editor’s response: Thanks for raising our awareness of this condition, Gerald. SCUBA would like to hear from anyone who has experienced this problem with the gag reflex in conjunction with diving mouthpieces


Rafting for the RNLI Wirral’s ripe reprobates Divers from around Derbyshire came together for the annual Matlock Rafting Event, held late last year, raising £1,760 for the RNLI. This was the 57th year of the event, and the weather was kind on the day. There were 26 participating rafts, each reflecting the design visions of their creators. Over the years this event has raised more than £120,000 for the RNLI, and we plan to keep going. Thanks to our sponsors, to Matlock Council and to BSAC for helping to insure the event. I am already planning this year’s 2019 event – we always need marshals and help with the clear-up afterwards. Please contact me on 07813 207 944 or email if you’d like to get involved in any way. Stephen Eyre, Derbyshire Association of Sub-Aqua Clubs

Our group of 15 Wirral SAC members has just returned from a very enjoyable trip to Thailand, diving sites around the Surin and Similan Islands, Koh Bon and Richelieu Rock. We were blessed with excellent conditions, brilliant visibility, manageable currents and abundant marine life (including a plethora of nudibranchs). Some of the dives – Richelieu Rock and Elephant Head in particular – now feature in our top-20 list of all-time favourites. ‘But so what?’ you may say. ‘Lots of dive groups have enjoyed great liveaboard safaris in these waters.’ Granted. But how many of them have had an average age of 66, and included six septuagenarians? The chief dive guide on our boat announced that we were the ‘most mature’ group

Date set for Torbay Splash-In Torbay BSAC’s ‘Splash-In’ photography competition will be on Saturday 29 June at various sites in Torbay. The event office will be at the harbour in Torquay. The categories will be: Wide angle Close up and macro Compact cameras – Wide angle, close up and macro Beginners

K&E’s golden diver

Brian Deluce celebrated his 50th year as member of the Kingston and Elmbridge Sub-Aqua Club (KESAC) towards the end of 2018. In recognition of his contributions as a club member, Brian was presented with

she had ever had the pleasure of leading, showing that being long in the tooth need not be a barrier to adventurous diving. As the great bard might have said: ‘If swimming six lengths makes you wheeze, if you sometimes get pains in your knees, and if sex is a bore, you’re not old, just mature – like a very ripe Camembert cheese.’ Mike Horgan, Wirral SAC

an engraved diver’s helmet trophy at the Annual Dinner Dance. Brian is currently K&E’s President and has held nearly every office in the club and committee. He is an Advanced Instructor and Instructor Trainer and remains active within the branch and region. He instructs on the Diver Training Programme and Skill Development Courses and oversees try dives. From a young age Brian enjoyed the sea, having been a member of T.S Steadfast Sea Cadets, aged 11, joining KESAC and learning to dive at 18, then joining the Navy at 23 serving on several submarines (HMS Alliance, Onslaught and finally HMS Ocelot) as Radio Electrician and Ship’s Diver. Brian’s passion for diving has taken him and his wife Shirley all over the world, but UK diving has been at the heart of his and his family’s life over the last 50 years. Thank you, Brian, for your commitment to Kingston and Elmbridge BSAC. Nathan Targett, Kingston & Elmbridge BSAC

The competition rules will be posted on There will be a modest entrance fee and the club is seeking sponsorship from commercial organisations. Local photographer Terry Griffiths will be giving a talk with pictures at an evening presentation. See website for more information. Richard Blair, Chair, Torbay BSAC

The call of the Kiwis Kiwi Divers kickstarted the New Year with Weymouth hardboat Scimitar – chartered for the first weekend of 2019. We had a few problems filling the boat at first, possibly associated with the ropes-off time of 7.30am, but with a few emails sent to neighbouring clubs we filled the places. We had divers from Kiwi SAC, Andover SAC, RAF Odium, High Wycombe and Lossiemouth. We had an awesome dive day! For the first dive we hit the M2, a cracking little aircraft submarine sitting upright at 36m. Dive two was a scenic drift. The skipper was great, serving up mugs of hot drinks, pasties for lunch and snacks. This dive would not have happened had it not been for the underpinning and embracing ethos of BSAC – diving with friends. Neasa Braham, Kiwi Divers



DIARY Develop your diving with BSAC Our Course Diary lists all the current Instructor and Skill Development Courses available for the next few months.

Become a BSAC Instructor! From Sports Diver, you can start training to become an instructor with BSAC. Your first step is the Instructor Foundation Course which qualifies you as an Assistant Diving Instructor. From here you can progress to Open Water Instructor and beyond… to Advanced and National Instructor. For the full list of BSAC Instructor grades and courses, go to Skill Development Courses BSAC offers a wide range of special interest courses, designed to ensure you get the very best out of your diving. With each course usually one or two days long, our programme of Skill Development Courses (SDCs) are regularly held by Regional Coaching Teams, BSAC Centres and can also be staged in clubs. So, whether your interest is in rescue, wrecks, technical or photography, there is a BSAC specialist course for everybody. For the definitive list of all BSAC’s Skill Development Courses go to




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Scotland / TBA Eastern / TBA Midlands / NDAC Ireland / TBA South / TBA North West / Macclesfield North West / Capernwray Wales / TBA Scotland / TBA London / Wraysbury Tbc / Capernwray Or Cromhall Wales / TBA London / Wraysbury

Open Water Instructor Course Theory Instructor Exam Technical Instructor Course First Class Diver Project Prep First Class Diver Project Prep Theory Instructor Exam Practical Instructor Exam Prep Practical Instructor Exam Prep First Class Diver Project Prep Open Water Instructor Course National Instructor Open Water Prep Open Water Instructor Course Practical Instructor Exam Prep




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Midlands / Stoney Cove Eastern / Stoney Cove North West / Capernwray Wales / TBA North West / Capernwray Midlands / Stoney Cove Midlands / Stoney Cove South / Portland Ireland / TBA Scotland / TBA Ireland / TBA London / Wraysbury

Instructor Foundation Course Open Water Instructor Course Open Water Instructor Course Practical Instructor Exam Practical Instructor Exam Open Water Instructor Course Practical / Theory Instructor Exam National Instructor Prep (Hardboat) Practical / Theory Instructor Exam Practical / Theory Instructor Exam Open Water Instructor Course Practical / Theory Instructor Exam




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South West / Vobster North East / Ellerton North West / Capernwray North East / Ellerton Ireland / TBA South West / Plymouth Ireland / TBA South West / Portland Scotland / TBA Wales / TBA Wales / TBA South West / Plymouth South West / Plymouth

Instructor Development Course Practical / Theory Instructor Exam Instructor Development Course Open Water Instructor Course Advanced Instructor Course First Class Diver Exam First Class Diver Expedition Prep National Instructor Prep (Softboat) First Class Diver Expedition Prep Advanced Instructor Course Advanced Instructor Exam Practical / Theory Instructor Exam Open Water Instructor Course


TWIN-SET DIVER BSAC’s Twin-set Diver is a great course not only to extend your gas supplies but also as a first introduction to the equipment used for safer planned decompression diving. It’s a stand-alone course that also complements and supports the Accelerated Decompression Procedures (ADP). Twin-set Diver introduces an experienced club diver to the theme of self-sufficiency within buddy diving. You will learn how to become your own first port of call in an emergency and understand the equipment needed for this. To enrol on the Twin-set Diver course you must have already successfully completed a BSAC Sports Diver course with a 35m depth certification (or have equivalent certification from another recognised training agency including decompression and rescue capabilities). Development of your knowledge on twin-set diving includes kit configuration, how to respond to kit failure and ancillary equipment stowage. Practical twin-set diving techniques, including gas isolation and shut-down drills with multi-contingent dive planning for more adventurous diving including run-time schedules. The Twin-set Diver course includes four theory sessions, a dry practical session and a dive-planning session. It also includes a sheltered-water lesson, and two open-water dives with planned run times of between 25 and 40 minutes (to a maximum depth of 35m or within your qualification), to ensure that you have plenty of in-water time to practise the skills and discipline needed for twin-set diving. For more information on available events, when and where they are being held then search for ‘Twin-set Diver’ at Geoff Bacon, Diving Support Advisor (BSAC HQ)







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Wales / TBA East Midlands / Stoney Cove South East / TBA Wales / TBA Wales / TBA Wales / TBA North West / Portland South East / TBA Ireland / TBA North East / TBA North West / Fleetwood East Midlands / Stoney Cove North East / TBA North East / TBA Yorkshire / Eight Acres North East / Wast Water North East / Capernwray North West / Capernwary London / Stoney Cove Wales / TBA Yorkshire / Whitby East Midlands / TBA West Midlands / Cromhall Quarry Wales / TBA

Accelerated Decompression Procedures Advanced Diver Practicals (A01 & A02) Diver Training Day (Ocean Diver) Sports Mixed Gas (50m) & Explorer Mixed Gas (60m) - (CCR) Sports Mixed Gas (50m) & Explorer Mixed Gas (60m) - (OC) Twinset Diver & Accelerated Decompression Procedures Diver Training Weekend Diver Training Day (Sport Diver) Dive Planning & Management Boat Handling Boat Handling Buoyancy & Trim Workshop Chartwork & Position Fixing Diver Coxswain Assessment Buoyancy & Trim Workshop Buoyancy & Trim Workshop Twinset Diver Diver Training Day Accelerated Decompression Procedures Boat Handling Boat Handling Chartwork & Position Fixing Practical Rescue Management Diver Coxswain Assessment




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Scotland South / Arrochar North East / Capernwray South West / Falmouth East Midlands / Stoney Cove South West / Plymouth North East / Capernwray Eastern / Guildenburgh West Midlands / Cromhall Quarry Eastern / Stoney Cove East Midlands / TBA North West / Fleetwood North West / Capernwray North West / Capernwray North West / Capernwray North East / Wast Water Scotland South / TBC Southern / Chepstow

Accelerated Decompression Procedures Diver Training Day CCR Inspiration / Evolution Diver Accelerated Decompression Procedures Wreck Diver Accelerated Decompression Procedures Practical Rescue Management Diver Training Day (Dive Leader) Accelerated Decompression Procedures Compressor Operation Diver Coxswain Assessment Buoyancy & Trim Workshop CCR Inspiration / Evolution Diver Accelerated Decompression Procedures Advanced Lifesaver Award Advanced Lifesaver Award Twinset Diver & Accelerated Decompression Procedures




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East Midlands / TBA Ireland / TBA North West / Portland Yorkshire / Eight Acres South East / TBA North West / Southport East Midlands / Plymouth North West / Southport London / Guildenburgh West Midlands / Sutton Coldfield Yorkshire / TBC

Search and Recovery Diver Training Day Diver Training Weekend Practical Rescue Management Buoyancy & Trim Workshop Oxygen Administration Dive Leader with Accelerated Decompression Diving Practical Rescue Management Twinset Diver Advanced Diver Theory Workshop Accelerated Decompression Procedures


HOW TO BOOK: For Instructor courses and exams, you can book online at Alternatively, you can call Central Bookings on +44 (0)151 350 6205 or email 35


Pontefract BSAC This Yorkshire branch has proved that despite hard times club members can turn decline into success. Interview by Kristina Pedder

PEOPLE DON’T THINK ABOUT SCUBA diving when thinking about taking up a new sport or activity in the middle of the English county of Yorkshire. But the members of Pontefract Scuba Club believe you just need to put diving on their radar to drum up some interest, and that’s what they have done. Living proof, they say, that scuba diving is only in decline in the UK because divers let it be. Below: Club boats ready to launch from Oban


Membership Fees: £162 plus BSAC

Contact: 07751 837 881 or Online: F Pontefract Scuba Club

Where are you based? We meet every Monday at 8pm at either Pontefract pool or the Olde Tavern, on Baileygate, alternating between pool and social nights. Isn’t Pontefract famous for liquorice? Yes, and for the last two years we have been out and about at the Pontefract



Above left: Vice Chair Ami tries on Steve Sanders’ helmet at the 2018 Norfest Festival Above: Ami without the helmet doing a medusa impression in Capernwrayy Left: Club boats returning from a successful dive in the Farne Islands

Did that pay off? Yes, our new website ranks as the first search result for any search for scuba diving in Pontefract, this is supported by a Google business listing which, again, is actively maintained. We rank highly if not top for similar searches for other local towns.

Liquorice Festival, a summer event that draws many thousands of people from the Wakefield area each year. It wasn’t easy to get in on the festival – what does scuba diving have to do with liquorice? – but after battling to get accepted that first year, we were accepted the second year without much hassle and we’ve actually been invited back in 2019. We run an active stall with things for adults and kids to do and, funnily enough, we’ve recruited quite a few members from the event. You have also been in the news lately… Yes, we won the BSAC Marine Clean 2018 photo competition and in November we received our prize, a fabulous Apeks regulator that we will be using with our try divers. We carried out a large beach clean at Withernsea; all our members turned out for it. Despite being one of BSAC’s longer-lived branches, in existence since 1953, we were relatively unknown before that. We really didn’t do anything or celebrate any of our successes. Hopefully this will change now, as we are

seriously considering making a Heinke Trophy application. That’s the trophy awarded to the club that has done the most to further the interests of its members and of BSAC. What made you want to enter? The only focus we have at the moment is growing our club and getting as much diving in as possible. We’ve worked extremely hard over the last two years to turn our fortunes around and go from a club that was waning and unknown to being a large strong club with a decent regional presence and growing brand. What did you do after that? In 2017, we did all the legwork for 2018. First we changed our club name (from Pontefract BSAC to Pontefract Scuba Club) to be more searchable on Google. We redesigned our logo, set up a new website, cleaned up our Facebook page and made it more professional, with a separate private group created for club banter.

What else did you do? We got some help from BSAC HQ to tweak our website. We prominently display a contact form, email address and phone number on the website with plenty of calls to action. Also, we take messages through Facebook. We aim to respond within four hours to all contacts. We have up-to-date info on the BSAC club finder tool now, as well as an Instagram feed. Has your marketing become completely digital? No, we also use more traditional methods to advertise ourselves. We have a notice board in our pool and we have made really good use of the banners provided by HQ. We had the free one but also ordered three more. What do you do with all of them? In January 2018 we hit hard with our self-promotion. The banners have been strategically placed around town in places where there is nothing else to look at: while waiting for traffic lights to change; outside our pool; outside the Xscape Yorkshire sports and activity centre (at 37

CLUB FOCUS Below: Andy ‘Corky’ Wilcox enjoying some warm water diving on a trip to Malta

Junction 32 of the M62). We move them around to see what works, and monitor the analytics on the website to see what is happening with traffic after each move. And what has been the effect of all this? The response has been brilliant and people followed the trail we left for them. They saw the banner, searched on Google, found the website and Facebook page and then contacted us. We were non-stop with try-dives all year, we’ve attracted qualified divers and we’ve trained the largest number of people for years. In four weeks across November-December for example, we signed up seven members to the club: three trainees and four qualified divers. We expect to be a 50-member club by 2019, around double the size we were a year ago. Has the club lived up to new members’ expectations? We hope so. One thing that we had to do alongside the marketing was a big drive to make sure that our club was the best it could be and a totally safe place. We have implemented Buddyguard – the BSAC safeguarding policy – fully. We live and breathe the ethos of being a great place for young and vulnerable people. As part of this, we were awarded Clubmark accreditation in March 2018.

Who are your members? They are a mixed group who range in age from 14 to 70. At last count we had nine trainees, eight Ocean Divers, nine Sports Divers, eight Dive Leaders and four Advanced Divers. Who delivers the training? We have four Assistant Diving Instructors, two Assistant Open Water Instructors, three Open Water Instructors Left: Andy Wilcox showing off his muscles on a trip to Portland

and a Snorkelling Instructor. Training tends to be one-to-one and arranged to suit the trainee / instructor, as we all have busy lives. We have tried group training, but it only worked well for a married couple, who could always turn up together. We are going to try a group again with a couple of friends who signed up recently. We must thank the training team as they are all enthusiastic and keen and good at communicating if they can’t make a training session or need help; they are all brilliant.

Below left: Crossover diver Gary Hill getting ready for a dive at Trefor Below: Rob Holgate getting zipped up before heading to the Farne Islands


CLUB FOCUS Are there any particular problems you encounter delivering training? Diver progression is hampered at the moment because our recruitment drive delivered lots of Ocean Diver trainees. As a result, our instructors are all tied up with them and we risk neglecting our three Sports Diver trainees, three Dive Leader trainees and one Advanced Diver trainee. Do you run any Skill Development Courses? We have run oxygen administration courses and boat handling is always popular, as we have two RIBs. Members will hopefully benefit from SDCs in a newly revitalised Yorkshire region in 2019. How much diving does the club organise? We dive all over the UK, from the northernmost reaches of Scotland to the South Coast. Through the season we have at least two weekend trips a month, as well as plenty of ad hoc days to inland sites or nearby local favourites – such as Flamborough, Bridlington and Whitby – when the weather is good. Including our

winter diving, we provide about 86 days of organised dives, including 14 weekend trips and four week-long trips. Our weeklong ventures last year were in Oban, Ullapool, Malta and Egypt. There is a club trip to Indonesia planned for 2020 and South Africa for 2021. How much do you use your boats? Much of our diving is from our two RIBs. We are looking at a Sport England grant to raise funds for a new engine for our second RIB, which is getting on a bit now and suffering poor reliability. This year we have spent more than £3,000 on boat and trailer repairs and maintenance: new EPIRBs for the boats, a new oxygen kit and replacement parts for our other kit. We also use charter boats in places like the Farne Islands or St Abbs and Eyemouth. In 2020 we have a week in Scapa Flow booked and filled. What is the club planning for the next few years? Continued growth and more diving.

We’re really keen to work with other clubs. So we’re looking at working with the recently rejuvenated Yorkshire Regional Team to help other clubs grow. This involves offering real support rather than just advice, especially in helping run a club and create and maintain an online presence. We will soon have to make a decision on what we are going to do for a clubhouse, as we are outgrowing the pub where we meet. So that will be one of the big talking points for the next 12 months. Anything else you’d like to say? There are people out there who want to become your members and learn to dive and come diving with you. You just need to put a bit of effort into doing what it takes to get yourself noticed, and let them know you’re there. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from other local clubs who have already done it. Why should we all be sat around re-inventing the wheel every time? It’s not a competition between clubs – we’re all one club, and we’re happy to help you out if you need it.

Above left: New trainee Faye having a good time at the Christmas party Above: Rob and Alan check a cuff seal while new boat handler Erin waits patiently Left: Neil, Ami, Martin and family member Sarah at the Christmas party 41


Good wreck diving Inspired by diving the German fleet wrecks, the salvage sites and the blockships of Orkney, First Class Diver Kristina Pedder has some tips to help develop your wreck diving skills. Photography by Steve Jones


rkney has an outstanding collection of remnants from the two World Wars, both on land and underwater. Where better to practise your wreck diving skills than on the amazing marine heritage in the great natural harbour of Scapa Flow, where the First World War German High Seas Fleet was scuttled in June 1919.



Shipwrecks across the world range from those that look as if they could sail away

right now to those that have completely collapsed into a pile of scrap metal; but once they all shared similar features. If you know a little about the basic structure of a ship, it is surprising what you can recognise among the scrap and discover about the ship’s past. Looking around the WW1 German wrecks in Orkney, it’s obvious that some features such as funnels decay quickly, others such as sternposts, rudders and engines are made of stronger stuff. The armour plating on the battleships scuttled there in 1919 is as thick as the day it was made, even if the rivets that hold the 12-inch (30cm) thick plates on are

decaying and the massive steel slabs are sliding towards the seabed. It is truly amazing that some delicate objects, such as the search light irises seen on several Scapa sites, survive today. So, before you even enter the water, take advantage of those shipwreck geeks in your club and get them to show you around. When you can identify the typical features of a stern or find the engine and know where the boilers and propeller shaft will be, you can get your bearings.

Above: bow of SMS Cöln

Above: Boiler from SMS Dresden’s pinnace Right: Searchlight iris on the Brummer



All wreck belongs to someone; often a shipping company, insurer or the Crown. Some wrecks are protected by special laws, as part of our heritage, and you need to obtain a licence to dive them. The seven remaining wrecks of the German fleet in Scapa Flow are protected as scheduled monuments at present, meaning that visitors can dive them on a ‘look but don’t touch’ basis. ‘Wreck’ is a technical term: it can be defined as any ship, aircraft or hovercraft found in or on the sea, the shore or tidal waters. It includes the vessel and its cargo, equipment and possessions carried on board, along with flotsam (floating goods), lagan and jetsam (goods cast overboard, with or without hope of recovery) and derelict (property abandoned without hope of recovery). As a wreck diver, if you follow the seven points of the multi-agency Respect

Our Wrecks policy, you won’t go far wrong. If you are interested in project work on a wreck, think about getting specialist training (see Skill Development box). If you are working with artefacts, the BSAC Divers Code of Conduct explains when to contact the Receiver of Wreck or the Marine Management Organisation, and you can learn more by doing the BSAC Wreck Appreciation Skill Development Course.



Wreck diving can be hazardous, but the risks can be mitigated. Some hazards are to do with the wreckage: you may snag your kit or puncture your suit on sharp metal; there may be unexploded ordnance around and wrecks attract fish and therefore fishing gear, such 43

LEARNING CURVE as lines and nets, which you can become entangled in. Others are more to do with you, including becoming disoriented in poor viz, which could lead to unintended penetration, or you might become so absorbed in the wreck that you forget to monitor your decompression, gas or your buddy. To avoid this, adhere to safe diving practices.



When wreck diving, it is best to only carry what you need; find out what on the Wreck Diving SDC. Unnecessary kit only adds drag and affects gas consumption, so streamline yourself: secure your hoses

and gauges close in to avoid snagging; carry loose items such as delayed surface marker buoys in pockets and not festooned about you like decorations on a Christmas tree. If you are planning to penetrate the wreck, you will need a redundant breathing gas supply – a pony cylinder, stage or twinset – as you may not be able to easily reach your buddy. You may be carrying an alternate source with a longer than usual hose, so make sure that you practise out-of-gas drills with that configuration. In low viz, you may need to lay a line as a guide; it’s best to have a dedicated wreck reel with plenty of line on it. Easily accessible cutters of some kind are essential and if you have to cut the line you won’t be losing your surface

marker capability. You’ll need a torch, and a backup, to get the most from all the nooks and crannies in the wreck and maybe a strobe to mark the shotline.



Most wreck dives begin on a shotline leading down to the wreck and there is an etiquette to follow, for example ascending divers, who may need to be at a certain depth on time to carry out decompression stops for example, always have priority on the line. Good diving practice, good diving skills and an extra awareness of your surroundings will make your wreck diving more enjoyable. Silt can easily accumulate in the shelter of wrecks and conditions can be quite different from the open water nearby. You can learn ways of moving around a wreck that cause less disturbance, such as the exotically named slow flutter kick, frog kicks, shadow finning and helicopter turns. Good buoyancy is key and it’s essential not to dislodge any wreckage, which could trap you or your buddy. Wreck penetration isn’t just a matter of popping in through a hole either, you always need to know where your Left: Practising out-of-gas scenarios in your chosen configuration Below: 150mm (5.9inch) main gun on the Karlsruhe


exit is: good practice can be learned in a controlled environment on the Wreck Appreciation SDC, and then you will be ready to extend your skills. The wrecks of the German fleet were sunk 100 years ago and they are showing their age. Areas that could be entered before are collapsing, but the decay is revealing areas previously not accessible to divers, so there is much to explore still.



Whether you are diving a WW2 blockship or a WW1 battleship, you need a dive plan. On wrecks the size of the battleships Markgraf, Kronprinz Wilhelm and König there is so much to see that it will take you several dives just to get your bearings and visit the highlights, so you’ll

need a navigation plan too. Don’t forget your gas management plan: use the rule of thirds, or on more demanding dives make a full run-time plan. Wreck diving involves teamwork and there may be tasks to be carried out, such as deploying a decompression station or providing surface support. As always, plan the dive and dive the plan.



To help with planning, find out as much as you can about the wreck before you dive. You can find wreck tours in dive books and magazines, and a sketch of the wreck or a detailed sonar image really is worth a thousand words. These days you might even find a 3D interactive wreck tour, such as those of the German fleet wrecks made available online by the Scapa 100 project. Wreck research can be exciting and rewarding; more detailed historical information can be Below: Torpedo storage tube on SMS Cöln’s torpedo launcher

Above: Base for a trigonometry device that would have calibrated the gun aiming sights on SMS Cöln


LEARNING CURVE found in the National Maritime Museum, Lloyds Register of Shipping and other national libraries.



Your interest in a wreck might begin with a simple 2D site survey to identify the major features and help plan further dives. If you make a significant discovery you might end up working with experts to map and recover unique artefacts. Basic techniques are taught on the Wreck Appreciation SDC and the Nautical Archaeology Society runs specialist courses for recreational divers. Why not start a club project to learn more about your favourite wrecks, or search for new ones? There is potential grant support available from the British Sub Aqua Jubilee Trust. BSAC has launched its Scapa 100 expedition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the scuttling of the German High Seas fleet at Scapa Flow at the end of the First World War. The actual anniversary is 21 June 2019 but the idea is to encourage groups of BSAC divers to visit Scapa, dive the wrecks and scrap-yard sites from both local hard boats and from club RIBs throughout the year. SMS Cöln, one of the four German cruisers remaining underwater, is the BSAC’s sponsored wreck and all the data gathered by divers will contribute to the Scapa 100 online virtual library. The aim is to support the local community by raising the profile of the underwater heritage at Scapa Flow and to raise funds for local charities.

Below: A crab amid anemones on the side of SMS Cöln



You don’t have to be a wreck junkie to enjoy a wreck dive, there is plenty of room for wildlife enthusiasts too. Wrecks are home to an abundance of marine life often combining many and varied habitats in close proximity. Here it is easy to see marine creatures living their lives. There are potential hazards too as marine life has a range of defence mechanisms at its disposal, so as usual the best policy is look and don’t touch. As well as

preserving wreck sites for their part in our history, we should think about conserving the marine life that lives in and among them. What better experience after touring the 12-inch guns of the battleship Kronprinz Wilhelm near the seabed than to swim across the vegetative turf gardens in the sunlight at 12m on the top of the upturned hull and be buzzed by local seals, as I was in Scapa last autumn. Remember a responsible wreck diver takes only photographs… or site measurements… or marine life surveys.

Below: Guard rail on SMS Brummer’s Bridge

Skill development WRECK DIVING SDC The Wreck Diving Skill Development Course is for those interested in learning practical wreck diving skills. On this two-day course you will learn how to plan and carry out a non-penetration wreck dive. You will learn about types of wrecks and wreck law, and about the equipment needed for wreck diving and how to use it, including line-laying skills. For: Sports Divers (or equivalent). WRECK APPRECIATION SDC The Wreck Appreciation SDC will enhance your enjoyment of wreck dives and give you the basic skills to develop a wreck project of your own. On this two-day course you will learn how to find information on wreck sites and how to stay within the laws protecting wrecks. Practical underwater work includes how to identify the parts of a wreck and make basic site sketches, and learning about the additional equipment needed and techniques used for safer wreck diving, including working with reels and lines. For: Ocean Divers (or equivalent). FOR MORE INFORMATION SDCs: Nautical Archaeology Society: Wreck law: BSAC Scapa project: Scapa 100:



The day the fleet went down Acclaimed author and historian Rod Macdonald brings together the extraordinary events that led to the greatest act of maritime suicide the world has ever seen


t was 100 years ago this year, on 21 June 1919, that 74 Imperial German Navy warships, interned under British guard at Scapa Flow seven months earlier when the Armistice halted the hostilities of the Great War, scuttled en-masse. Today three 25,390-ton König-class battleships, König, Kronprinz Wilhelm and Markgraf; three 5,531-ton light cruisers, Dresden, Cöln and Karlsruhe; the 4,315ton minelaying cruiser Brummer and the 924-ton torpedo boat destroyer V83, still rest in the depths of Scapa Flow – along with the four great 1,020-ton 15-inch gun turrets of the battleship Bayern and assorted masts, spotting tops, guns, pinnaces and other pieces, left on the bottom as the majority of the scuttled fleet was raised in the coming decades. Let’s jump back 100 years to see what happened…

June 21, 1919 Dawn. The slow, creeping arrival of daylight filtering over the horizon to the east heralded the beginning of another

beautiful day at the deep naval anchorage of Scapa Flow, a dramatic and windswept expanse of water some 12 miles across that is almost completely encircled by the islands of Orkney. Shielded on all sides from the fury of the Atlantic by its islands, the sea in this natural harbour was calm, with just a slight chop. Light clouds were scattered across a clear sky. The coming of daylight unveiled a majestic and formidable sight, yet one that local Orcadians had become used to over the preceding seven months. For there, at anchor in Scapa Flow, lay 74 grey interned warships of the Imperial German Navy’s High Seas Fleet. Their internment had been demanded by the Allies as a condition of the Armistice that halted the hostilities of the First World War on 11 November 1918. The larger battlecruisers were anchored in a north-south row on the west side of the island of Cava – whereas the massive battleships lay in the deep water to the north east of Cava with the cruisers moored further east in shallower water.

The smaller torpedo boats were moored in neat rows south of the island of Cava and down Gutter Sound to the west of island of Fara. These great grey German warships lay motionless at anchor, dominating the skyline with their very size and dwarfing the smaller tender vessels that chugged around them. The powerful High Seas Fleet warships had not been surrendered to the British. Instead, its finest vessels had been ‘interned’ at Scapa Flow for those seven long months as a condition of the Armistice.

The passage of steel German military leaders were pressing for surrender terms with the Allies – and the High Seas Fleet was a pawn in those negotiations. It had survived the war relatively intact and could still pose a very real threat to the Allies if the peace negotiations and Armistice were to break down and hostilities recommence. In effect, the High Seas Fleet was being held hostage.

Above: A contemporary drawing indicating the positions of the German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow, with a panoramic photo of the same scene 48

SCAPA 100 After the Armistice was called, the German ships to be interned were directed to proceed to a rendezvous point 40 nautical miles east of May Island in the Firth of Forth at 0800 on 21 November 1918. No indication had yet been given for the fleet’s ultimate destination. As the German battle line arrived at the rendezvous point, in a spectacular display of naval power, the full might of the British Grand Fleet was present. The Grand Fleet split into two lines of battleships and battlecruisers – six miles apart and stretching out of sight into the distance – and the German warships sailed into the middle of this passage of steel in single column. Between both Fleets there were a combined 90,000 men afloat on 370 warships. No such massive sea force had ever been assembled before – or since.

Once safely anchored in the Firth of Forth, the German ships were systematically searched for the next two days to make sure they were properly disarmed. Beatty then ordered that at sunset on 21 November the Imperial German ensign should be lowered on all the ships – and not raised again. Once satisfied, the British confirmed Scapa Flow as the final destination and gave passage plan details for the voyage north to internment there. The torpedo boats would begin to depart the Forth on 22 November; the large cruisers would follow on the 24th, the battleships on the 25th and the last vessels on the 26th. As the German ships subsequently began to arrive at Scapa Flow, they were moored up in neat rows. The bulk of the crews who had sailed the fleet over – some 20,000 sailors – were soon repatriated to

Germany, leaving only skeleton caretaking crews. The ships were prohibited from flying the Imperial German Navy ensign – with its black cross and eagle – and all wireless receivers had been taken away. The ships were cut off and isolated from Germany. The First Battle Squadron of the British Grand Fleet – commanded by Sir Sydney Fremantle and consisting of five battleships, two light cruisers and nine destroyers – was stationed at Scapa Flow and would keep a watchful eye on the 74 interned German warships.

Deadline dilemmas The British only gave the German internees four-day-old newspapers – in the belief that nothing sensitive could be gleaned from them. These old papers were avidly read by the German sailors, as with all wireless receivers taken away they were one of the few means they had of keeping up with what was going on in the outside world. The German sailors were not allowed ashore and so could not obtain any information from local sources.

Left: The German convoy heads up the North Sea to its internment Below: German destroyers sinking in Scapa Flow Bottom: The battle cruiser Hindenberg, after the scuttling


SCAPA 100 Then after seven months, the Allies gave the Germans five days – ending on 21 June – to accept the Allied peace terms, failing which the Allies had declared that a state of war would exist again. When von Reuter read, on 20 June, the latest four-day-old newspaper, The Times of 16 June, of the German counterproposals to those Allied peace terms, he had a wireless message prepared for sending to the German government requesting that naval officers be relieved of their duty before the surrender. With no wireless transmitters, this message had to be passed at the first available opportunity to the British for onward transmission – it was eventually passed to the British on 21 June and had not been sent by the time of the scuttle. After preparing the message for sending, The Times newspaper of 17 June was delivered – and this carried the official response of the Allies to the German counter proposals. The Allies had refused to accept any of them – and from the brusque tone of the British speeches reported in The Times, it seemed to von Reuter that there was little chance of a peace deal being agreed – and that it was indeed likely that the Armistice would end on 21 June and that a state of war be resumed.

If that happened, von Reuter suspected that the British would immediately seize the precious but powerless vessels of his Fleet. With only skeleton crews aboard and all guns disarmed, he would be incapable of stopping his ships from being seized. The Armistice had, however, been extended by two days, to 7pm on Monday 23 June – but after the scuttling, von Reuter claimed he had not been advised of this; the British counterclaimed that he had been told. The jury is still out on that one.

Paragraph 11 is confirmed With von Reuter apparently now believing

that war would restart and allegedly unaware of the extension of the Armistice, the die was cast for 21 June 1919. It would be an historic day – one that still affects the daily lives of Orcadian folk. At 9am on the morning of 21 June 1919, seemingly safe in the knowledge that the Armistice had been extended for two days, the British First Battle Squadron left Scapa Flow for the first time in the seven long months of internment, to carry out a long-range torpedo-firing exercise at sea. They were under orders to be back in Scapa Flow by the extended deadline of 23 June to deal with any trouble that might arise

Right: A German postcard showing the position of the fleet in 1919 Below: The top-heavy battleships turned turtle when they sank – this one was re-floated for salvage Right: Salvage operations on the German cruiser, Bremse


SCAPA 100 should the Armistice not be further extended. A small guard-force of three British destroyers – Vegar, Vesper and an unserviceable destroyer, Victorious, was left behind. At 10am, von Reuter appeared in full dress-uniform on the quarterdeck of his flagship, the light cruiser Emden. One of his staff approached and advised him that the British warships on guard-duty had left the Flow on an exercise earlier that morning along with their supporting cruisers and destroyers – von Reuter

could hardly believe his luck. He ordered the international code flag ‘DG’ to be raised on his flagship. This signal alerted the officers of the other ships in his Fleet to man their bridges and keep a special lookout for further signals. At 10.30am, a string of command flags appeared over Emden, even though this was well outside the set times permitted by the British for issuing signals. The order read: ‘PARAGRAPH 11. BESTÄTIGEN’ – which translates as ‘Paragraph 11. Confirm.’

This simple, cryptic command was a pre-arranged coded order to the commanders of the other ships in the Fleet, instructing them to initiate the scuttling procedure for their vessels. Unbeknown to the British, for the last four days, von Reuter’s trusted officers and sailors on each of the ships had been taking steps to ensure a speedy and unstoppable scuttle if this order was given. Doors and hatches had been secured in the open position – some being welded open – so that the ships would flood

Below: A British boarding party approaches a sinking German destroyer Right: The upturned hull of a battle cruiser on her way to the breaking yard


SCAPA 100 more easily. Seacocks had been set on a hair turning – and lubricated thoroughly. Large hammers had been placed beside any valves that would allow water to flood in if knocked off and bulkhead rivets had been prised out. Now that the order to scuttle had been given, seacocks were opened and disconnected from the upper deck – to prevent any British boarding parties closing them if they boarded before the ship went under. Seawater pipes were smashed and condensers opened. As valves and seacocks were opened, their keys and handles were thrown overboard – so that they could never be closed again. Once the vessels started to scuttle, there was no way to stop the ships sinking – other than by taking them in tow and beaching. The signal to scuttle was repeated from ship to ship by semaphore and by Morse code on signal lamps – and travelled slowly around the German Fleet. The southernmost ships of the long lines of torpedo boats were not visible from the Emden and it took a full hour before the order reached them. The pre-arranged formal responses started to come back, slowly to begin with. The first reached Emden at about 11.3am, just as the original signal to scuttle reached the last of the destroyers: ‘PARAGRAPH ELEVEN IS CONFIRMED.’ Some of the great warships settled into the water on an even keel, while others rolled slowly onto their sides. Some went down by the bow or stern, forcing the other end of the ship to lift high out of the water. The top-heavy battleships moored in deeper water listed – and then turned turtle as they sank. Those ships moored in shallower water settled onto the seabed, leaving their masts, top hamper and smokestacks standing proud of the water. Blasts of steam, oil and air roared out of vents and white clouds of vapour billowed up from the sides of the ships

as they went under. Great anchor chains were stretched taut and then snapped with the strain – crashing into the sea or whiplashing against the decks and sides of the ships.

Power and aggression When it was realised that the entire German High Seas Fleet had started to scuttle, Sir Sydney Fremantle, now far out to sea with the First Battle Squadron, was advised and he immediately ordered his squadron to return to Scapa Flow at full speed. But it was too late – the first of his ships would only be able to get back at around 2pm, almost two hours after the Friedrich der Grosse had gone to the bottom. As the scuttle had begun, the two serviceable British guard destroyers Vegar and Vesper steamed into the channel between the islands of Hoy and Fara towards the tail end of the moored ranks of smaller 900-ton torpedo boats. The British destroyers fired warning shots with their main guns and fired with machine guns and small arms as they closed. Three German sailors in a lifeboat containing 13 men were killed and four were wounded. The others were ordered back aboard their ships – and forced by threats of further shooting to turn off the flood valves. British destroyers and drifters attempted to take German ships in tow for beaching. A destroyer took the minelayer cruiser Bremse in tow, however she capsized and sank at 2.30pm – so fast that the British destroyer had to cut its towing cable to avoid being endangered herself. Scapa Flow resounded and echoed with the sound of gunfire from British vessels. The crack of rifle shots also came from the land, as British troops and locals alike, repelled lifeboats filled with German sailors seeking to land on the shore.

On the island of Cava, a group of women wielding pitchforks and other farm tools managed to scare off a lifeboat with a party of German sailors who were trying to land on the beach. At 2pm the vanguard vessels of the British First Battle Squadron, returning at full speed from their aborted exercise entered Hoxa Sound, the main entrance to Scapa Flow from the south. Many of the German capital ships were already by this time at the bottom of Scapa Flow – while those remaining afloat were in the advanced stages of sinking. The massive British warships surged through the water at 20 knots, smashing through the short seas of the Flow in a spectacle of power and aggression. One Royal Navy destroyer immediately broke off from the Squadron and using explosives cut the anchor cable of Reuter’s flagship, Emden – and successfully towed her to the shore where she was beached. Other British destroyers fired warning salvoes of shells from their main guns. Armed boarding-parties went aboard the battleship Baden, where they managed to restart the diesel generation units, restoring power and lighting and enabling systematic pumping to start. She was driven ashore and beached in Swanbister Bay in sinking condition. The commander of the British destroyer group threatened any German commander whose ship sank with summary execution – and a number of German officers were lined up on the torpedo boat S132. A Royal Marine firing squad was drawn up – but no executions took place. A man described in contemporary accounts as ‘an English sailor’, but probably an off-duty officer who had hastily returned to his ship from ashore, boarded another German destroyer and put a pistol to the head of a German officer. He pulled the trigger – but missed. In the heat of the moment, the

Below: A watercolour of the German fleet in Scapa, by the artist Frank Watson Wood


SCAPA 100 barrel had slipped, and the officer survived with a bad cut, muzzle-blast burns and a loud ringing in his ears.

Aftermath With the scuttle a clear success and with few ships left for him to board, Reuter and his personal staff went aboard the British battleship HMS Revenge at about 4pm, where a short and bitter exchange took place between him and Sir Sydney Fremantle. Von Reuter tried to explain that he had given the order to scuttle as he genuinely believed from the newspapers provided that the Armistice was to have ended that day and that hostilities were about to recommence. With all their wireless

receivers taken away and not being allowed ashore, the only other real source of information was from conversations with the crews of the regular supply vessels that came from Germany. Von Reuter professed to be amazed when Sir Sydney Fremantle advised him that the Armistice had in fact been extended by two days. Fremantle maintained in the years to come that he had informed Reuter ‘unofficially’ of the extension before the scuttling, but Reuter continually denied having any knowledge of it prior to the evening of 21 June 1919. The argument between the two commanders got nowhere and broke up. That evening, the homeless German sailors were split up among the five British

battleships. Sir Sydney Fremantle issued an order that the Germans should be treated with ‘minimum courtesy’. German kitbags were allegedly searched and pillaged, with watches and knives being stolen and some German sailors were allegedly beaten up. In total, nine German sailors died as a result of the scuttle – with the ninth being shot later on the British battleship Resolution. Another 16 were wounded. The majority of the scuttled German warships were raised intact in the coming decades – in a monumental feat of original ground-breaking salvage that would be hard to replicate today. Those ships left, that we dive today, were considered to be in water too deep – or to be sitting at difficult angles that made sealing all their openings for lifting by compressed air impractical. Today, the historical importance of the High Seas Fleet ships that were left, coupled with the many other shipwrecks in the area, make for one of the world’s most prolific wreck sites. Scapa Flow is a world-renowned centre of diving – and a must do for serious divers from across the world. After all, where else can you dive three German WWI dreadnought battleships?

Left: The once mighty 12-inch guns of a battleship awaiting salvage Below: Salvaging operations underway on a battleship

Abridged from Dive Scapa Flow by Rod Macdonald (Whittles Publishing Ltd 2017)



Fast and Light

Demystifying Scapa’s smaller scuttled ships Emily Turton, skipper of MV Huskyan, considers the importance of Scapa’s light cruiser and mine-layer wrecks, which often provide some of the Flow’s most satisfying dives


capa Flow is famous for her First World War dreadnought battleship wrecks – both German and British – but this article will focus on four of the smaller German ships, the three remaining Light Cruisers: SMS Cöln, SMS Dresden and SMS Karlsruhe and one Fast Minelayer SMS Brummer and explain why they encompass everything that is great about wreck diving in Scapa Flow. First, a bit of background…

Why Scapa Flow? Germany asked for the Armistice on 11th November 1918 but this was just a ceasefire – it was not the end of the war. While the peace negotiations took place in Paris, 74 German warships, including all their operational dreadnoughts and battlecruisers, were demanded to be placed in British custody.

On 21 November, 71 of these ships manned by 17,000 men set sail across the North Sea, headed for Rosyth in the Firth of Forth. Met by the full strength of the allied forces, 370 ships and over 90,000 men, this was the single biggest meeting of warships in naval history. Following inspection, the German ships made the trip north in small groups. The cruisers and battleships sailed to Orkney in two flotillas on 24th and 25th November 1918. The only ships missing at this point were the König, Dresden and Baden which arrived to Scapa over the next few weeks. The German ships were required to disarm before setting sail but this did not, to the benefit of today’s diving community, mean that the guns were removed. They were merely rendered unfireable and all munitions disposed of.

Below: SMS Karlsruhe’s stern anchor capstan

Scapa’s Interned & Salvaged Fleet By January 1919, Scapa’s interned German fleet consisted of 11 battleships, five battlecruisers, six light cruisers, 50 Torpedo Boat Destroyers and two fast mine layers. Fifty of these ships were successfully sunk on 21 June 1919 in the largest scuttling of all time. The greatest feat of marine salvage ensued; today eight ships remain (including the Destroyer V83), offering some of the best First World War wreck diving in the world. The salvage of the German Fleet began with the removal of whole ships and developed into blast salvage, where specific material and metal were recovered, and then to piecemeal removal of artefacts by divers which was legal prior to the ships’ protection in 2000. The bulk of the commercial salvage work was carried out by four companies. Cox and Danks (1924-1931) and Metal Industries Ltd (1931-1947) were mostly responsible for the removal of whole ships although they did remove most of the propellers. The blast salvage of Scapa’s remaining German ships, where non-ferrous metal and thick armour plate were the main prizes, was carried out by two men: Arthur Nundy of Nundy Marine Metals (1956-1971) and Dougall Campbell of the Scapa Flow Salvage Company Ltd (1972-1977.) It’s Dougall, however, who salvaged our four smaller ships and his legacy that contributes to the different diving experience to be had on each ship. Understanding what was salvaged and why and how the work was done helps us understand the wrecks that little bit more.

Diving Scapa’s smaller ships



A diving week in Scapa often begins with a dive on one of our four smaller ships. That said they range in length from 113


Above: SMS Karlsruhe – divers illuminate the engine room salvage damage showing broken turbine blades Below: SMS Karlsruhe’s forward anchor capstans metres to 140 metres, and despite being dwarfed by the battleships, they still rank as some of the UK’s largest wreck dives. The German light cruisers were built as multi purpose vessels capable of scouting missions, convoy protection and fleet support. Weighing in at approximately 5,500 tons they were capable of speeds of 28 knots. The Brummer was a fast minelayer, designed to lay minefields in the heart of enemy territory as quickly as possible. At 25 metres longer than her cruiser sisters and only five metres shorter than the battleships, it might surprise you to know that she is more than 1,000 tons lighter than the Cöln, Dresden and Karlsruhe. Part of what is genius about a week in Scapa is that every dive helps inform the next. No two ships are the same, but precisely because they are all warships of the same era and from the same navy they all have similar features. Find a 55

SCAPA 100 capstan on the Cöln and more easily recognise one on the Brummer. There are fourteen 15cm guns left across our four ships – have you seen them all?

SMS Karlsruhe Konigsberg Class Light Cruiser Underwater the Karlsruhe is the most broken of the three light cruisers, making her harder to understand. To the untrained eye she can give a bad first impression, but don’t be fooled. She is, in my opinion, fantastic and at just 26 metres to the seabed allows the diver real time to explore. To understand the ship, we need to delve a little deeper into why she looks the way she does. There are four distinct reasons for the damage to the ship, and this multibeam image of the Karlsruhe help us see the bigger picture. Reason 1: She sank upright, leaving her masts sticking up out of the water. Over time she has rolled onto her starboard, the stress of which has caused her decks to slump. Reason 2: Powered by steam, her engine rooms contain turbines and condensers – a valuable salvage prize due to the high concentration of non ferrous metal. The turbine rooms have been reduced almost to seabed level, exposing turbine blades and gearboxes which are only present on the cruisers.


Reason 3: The bridge is missing. Instead we can see the lower part of the mast with a 15cm gun tucked underneath. Karlsruhe had a substantial bridge structure and, as she was built early enough in the war (1916) before materials were scarce, the majority of


2 stern


bow 1



Above: The stern of SMS Karlsruhe Below: Emily illuminates the stern anchor of SMS Karlsruhe



SCAPA 100 structure, much to the delight of Dougall Campbell, was made of brass. Four and a half tons of brass was recovered from the bridge area, effectively removing the entire structure. Reason 4: There is an extra area of blast salvage damage on the Karlsruhe which does not exist on the other two cruisers (Cöln & Dresden). The Karlsruhe had two submerged torpedo tubes, one to port and one to starboard forward of the bridge. Made entirely of cast bronze, these were removed in 1975. Each of the Scapa wrecks has a series of defining images, those features that encapsulate everything that is great about the site. At the bow, Karlsruhe’s two forward anchor capstans have slipped


down on top of each other, revealing the capstan machinery in the lower decks. Her four remaining 15cm guns (the ship was originally fitted with eight) provide architectural markers as you swim from bow to stern. Her stern, however, while both delicate and fragile, is beautiful. Teak decking is laid over her steel deck plating, her huge stern anchor capstan has now slipped to the seabed, but remains a rather impressive artefact to visit, while partially buried right at the back is her stern anchor.

SMS Cöln & SMS Dresden Cöln Class Light Cruisers The Cöln and Dresden were two of the last ships to be built for the First World

War German Navy. Not commissioned until early 1918, and in Scapa by that December, they did not see much war action. By the time they were built, Germany was struggling for raw materials and this showed in the build quality of the ships. Luckily for us it made them less of a salvage prize, and explains why they are more intact today. The two ships were nearly identical while afloat, but underwater offer two very different experiences. The Dresden is the only ship to have sunk on her port side and on a slope, her stern 10 metres deeper than her bow. With just two areas of damage she is a great ship to explore the difference between salvage and decay. While the Cöln’s engine room damage



blast salvage



Left: The bow anchor of the Dresden Below right: The bow of the Dresden with the ship’s crest illuminated in the foreground


resembles that of the Karlsruhe, the Dresden’s turbines were of such poor quality and essentially worthless that Dougall Campbell only took the starboard one, leaving the port side of the ship intact. Over the years the deck at the bow has peeled away from the hull pulled down by the weight of her armoured conning tower. Three of her eight 15cm guns remain, both stern guns – one superimposing the other – and her starboard bridge gun. The crest of the city of Dresden is in place on the starboard bow and under the bow the anchor chain drapes to the seabed from the hawse and disappears to the

north – follow it to the end to discover her anchor dug into the ground. The Cöln is everything a shipwreck should be and is the most intact of our smaller ships. Fully on her starboard side and lying in 36 metres, her vertical deck provides a great multilevel dive. Swimming aft from her bow her forward capstans, draped in chain, draw your attention away from two large triangles flat on the deck and inlaid with teak. These are tripod mounts for machine guns and once you’ve seen one you will see more. Further aft, her conning tower remains the most intact and now has the only remaining visible rangefinder. Made of



SCAPA 100 thick armour plate with thin letterboxsized slits for windows and descending three decks the structure contains two steering positions. Her bridge structure was an open design that wrapped around the conning tower. Consisting of two main platforms, the only protection from the elements were railings wrapped in canvas. On the seabed just in front of the foremast is the frame for a searchlight iris with some glass still in place and hiding in the lower level is a 15cm gun rammed up inside the bridge when she sank.

Each of the Cöln-class cruisers were equipped with four bronze deck-mounted torpedo tubes. At eight metres long, 60cm in diameter and weighing-in at approximately 2,000kg with a warhead of 210kg, they were some of the biggest torpedoes in the fleet and a whole metre longer than those installed on the König class battleships. Torpedo tubes were sought-after salvage, so to find one still in place is rare. The Cöln has the only remaining tube sitting rammed into the silt, nose

Above: In the foreground: Scapa’s only remaining German Fleet Torpedo Tube rammed into the silt nose first with an 88mm gun in the background


first just forward of the engine room break. The steering across the entire fleet is shaft-driven, with every steering position connected to the other via a series of solid drive shafts and gearing. Right at the stern is the final steering position and the last way of controlling the ship should the system forwards be damaged. Salvage of the propellers and bearings has opened up the hull forwards of the rudder, allowing us to see the twin steering wheels of the auxiliary steering rooms; a must see for for any diver.

Above: A tripod mount for a machine gun on SMS Cöln Below: Search Light Iris Frame – SMS Cöln


SMS Brummer Brummer Class Light Cruiser The Brummer was a beautiful ship with sleek and slender lines and the most incredible razor sharp, concaved bow. She could carry over 400 contact mines all transported to the stern for deployment on tracks similar to railway tracks. Her lighter build however, has

meant she has suffered the most for being underwater for a century, but don’t let that fool you. The top section of her bridge is made of brass, while nestled on the seabed are the remains of two searchlights with intact iris. She had half the number of

Above: SMS Brummer – Bridge showing brass railing and compass platform Below: SMS Brummer – Search Light Iris. This iris would be housed in a frame similar to the one at the bridge on the Cöln



SCAPA 100 15cm guns compared with her cruiser sisters, all four of which are still in place. Hiding inside the Brummer is a wicker basket – one of the most fragile of her secrets. Warships of the early 20th Century began by burning coal to make steam and then transitioned to oil. The Brummer’s boilers were fired by both coal and oil. Re-coaling the ships was a huge

and labour intensive task moved by hand using wicker baskets. Our four ships bear the scars of both salvage and, as is the natural evolution of every shipwreck, the signs of 100 years of decay. They are changing more quickly than the battleships, but as artefacts change and fall away more items are uncovered, meaning there

Right: SMS Brummer – stern anchor Below: SMS Brummer – mine laying tracks



is always something new to discover. They are a window to a lost era of ship building and if you’re new to Scapa, her smaller ships are a great place to start but for those that have dived them many times I invite you to slow down a little, explore, question why and discover each new layer of detail they have to offer.




One awesome office Helen Hadley is skipper and co-owner of the Scapa liveaboard MV Valkyrie. Here, she describes the experience of running a dive boat out of Stromness



liding between the buoys which silently mark the entrance of the harbour, I point the boat towards the main body of Scapa itself. To my right the Hoy hills rise like the backs of great stone whales taking a breath before a dive, soaring to the cloud flecked sky. To my left the green patchwork of fields, a scattering of cows rejoicing in the lush grass growing like wildfire in these long days of summer. As offices go, there are few better than this. Even on the poorest day, when the waves are whipped by furious winds, cat’s paws batting at our masts and causing your hair to lash into your eyes and mouth, it still has a raw exhilaration seldom found in bricks and mortar.

After briefing the assembled divers, I see the light in their eyes ignite and plans scribbled on wet notes to be shoved into pockets. The familiar chorus of cylinders being tested for their mix, the rush of gas before the analyser is pressed home. Soon the chaos has become order, and it is up to me to guide the 170 tonnes of boat around a target with changing variables. Wind, tide and even the divers’ equipment all come into play when lining up a drop. With my words, “ready, ready drop drop drop” the divers step into thin air and plunge into the clear water, swim to the shot and disappear, their legacy being patches of bubbles breaking at the surface. On a good day I can track where you go and even what you are

doing; getting ready to launch a dSMB is very distinctive, as is a stressed diver. The boat becomes quiet, only three of us left aboard to tend her needs.

Liveaboard life Of course the boat isn’t just a bus to take you to the dive site, and the smell of food wafts up from the galley into the wheelhouse. Saturday mornings are spent cleaning every surface, hoovering floors and dusting light fittings. Two supermarkets and four trolleys are filled to the brim with food, which is then loaded into large repurposed tubs and craned onto the deck. Next comes the restock of the cupboards, which resembles some sort of edible Tetris.

Above: The Valkyrie picks up members of Kingston & Elmbridge BSAC after a dive



As with all boats, space is at a premium and we tend to carry only what we regularly use, meaning we can buy in bulk. The galley is sprayed down, cooker cleaned; fridges are washed out and stock taken. Cooking on board is a strange conglomeration of restaurant quantities coupled to domestic methods. We simply cannot store large amounts of preprepared ingredients as we only have two normal size domestic refrigerators. Water tanks are always emptying and filling, and after all these years I can tell how much water we have left by the way the boat handles, the extra weight of the water affecting her roll in a subtle way. A large bore hose is used to fill, taking around 20 minutes and then a

wash down of the decks, windows and walls takes another 30 minutes out of our Saturday off. Soap suds move across the harbour like tiny icebergs as they course off the deck and down to the sea. An incoming group will normally email ahead, arranging any equipment needed, and this is set out on the deck for people to take. Cylinders are tied using short lengths of rope to the rails, boxes of white soda lime are piled with a guest names added in black pen to avoid confusion. Just like the shopping, things are done on a different scale for the boat. Looking after 12 guests means a lot of laundry, changing beds, scrubbing sinks and showers. Our cleaning crew join us bright eyed and highly caffeinated early on the

Saturday morning and soon the boat smells of polish and bleach. We heave sagging bags of dirty laundry to the pier, followed by bulging bags of rubbish to the bins. Engines need to be fed and watered, their fluid levels checked, searched for oily drips, filters unscrewed and replaced with fresh ones. Oxygen J cylinders, six feet tall and 70kg are loaded and strapped into place with the sound of some strange wind chimes as they collide with each other in the rack, paperwork completed and whip lines screwed in until tight. Each day, cylinders must be filled, ropes thrown, rubbish taken to the skip, tanks filled with water and the boat always seems to sleep with one eye open.

Below: A six-photo panorama of the view across Scapa Flow towards Hoy


FEEL THE FLOW WORKING THE FLOW Follow the flow Scapa is one of the best destinations in the world for diving, with seven huge First World War warships in recreational depth. These behemoths are silent testament to times past, of war and distrust for entire nations and are tombstones to the men who died during their sinking. Huge artificial reefs, they come alive as the water temperature rises and by September they are bristling with life. The wrecks have started to change, some rapidly, some slowly over the last 10 years. My analogy is that of a flower coming into bloom. When they were first sunk they were a closed rose, petals furled but still incredible to behold. As they

slowly change, immense forces at work on old steel, petals open to allow us to see inside areas that a year ago were veiled and inaccessible. Every visit is a chance to discover something new, something that wasn’t visible a year ago.

A view from the helm Divers return, having hung under the bright dSMBs doing their penance for their bottom time; snatches of their conversation drift to my ears. The sheer enjoyment, the antics, the laughing allow me to relive my dives of the past. Listening to people recounting swim-throughs familiar to my mind, a smile worms its way onto my face as I remember my first encounter of the

Below: A ferry makes its way between Hoy and the island of Fara

Below: An aerial view over Stromness


same steel passage and having the same reaction of elation at our antics. Between dives there is a respite from the flood of information from radar, radio, CCTV and crew, but you have to always be aware to keep your boat and your guests safe. The red shadows on the radar give me eyes where I would normally have none. I listen to the chatter on board with one ear, while the other eavesdrops on the engines, listening for changes in the chatter tone can be the first signal that something is amiss. A good drift spot is paramount, allowing the vessel to slowly make her way sideways across the Flow avoiding shotlines, ferries and other boats. Sitting in the helm chair, you can never truly relax on board, having got to the top of the food chain there are perks and there are penalties. Heading home, we cut through the tide towards Stromness where stout ropes will hold us firm overnight. Tomorrow we will do it all again, and I can’t wait.

Above: A 150mm deck gun from SMS Bremse on display at Lyness



War machines

The Kรถnig-class battleships of Scapa Flow

The battleships are what makes Scapa Flow special in the world of diving, with unique sights for those qualified to visit their hidden features. Story and photographs by Bob Anderson of MV Halton


ust off the top of Scotland lies a windswept archipelago with a diving jewel at its heart. Under the waters of Scapa Flow lie the last remains of the German High Seas Fleet. Of these, the three most significant wrecks are the remaining Kรถnig class battleships. 68

The turbulent times that created these bellicose behemoths saw the first Great War rage across Europe and shape modern history. These machines were the pinnacle of engineering technology of their day, expensive enough to bankrupt nations but, ironically, obsolete almost

before their conception. There are very few places in the world where you can visit the guns that fired in anger at the Battle of Jutland at sports diving depths.

The Scapa obsession People come to Scapa Flow to go diving


Above: The mighty bow of the Markgraf rises from the seabed but leave knowing they have touched history. Although they are wrecks like all the others in the sea, these battleships have sat at the top table of modern world events and played a part in shaping modern Europe. The three KĂśnig class battleships have earned a pride of place

in modern naval warfare and are a prompt to explore the history books to understand better the follies of men that led to their final scuttling. Most wrecks are pretty straightforward to explore and give up their secrets with a little investigation. These battleships, by

contrast, can be the first step to a lifetime’s reading and occupy many a long night on the internet. Their importance rewards the long hours of investigation and gives rich returns to underwater explanation. To start at the beginning requires a gentle introduction to the technical battleship. 69


How to build a battleship Sometimes you have to tell a lie to tell a truth. In the same way, this description is not strictly accurate, so the puritans among you may sniff. However, the uninitiated I hope will benefit from an explanation that illustrates the principles and mechanisms of the topic rather than being bogged down in esoteric technical jargon and detail. There are three main controlling forces that govern the design of a battleship – defence, offence and machinery. The skill of the designer is to navigate through the compromises thrown up by each of these

facets. HMS Dreadnought swept aside all the previous rule books when she hit the drawing board in 1905 and formed the point of reference from which all subsequent battleships have evolved (of whatever nation). OFFENCE A battleship’s prime role is offence. They are designed to pack a punch and give the enemy a bloody nose. The rules that HMS Dreadnought defined are the need for multiple, large guns of uniform calibre, all controlled from a central fire control point. This allows

Left: A diver explores the hawse pipe on the Kronprinz – the anchor chain ran out the side of the ship through this pipe Below left A battleship’s superfiring turret Below: The sharp end of a 12-inch gun from the penultimate turret of the Kronprinz



Above: Battleship hulls were covered in thick sheets of armoured steel. Here a sheet has slid down the side of the Markgraf Right: The armour on the side of the Kronprinz hull has been blasted away, revealing the casemate gun Below: The last casemate gun on the Kronprinz lies over the 12-inch guns

a concentrated salvo to be coordinated against a clearly defined target and then adjustments in range or bearing to be fed back into the fire control mechanism to make corrections. The three battleships remaining in Scapa Flow are all König-class (essentially triplets, children of a common design) and an armament arranged in a distinctive pattern for good reason. All the guns

were set on the midline of the ship, allowing the turrets to traverse to either side and deliver a broadside to both port and starboard beams. In addition, the König-class mounted the forward and rear pairs of turrets in a ‘super firing’ configuration. The higher turret could fire overhead from the front, allowing a full arc of fire for all guns, even when firing dead ahead or dead astern.

Each turret had two 30.5cm (12.0in) SK L/50 guns (the numbers are only there for the interested to feed in to Wikipedia on a voyage of discovery through the details). Each gun had 90 shells with rate of fire of between two to three 400kg shells, though surprisingly each barrel had only a shelf life of 200 or so shots. The maximum range was in the region of 20,400m. In crude terms, this is like firing a Classic 71

SCAPA 100 Mini to Kirkwall from Stromness and trying to get it into a specific parking spot: no mean feat (my daughter struggles most days). In short, the designers maximised the amount of ordinance that could be rained down on the enemy through maximising the number of guns that could be brought to bear, their rate and arcs of control, and the shells fired. Guns fired in anger at the Battle of Jutland are within reach for most experienced UK divers. Most of their adversaries are 80miles west of Denmark in technical depths and blown to smithereens. A dive to the stern of the Kronprinz Wilhelm allows you to see both the breach and the muzzle of several guns. As the battleship turned turtle as it sank, the anchor chain wrapped over the forward gun barrels and the force ripped the roof off the turret, exposing the innards. Much of the shell handing mechanism is in plain view, and the distinctive breach open to the sea. This is a view that few people ever see, a seat at the sharp end of the First World War. In the calm depths of Scapa, it is easy to imagine the chaos and noise that a salvo would have generated. DEFENCE The second design criterion was defence. Those mighty 12inch guns fired from behind a thick steel protective shield in anticipation of receiving a fury equal to the one being unleashed. Imagine a medieval fort with guns in the ramparts and the explanation somehow continues to work. However, the battlement is now 12inches thick hardened steel (in places) and forms a box (or more precisely, an ‘armoured citadel’)

around the soft belly of the ship. Within this defended torso was the machinery, shells, cordite and other vulnerable components of a fighting ship. Set in the armour were seven 15cm (5.9 in) SK L/45 quick-firing guns on each side, a secondary armament designed to combat smaller ships attacking at closer range. These guns could fire a smaller 45kg shell at up to seven rounds per minute over a range of 14,000m. They were mounted in an armoured casemate, like a curved shield, so the protection moved in accord with the aiming of the gun, thus presenting an uninterrupted wall of steel to attackers. When seen today, these guns provide important signposts helping us to navigate the length of the wrecks underwater. The guns themselves are essentially the same as the main armament on the smaller cruisers. After a week of diving in the Flow, their shapes become both distinctive and easily recognisable underwater. Swimming the ‘gun run’ is a well-worn refrain in Scapa and part of every pilgrim’s route, a journey that leapfrogs the seven casemates on each open side of the battleships.

The machinery formed an integral part of the ships’ design consideration. Speed was an important component of attack. In contrast, more armour added weight and slowed the ship down, despite giving greater protection. As each component was added, so it influenced the fighting capacity of the ship. Such compromises shaped the ships that we explore in the water today, and some knowledge of the rationale behind the design choices forms the foundation for understanding these wrecks. As divers, we see turbines rather than reciprocating engines, we see guns behind walls of steel. The more we understand before entering the water, so the more we see when we unravel the puzzling wreckage in our mind’s eye.

The passage of time Once the battleship as a machine is understood, the journey can then switch focus to tell the story of their brief lives.

MACHINERY To complete the description, we need to consider that everything mentioned up to this point now has to go to sea, so was set inside the body of a ship. The armoured citadel was rounded off to form a bow and stern. Two rudders directed the water from three propellers capable of moving the ship at a top speed of 21 knots. The main propulsion plant was the technologically advanced and (then) recent innovation of turbines powered by steam from 15 boilers.

Left: The massive propeller shafts on the Markgraf span the blast hole around the engine room Right: A diver peers into a large turbine from the Konig Top right: The machinery on the ships was advanced for its day, as illustrated by this exposed turbine on the Karlsruhe 72

SCAPA 100 Built in 1914, by 1919 they were at the bottom of the sea. This is a short lifespan for ships that required significant government expenditure to conceive and build. Each twist of their brief lives left a mark that can be seen on the seabed today. To further understand the wreckage, we need to understand the events of time. This chronology is a story of three chapters, which all shape the wrecks in different ways. INTERNMENT Bear in mind that the ships were initially interred in Scapa Flow and swung round an anchor, waiting for news of the armistice negotiation. The breach blocks and shells were left in Germany so that the guns could not be fired: there is no live ammunition on the seabed around these wrecks. They were sunk, scuttled by the crews themselves and therefore are undamaged by battle. Contrast this


SCAPA 100 with other war wrecks, which are often mangled beyond recognition as they meet their end. Their sinking left a mark too. The anchor chain from the Markgraf runs from the hawse pipes, across a short section of seabed alongside the bow before traversing up the side and across the hull. The forward shot usually gets tied into this easily recognisable navigation feature, often a welcome sign pointing home. SALVAGE Secondly, having sunk, the ships were then heavily targeted by a significant salvage effort. Most of the damage results from this operation. In fact, most of the scuttled ships were removed completely and broken for scrap in Rosyth, leaving only scars on the seabed. We are lucky today to still have the three Königs: the Grosser Kurfürst escaped us. The salvage effort targeted specific areas on the wrecks such as the torpedo rooms, rich in non-ferrous metal, and the thick steel of the armour belt. Explosives were used to open the ships and remove the metal. TIME Finally, there is the passage of time: the wrecks will have been immersed for a century from this June, and been the subject of significant recreational diving effort for several decades now. The

battleships all came to rest upside down, so the forces acting on the hull are almost the opposite to how they were designed to act. The early diving years saw some artefact removal, so there are now a few items on display in museums (and garages!) around the country. However, the wrecks are now valued for their historic importance and protected by legislation, so that any artefact removal is strictly prohibited. That said, there are many significant artefacts left on the wrecks for the keen of eye. Although damaged, the wrecks are not as broken as you would imagine and certainly in better condition than other ships that have been a century underwater, by virtue of their solid construction.

Diving The three battleships now lie in a close cluster just to the east of Cava. They range in depth from the Kronprinz at 38m, the König in 43m and the Markgraf in 45m. Although the tops of the wrecks are in the teens of metres, these are deep dives. A visit to the seabed is required if the most significant parts of the wrecks are to be visited. When they sank, the heavy weight of the armour and guns topside resulted in the ships turning turtle and coming to rest on the

Below: The aft turret and the two 12-inch gun barrels on the Kronprinz


top superstructure. Although essentially upside down, there is still enough gap on the one side between the deck and the seabed to explore the ships and discover their significant features. THE WRECKS TODAY Each of the battleships has a theme. With a diving week often only long enough for a single dive on each of these giants, specific routes that visit the best areas are often promoted, with the shot lines tied in accordingly. A dive on the Kronprinz is a trip to the two turrets at the stern. Three 12-inch gun barrels are easily found and the breaches just about visible at the end of a torch beam through a hatch. The König has an exposed belly with turbines, boilers and inner workings of a turret on show. This is the most damaged of the three battleships, but also the most interesting if you can assemble the component parts in your head. However, it is the Markgraf that is the grand old Dame of the show. It is this one wreck more than any other that brings divers back to the Flow year after year. Least damaged of the three, a swim round the bow or between the two rudders gives a very real sense of the scale of these ships when they imposed their might onto the world stage.

SCAPA 100 Ultimately the guns are the main act. The gun run on the Markgraf or the 12-inch guns of the Kronprinz wash away the trials of the long drive north, the cold, the dark and the inhospitable sea to somehow make all the work worthwhile. Like the queen on the chessboard, it was the presence of these ships that ruled

the waves when they were built. They exerted a threat from afar and required a constant response – even if that was a distant blockade. Too valuable to be lost, they were always waiting for the day: “der tag”. That presence is still keenly felt, even after a century in the cold dark waters of Scapa Flow.

We have all seen those fallen heavyweight boxers who have had their glory days behind them; yet even in their autumn, there is still fight and power woven into their bodies. The wrecks of Scapa still cast the shadow of yesterday, so a swim on these wrecks is to touch the forces of war.

Above: A swim between the massive rudders on the Markgraf – pure Scapa!

König Class VITAL STATISTICS TYPE: Battleship SHIPS IN CLASS: König, Grosser Kurfürst, Markgraf, and Kronprinz BUILT: 1911-1914 IN COMMISSION: 1914-1919 DISPLACEMENT: 28,600 tonnes fully laden LENGTH: 175m BEAM: 29m DRAFT: 9m PROPULSION: 3 shafts / 3 steam turbines (30,576shp) SPEED: 21 knots RANGE: 8,000nm at 12 knots COMPLEMENT: 1,136 Sailors ARMAMENT: 10 x 12.0in guns; 14 x 5.9in guns; 10 x 8.8cm guns; 5 x 50cm torpedo tubes ARMOUR BELT: 14in turrets and conning tower 12in DECK: 1.2in

Above: A recognition drawing of the German battleship König prepared by the Royal Navy’s Intelligence department that was distributed to the fleet in 1918. Left: Plan and elevation view of a ship of the König class, from Jane’s Fighting Ships 1919



SMS Cรถln LOCATION: Orkney DEPTH: 22-36m VISIBILITY: 5-15m

Draped in plumose anemones, underwater photographer Simon Brown says this is the prettiest wreck of the entire German fleet in Scapa Flow

Officers quarters

Aft anchor capstan

Aft 5.9inch guns Aft mast





he Cöln is the finest and most intact accessible wreck dive in Scapa Flow. Of the 7,700 images I have shot over the years in the waters of the flow, only the Karlsruhe has received more attention and the sole reason for that is depth…you get more bottom time to create on the Karlsruhe. I adore the Cöln. Resting on her starboard side, the wreck lies in 36 metres of water. Her highest point is about 22m and most of the interesting features are below 30m. Despite approaching the hundredth anniversary of her sinking, the Cöln has withstood the ravages of salt-water immersion well and has steadfastly refused to collapse. Preservation of a ship-like form makes navigation a doddle, and for those who like to see things from the inside, and are appropriately qualified, a swim through from the bow before exiting the wreck just aft of the armoured fire control tower is a popular tour. The shot line is normally tied off to a point just aft of the bridge, so keeping the now vertical deck of the wreck on your left shoulder will lead you to the bows.

The sharp lines of the bow still hang above the seabed, with the anchor chains draped from their hawsers. Swim away from the bow, look back and rotate the view 90º in your mind. It is not difficult to imagine the ship moored at anchor when seen from this perspective. When compared to her sister the Dresden, the Cöln really has retained her designer’s intended form. With the deck on your right shoulder, the swim aft takes you to the mounting points of the twin 150-millimetre forward guns. Just behind the guns sits the armoured fire-control tower. With its distinctive viewing slits and thick steel walls it’s a wonder (and a credit to the ship’s builders) how the sheer mass of the control tower hasn’t pulled itself off its mounting. On top of the control tower sits the optical range finder, looking not unlike modern radar. Used to range the main guns, the internal optics was considered top secret at the time, so the glass elements were removed before the Cöln’s final departure from Germany.

Left: Exploring under the bows Right: Anemones on the forward mast

Essentials DEPTH RANGE: 22-36m FINDING THE WRECK: The Cöln lies at 58°53.830N 003°8.450W TIDAL INFORMATION: Dive at any state of the tide. GAS: An ideal nitrox mix would be 30%, with an MOD of 37m at pO2 of 1.4 bar.

Salvage break

High elevation 88mm gun

Pinnace davits

Torpedo tube

Forward mast

Midships port 5.9inch guns

Cloche ventilators

Forward 5.9inch gun mounts

Anchor capstan


WRECKED The Cöln’s bridge was an open affair and the scaffold-like structure remains. This section is by far the most photogenic, with every scrap of space on the framework covered in plumose anemones. While it’s easy to argue that the entire wreck is plastered with life, it’s worth remembering that the bridge structure hangs off the ship, isolating the subjects to photographic perfection. The main mast can be found in this area and still sports the remains of a spotting platform. Such is the beauty of the bridge area I have logged two hours of dive time in this area alone. Photogenic equals to the bridge are the pinnace davits that hang from the port side, at about 25m, and arch out into the depths. These massive arms are draped in both the orange and white variants of plumose and while the pinnacles are long gone the area is littered with winches and derricks that once handled the boats. The three funnels have gone, leaving the armoured vents blocking access to the boilers deeper within the ship. Amidships we come across our first hard evidence of the Cöln’s purpose; a 88mm high-elevation deck gun and one example of the ship’s four torpedo tubes. The 88mm gun is an interesting addition, providing anti-aircraft defence at a time when aviation of any kind – let alone an aircraft intended to damage enemy warships – was very much in its infancy.


Late to the war The light cruiser SMS Cöln was built in Hamburg and launched on 5 October 1916. With the Imperial German Navy concentrating on submarine warfare, the cruiser, designed to carry up to 200 mines, and her sister ship SMS Dresden (another Scapa internee and dive site) were not commissioned until January 1918. Of the ten planned ships only the Cöln and Dresden made it off the slipway and into action, assigned to a scouting group made up of similar craft. Thanks to her relatively late arrival, the Cöln saw little fighting action. On the 28 October she was part of a fleet ordered to attack shipping in the Thames the following day. The sole purpose of the attack was to gain a better bargaining position for Germany as the war ended, whatever the cost to the fleet. Tired of war, other crews mutinied and refused to obey orders and the operation was cancelled. Following Germany’s capitulation, the Cöln sailed to the Firth of Forth before being interred at Scapa Flow while peace treaty negotiations proceeded at Versailles. Unaware of an extended deadline for the armistice, the Cöln was scuttled to prevent the ship falling into allied hands on orders of Admiral Von Reuter, slipping beneath the waves on the afternoon of 21 June 1919. The SMS Cöln has been salvaged for non-ferrous metals, but otherwise remains intact and is now a protected historical monument. The city the wreck is named for has seen a few subtle changes to its name over the years. English speakers will know the city as Cologne, while presentday German speakers will recognise Köln. However, when the ship was named, ‘Cöln’ was the contemporary spelling. This version is cast into the ship’s bell, now hanging in the museum at Lyness. Below left: Plumose anemones on the bridge Below: A ventilator fan inside the wreck


Above: Plumose anemone Metridium senile on the high elevation gun Left: Exploring the remains of the bridge

The second mast slopes gently to the seabed, and close by the sole remaining example of a 60cm torpedo tube now points towards the surface. Made from bronze and highly prized for their scrap value, the torpedo tube has somehow been missed from the recycling efforts of the past. At this point the hull has started to collapse where salvage teams have blasted their way into the engine room in search of non-ferrous metal. The tangled remains of pipes, beams, plating and cables are the legacy of the salvage work and the salvors’ damage has weakened the hull to the point of collapse.

Crossing the break in the hull, normal ship-shape service is resumed and the first of two rear 150mm guns appears, mounted on top of the superstructure. Further aft and at main deck level the second gun is mounted. It’s worth noting that none of the guns were mounted with enclosed turrets, just an armoured shield protected the gunners from incoming fire. With both of the rear guns exposed, one can only imagine what it must have been like to be manning the lower gun when the uppermost gun fired. Finally we reach the stern deck. At around 150 metres long the Cöln is nearly as long as the battleships, but her beam

and displacement are a fraction of her larger, more heavily armoured cousins. Lying at an angle of about 45º the entire section of stern, from the officer’s quarters and main guns to the kedge anchor, have retained their shape perfectly. Only the rearmost section of decking is peeling away to reveal the mine-laying equipment below decks. On the rare occasions I have not been seduced by the beauty of the bridge and actually reach the stern, the option of returning to the shot line is close to or beyond the limits of remaining gas reserves. Deploying a dSMB from the top of the hull near the break is a plan, completing decompression stops as required. However, if you catch the gentle tide just right the return to the shot line can become a very lazy and civilized drift over the port hull – the perfect way to end the dive. The German fleet in Scapa remains one of the world’s finest wreck diving destinations, and at the top of the mustsee list is the Cöln. Intact, graceful and endlessly photogenic, this wreck should feature on every diver’s bucket list. Such is its allure, I know I will be diving the wreck again and again. 81


Useful contacts for visiting Scapa Flow CHARTER BOATS



w p 01856 851 532

w p 07774 407 093



w p 07974 178 612

w p 01856 851 110


MV KARIN w p 07850 246 831

w p 07795 966 903

NORTHLINK FERRIES While it is possible to fly to Kirkwall, the majority of UK divers make the pilgrimage with full kit, so the ferry is the most common option. You can sail from Aberdeen, but the most popular route with divers is the the 90-minute crossing from Scrabster (in the far north of Scotland) to Stromness on Orkney, home port to the Scapa diving fleet. Taking the ferry can also enable you to bring a vehicle, which will come in handy for exploring on land during the long, bright afternoons. For all the options go to and be sure to read the section on the rules regarding safe transportation of cylinders

DIVE SHOP Scapa Scuba w p 01856 851 218

FURTHER CONTACTS Orkney Harbours w Historic Environment Scotland w 83


Intuitive, intelligent, integrated

capability. You can link the same number of transmitters to provide on-board gas pressure / time remaining information. The i770R’s decompression calculations are based on the Bühlmann ZHL-16C algorithm. There is a user-selectable conservative factor for the safety conscious, alongside deep-stop and safety-stop options. It’s just a matter of customising it to suit you.


qua Lung’s i770R is the company’s latest recreational dive computer. Measuring approximately 75mm by 60mm and just over 20mm deep, this is a medium-sized device, midway between a watch-style and larger traditional-style dive computer. The bright, full-colour, thin-filmtransistor screen is impressive and more importantly, very easy to read. I could fit the computer comfortably and securely over my drysuit sleeve or on the strobe arm of my camera system with either the formidable-looking NATO-style strap or the alternative bungee strap. Three responsive push buttons provide access to the computer’s menu system; I quickly found myself scrolling through the settings with ease. The top right button switches the device on and also acts as a set / select button, while the two lower buttons scroll up (right) and down (left). While I’d always recommend reading the user manual for any new product, it seemed a very intuitive system to me that needed little explanation. Navigating through the various settings – either via the computer itself or using Bluetooth and the downloadable DiverLog+ app – should be a doddle for anyone capable of operating a smartphone. The i770R can take up to four different nitrox mixes – while I used it as a standalone unit without any optional extras, it also has wireless integration

i770R Dive Computer Company: Aqua Lung Price: £620 Tel: 01254 692 200 Web: SCUBA says The i770R is a compact, feature-rich recreational dive computer, oozing with quality. Its easy-to-read colour screen and intuitive menu system should appeal to beginners as well as advanced gas-switching divers. 84

There are visual and audible alarms for depth, dive time, ascent rate, gas switching and decompression, plus any violations that may occur along the way – along with solutions too. For example, should you skip a stop, an audible alarm will sound in conjunction with a red flashing bar stating ‘down to stop’. The right side of the display – also in red – provides the missed stop depth and deco time required. Similar warnings are also triggered for high partial pressure of oxygen and high oxygen saturation. In addition to air and nitrox, the i770R can also be used in gauge or freediving modes and its 3-axis digital compass functions across the board. After a simple rotate and turn calibration process at the surface, once underwater you select it with a long press of the set button. In this full screen mode you can choose a heading, kick on to your destination then return along a reciprocal heading. You can even time the journey with the handy chronograph. A push of the up button retains the compass in more compact form at the bottom of the main screen. Powered by a rechargeable lithium battery, the i770R should provide up to 30 hours of use before you need to use its USB charging/data cable. The i770R was an absolute pleasure to use and for anyone with challenged eyesight, its display should fit the bill nicely. As a rebreather user I’d have loved to have found a CCR mode on the i770R to bring it on a par with some of its similarly priced competitors, but for open-circuit divers who are, after all in the majority, it’s a great option. Neil Hope


Bright idea V

ersion two of Northern Diver’s compact Flexi-Light system now has an improved three-option power setting plus flashing mode. Available in five colours, including infrared, these bendy, 10cm long, 8-lumen LED lights can be attached almost anywhere on your person or kit using adhesive pads, Velcro, clips or cable-ties. They are depth-rated to 100m and have a burn time of 40 hours. Whether in low viz or diving at night, the Flexi-Light sticks can be used to identify individual divers, mark buddy teams or even as emergency navigation lights on board a boat. I gave one a whirl as a diver-recall device by clipping a flashing red stick to the line of a SMB with a carabiner, where it sank successfully to the divers. NH

Flexi-Light V2 LED Stick Company: Northern Diver Price: £6 Tel: 01257 254 444 Web: SCUBA says Northern Diver’s Flexi-Light V2 LED sticks have a whole host of applications and offer a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative to conventional chemical light sticks.

It’s behind you… M

y first impression of the 360 Observe was that it was something of a gimmick rather than a useful addition to a diver’s kit, but I gave it the benefit of the doubt and took it diving. After only a few minutes of use I almost choked on my words. This dinky little convex mirror, attached to the back of my hand via its adjustable strap, acted just like the blind spot mirror on a car. I could see my buddy above, below or to either side without craning my neck or having to stop and turn around. If you have a leaky hose or manifold then you can locate it in an instant, while for CCR users it’s possible to carry out a bubble check at any time during the dive. It may appear a little overpriced, but it does provide a great way to check on students if you’re instructing; it can be used for emergency signalling at the surface, and if you’re being stalked by sneaky seals you’ll know about that too. NH

360 Observe mirror Company: Diving Distribution Price: £19.95 Web: SCUBA says The 360 Observe gives you eyes in the back of your head! 85


Departure lounge

Travel news and offers compiled by Charlotte Boan

Blue Planet Live inspiration Tour operator Dive Worldwide has created a series of holiday packages inspired by the BBC’s week-long Blue Planet Live show, set on location in the Bahamas, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the east coast of the USA. Presenters Chris Packham, Steve Backshall and Liz Bonnin revisit some of the key locations and marine animals featured in Blue Planet II as well as explore new ones. The Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea Safari includes dives on the outer Blue Ribbon Reefs and two days in the remote reefs of the Coral Sea by liveaboard

over seven days. Departing from Cairns, Queensland the trip starts from £2,275 per person, excluding international flights. Price includes full board liveaboard accommodation, up to 26 dives, and transfers. The Visit the Bahamas Dive Worldwide seven-night package starts from £1,875 per person. The price includes return flights from the UK, room only accommodation at the Orange Hill Beach Inn, Nassau, and six days of boat diving with Stuart Cove’s Dive Centre.

vessel Normand Reach. As well as a descent to the wreck on the five-person submersible, Titan, there are also opportunities to assist in photography and sonar mapping, and data collection to create a 3D virtual model. At the end of the once-in-alifetime experience, guests will be treated to a ten-course celebratory dinner. The fine dining experience will be an expertly prepared recreation of the Titanic’s ten-course late evening menu that was enjoyed by its first-class passengers on 14 April 1912. This will be paired with “period-suited wines” for authenticity. SCUBA was told prices of the trip are only made available on application. See the website for more information –

Dive and dine Titanic expedition A luxury adventure tour company is selling nine spaces on one of the first manned submersible dives to wreck of the Titanic in more than a decade. Cookson Adventurers, a British-based self-styled ‘ultra-luxury’ travel company, has teamed up with submersible operator OceanGate to offer clients the chance to venture 4,000 metres down to see the wreck as part of the Titanic Survey Expedition in July 2019. Departing St John’s in Newfoundland, Canada, guests will journey to the site of the Titanic on state-of-the-art support

Call 01962 302 087 for more information or see

Crowd pleaser Oonasdivers is offering bespoke dive group trips to the Egyptian Red Sea on the British owned and operated liveaboard, MV Legends. The liveaboard, complete with a diver lift, has a maximum capacity of 18 guests for accommodation in nine twin cabins and specialises in whole boat charters. These run as specific interest dive itineraries, from beginner to technical rebreather level, in both Northern and Southern Red Sea locations. The MV Legends team said it is always on the lookout for new sites, and aims to offer a “completely different experience” to standard Red Sea liveaboard operations. Group prices start from £995 per person, including flights. For more information call 01323 648 924 or see


TRAVEL FOCUS Bite-Back and blue o two fight for sharks Award-winning holiday company blue o two is teaming up with Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation, pledging to raise £10,000 for the charity in 2019. The announcement comes after blue o two removed all single-use plastic bottles and straws from its Red Sea and Maldives fleets, and pledged that its vessels will be single-use plastic free by the end of 2019. The global dive operator has committed to raise money to support Bite-Back and its pioneering campaign to eliminate the sale of shark products in the UK. Bite-Back’s campaign successes have prompted ASDA, Iceland Foods and nationwide cash-and-carry operator MAKRO to end the sale of mako, thresher and blue shark products. The charity has reported an 82 per cent fall in the number of restaurants serving shark fin soup. Last

summer it launched a campaign calling on the UK media to drop the clichéd killer shark headlines and accurately report shark encounters. Campaign director for Bite-Back, Graham Buckingham, said: “When you realise that nearly half (46 per cent) of all Brits would prefer an ocean without sharks, you get a clear understanding of the enormity of the challenge. For that reason we’re enormously proud and grateful that blue o two has chosen to get behind Bite-Back’s campaigns with funding, outreach and exposure to thousands of its loyal customers around the world.” Managing director for blue o two, Alyson Tyler, said: “Choosing to support Bite-Back was an easy decision. For over a decade the charity has run intelligent

and impressive campaigns that have delivered real results that champion shark conservation and help safeguard the marine environment. We’re certain our clients will love this partnership too.” From this month, blue o two customers will also have the chance to pledge a donation to Bite-Back when making a booking to any of its 15 destinations.

Dates with Duxy A popular character on the underwater photography teaching circuit, Paul ‘Duxy’ Duxfield has teamed up with Diverse Travel and Emperor Divers to run two Egyptian Red Sea liveaboard workshops in 2019. Offering a relaxed approach and personal advice on photo, video, processing and production, as well as ‘open deck’ and guided diving, Duxy will lead the trips in June and November this year. The North & Easy trip aboard Emperor Superior, visiting Ras Mohammed, Straits of Tiran, and Thistlegorm and Dunraven wrecks is between 21 and 28 June, starting from £1,545 per person. The South for Winter sailing on Emperor Elite, visiting Abu Dabab, Fury Shoals, Elphinstone and the wreck of Hamada is between 30 November and 7 December, starting from £1,520 per person. The price of both trips includes return flights from London to Hurghada, full board seven night’s twin cabin accommodation, six days’ diving, fees, nitrox, transfers and day room at Elysees Hotel Hurghada. For more information call 01473 852 002, email or see


Welcome… to our Travel Partners BSAC members can get exclusive discounts from the following dive travel operators: blue o two – 5% off all prices including special offers (excludes Hayah) Diverse Travel – 5% off all prices, including special offers Regaldive – 6% off all prices, 11% off during occasional sale periods Scuba Travel – 10% off Red Sea, 5% off worldwide, 5% off Red Sea special offers Visit for more info including terms and conditions.


Shipwrecks worldwide – a global voyage from A to Z

Charlotte Boan picks a wreck for every letter of the alphabet. Most are signature dives, some are deep and a few are off-limits, but they are all prime examples of history under water



LOCATION: Gran Canaria DEPTH: 20 to 40m Cargo ship, sank in 1972 after a fire on board

One of the biggest and best wreck dives in the Canaries, with sunlit swim throughs and marine life aplenty, this former Spanish merchant ship is still largely intact and resting on its side. Machinery, equipment and scattered artefacts are still visible inside its main compartment, which remains largely undamaged and simple to access. Giant anemones and sponges dominate the structure including its large hull and towers. Angel sharks, barracuda, sardines are also common visitors.



LOCATION: Grenada DEPTH: 30 (deck) to 52m (seabed) Italian cruise liner, sank on tow in 1961 after a fire on board




LOCATION: Jordan DEPTH: 7 (mast) to 25 metres (seafloor) Cargo vessel sunk in Aqaba in 1985 90

Scuttled by royal request – by none other than scuba enthusiast King Abdullah II, the Cedar Pride has to be the most well-known of all the dive sites along the tiny stretch of Jordanian Red Sea coast. The calm, clear current free waters make for an easy exploration of this highly scenic wreck, which lies port side across two reefs. Around its coral encrusted structure, you are likely to find frogfish, Napoleon wrasse, barracuda, lionfish, and a snap of eager photographers stalking the crow’s nest.


Covering the length of two football pitches, the sheer scale of this former Italian cruise ship bumps all other B contenders off our list. The Bianca C, dubbed the ‘Titanic of the Caribbean’ sank on tow after a fire in the engine room in 1961. While strong storms have broken up large sections of the upright structure over the decades, several heavy metal drift dives are still required to see it all, and, of course, take the obligatory dip inside the mid-ship swimming pool.





LOCATION: Ibiza DEPTH: 26 (hull) 47 metres (seafloor) Cargo and passenger vessel. Crashed into reef in 2007

Getting wrecked and havin’ it large in Ibiza, for divers, at least, is more sunken Don Pedro than drunken San Antonio. One of the Med’s largest wrecks, this former cargo vessel lies at slight angle on the sandy bottom near the island’s main harbour. This mighty metal structure is completely covered in marine life and serves up impressive views on every level. Highlights include the wheel house, large propeller, and the lifeboat still attached to its hull. On good visibility days at the stern, you’ll view an entire sun lit structure ascending from 44 metres up to its shallowest point at 26 metres.



LOCATION: Bikini, Pacific Ocean DEPTH: 12 (stern) to 36m (bow) German Admiral Hipper-class heavy cruiser PHOTO: BARRY SMITH



One of the German Navy’s largest and most powerful ships, Prinz Eugen was part of the Bismarck-led fleet that sank Britain’s HMS Hood in 1941. Impounded as the war ended, Prinz Eugen was assigned as a target by the US Navy for the Operation Crossroads nuclear tests in Bikini Atoll. A survivor of two nuclear blasts, Prinz Eugen was eventually towed away and capsized in shallow water in 1946. The wreck lies upside down, but the sheer scale of the structure, its three gigantic propellers, and time-forgiving depths, offer a perfect Bikini Atoll expedition entrée.


LOCATION: Egypt DEPTH: 10 to 24m Japanese-built Cargo Ship, sank in 1983


LOCATION: Truk Lagoon DEPTH: 26 (hull) 47 metres (seafloor) Six-hold freighter commissioned into the Japanese Navy for aircraft delivery. Bombed in 1940



Hundreds of craft were sunk in Truk lagoon, Micronesia, during Operation Hailstorm in the Second World War, marking the destination a big metal must on any world wreck tour. The colossal upright coral encrusted structure of the former Japanese Fujikawa Maru is a dive for all levels. There are opportunities to explore inside the engine room, storage and work areas, which are filled with aircraft and artillery remains. Finning in visibility averaging 25 metres, the site serves up dramatic views at every turn, such as its deck-mounted gun at 18 metres.

One of the most identifiable of all Egyptian Red Sea wrecks, the Giannis D is one of the four sunken victims of the Abu Nuhas reef system. The structure lies broken in three parts on its port side at a 45-degree angle to the surface, with its partially bent propeller resting at its deepest point at 24 metres. Along the main deck area, you fin over coral blanketed bollards, winches and boat davits, while the inside of the wreck is populated with a variety of life, such as glassfish and scorpionfish. The angle of the wreck can be disorientating for the inexperienced, however. PHOTO: SIMON ROGERSON



Claiming a history even more colourful than the variety marine life that now lives on its remains, the Hilma Hooker was under intense investigation by the FBI and Interpol before any diver. The former cargo-ship-turned-drug-trafficker was found to be carrying 11,000kg of marijuana in a secret hold after it was left abandoned at port because of engine trouble. Left languishing under detention with no one willing to claim ownership, the vessel took on water and eventually sank to a depth of 30 metres between two reefs - of the coral variety! Very little of the structure is penetrable, nevertheless its lengthy exterior and giant prop make for a rivetting dive. PHOTO: JOHN BANTIN



LOCATION: Bonaire DEPTH: 8 to 30m Dutch freighter, sank in 1984



Robert Shaw’s scene stealing performance as gritty shark hunter Quint in Jaws (1975) vividly recalled the chilling ordeal of the USS Indianapolis disaster, which saw the greatest loss of life from a single ship in US history. The ship had just delivered the Hiroshima bomb when it was struck by two Japanese submarine torpedoes. It took 12 minutes for it to sink without trace in the Philippine Sea. Only 317 of the 1,200 sailors survived adrift at sea with dehydration, starvation and circling oceanic white tip and tiger sharks claiming many lives. Billionaire Paul Allen funded the sub mission to film the wreck at a depth of 5.5 kilometres in 2017.

LOCATION: Philippines DEPTH: 5,500 metres US Naval ship, Second World War

The top contender for the UK’s most popular wreck dive, the James Eagan Layne was IS FOR THE JAMES EAGAN carrying thousands of tons of US army LAYNE, PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND engineer equipment when torpedoed near Plymouth by a German U-Boat on route from Wales to Belgium in 1945. Towed and eventually sank at Whitsand Bay, Cornwall, LOCATION: Plymouth ‘the James’ came to rest upright at a depth DEPTH: 8 (bow) to 24 metres of 24 metres. Much of the gun heavy cargo US Liberty cargo ship was removed in subsequent years, however, a smattering of equipment still remains today in its five holds. Its most widely recognised features include its spoked agricultural wheels and boilers.





LOCATION: Grand Cayman DEPTH: 5 to 20 metres US Navy submarine rescue vessel


Reported to have been the first rescue ship on the scene when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986, the USS Kittiwake was deliberately sunk as an artificial reef for divers in 2011. A five-minute boat ride from the nearest jetty, the Kittiwake is dive for all levels, with current-free good visibility and easy-access areas to explore inside at a leisurely pace. Torches are useful, however there’s lots of natural light penetrating the many openings.





LOCATION: Bali DEPTH: 4 to 30 metres US Army cargo ship built in 1918 and torpedoed in 1942

The USAT Liberty served as a US cargo ship in the First and Second World Wars. Torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in 1942, the vessel beached on the shores of Tulamben until a volcanic eruption in 1963 moved the wreck to its final resting place close to shore on a sandy slope. An easy, calm, clear fin from shore, the wreck is enveloped in spectacular rainbow of marine life, from pygmy seahorses to a big school of bumphead parrotfish. PHOTO: SIMON ROGERSON



LOCATION: Maldives DEPTH: 15 to 35 metres Singaporean cargo ship, sank in 1981

The Victory was carrying tourist goods to Male when it ran aground and sank bolt upright off Hulhule Island in 1981. Now a much-loved dive, the structure is a magnet for marine life, from hard and soft coral cover, to large groupers, batfish and schooling jacks in the surrounding blue water. This makes for a spectacular sight as you descend the mast from 15 metres to the deck at 25 metres. The bow rests at the seafloor at 35 metres, from where you can ascend to see scattered cargo including bottles, cigarette cases and mosaic tiles, before heading to the bridge.



LOCATION: Egypt DEPTH: 8 to 80 metres Steam cargo ship, sank in 1901 PHOTO: SIMON ROGERSON


It is rumoured that Numidia’s second officer, fell asleep at the wheel when the over-exhausted Captain commanded him to take over. The Numidia veered off course and collided with Big Brother reef – close to the island’s working lighthouse. The wreck’s 118-year-old remains lie perpendicular to the sloping reef from 8 to 80 metres. Currents here are strong, but offer a spectacular dive with access to the engine room and three cargo holds.


LOCATION: Florida, USA DEPTH: 26m (stack) 41m (flight deck) to 65m (sea floor) US Essex-class aircraft carrier. Deliberately sunk in 2006 Affectionately nicknamed ‘the Mighty O’ and ‘Great Carrier Reef’, the USS Oriskany wreck is one of largest artificial reefs created for divers in the world. A former US aircraft carrier, Oriskany served in the Pacific during the Second World War, and earned two battle stars in the Korean War and five for its service in the Vietnam War. A mammoth two-year operation was undertaken to make the vessel dive-safe before being carefully sunk in 2006 off Florida.






LOCATION: Malta DEPTH: 12 to 37 metres East German Kondor-class minesweeper, scuttled in 2007 One of Malta’s most popular recreational wrecks, the P29 had all its engines stripped and toxins removed before it was scuttled for divers as an artificial reef in the exceptional clear waters of Cirkewwa in 2007. Easily accessible from shore, the wreck offers an ideal introduction to wreck penetration, as most of its areas were left open for experienced divers to explore. An abundant variety of Mediterranean marine life has taken up residence over the last 12 years. PHOTO: RICK AYRTON

LOCATION: Plymouth DEPTH: 57 metres Former collier, torpedoed 1918



LOCATION: New Zealand DEPTH: 27 metres Scottish-built trawler-turnedenvironmental-protest-vessel



A wreck of legend and many years of searching by divers, the Stock Force battle story inspired an early action movie and led to its Captain Lieutenant Harold Auten being awarded the Victoria Cross. Stock Force was one of 200 heavily armed decoy ‘Q-ships’ used during the First World War in top secret missions to lure and launch surprise attacks on German U-Boats. Force was torpedoed in an epic battle with UB-80, a U-Boat responsible for sinking around 20 Allied ships. In 2013 a team of divers led by wreck hunter Steven Moritmer eventually found Stock Force eight miles away from where it was originally thought to have sunk. 94

Blown up by the French Secret Service in 1985, the Rainbow Warrior was docked at Auckland Harbour waiting to lead a Greenpeace protest against nuclear testing in French Polynesia. French agents had infiltrated Greenpeace and planned to stop the protests. The explosions killed Portuguese photographer Fernando Pereria and sparked international outrage. The ship was initially re-floated by authorities for forensic examination, before being towed and scuttled as an artificial reef in Matauri Bay in the Cavalli Islands in 1987. The Rainbow Warrior sits upright on the seabed and is carpeted in pink and blue and anemones.




LOCATION: Bikini Atoll, Pacific Ocean DEPTH: 52 metres US Lexington-class aircraft carrier




LOCATION: Sudan DEPTH: 5 to 37 metres Italian transport vessel, scuppered


LOCATION: Egypt DEPTH: 16 (bow) to 33 metres (stern) Second World War cargo steamer



The most famous of all underwater museums, and still one of the world’s top-rated wreck dives. SS Thistlegorm was carrying supplies for British troops across the Egyptian Red Sea when a German air bomb ripped the ship in half and killed nine of the 42 crew on board on 6 October 1941. Filled with equipment including locomotives, motorcycles, Bedford trucks, munitions and troop uniforms, the wreck came to rest on a sandy seabed at 33m. Although its location was always known to local Bedouin fisherman, its discovery has always been credited to scuba pioneer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who dived Thistlegorm in the 1950s.

USS Saratoga is a signature Bikini Atoll dive, with a main structure equalling the length of the HMS Titanic. One of the first aircraft carriers of its kind to serve in the Pacific seas in the Second World War, USS Saratoga survived countless attacks from Japanese fighters and one atomic bomb before eventually surrendering to the sea during the second Operation Crossroads atomic bomb test. Sitting upright and surprisingly well intact in 52 metres of water, no two dives on this immense vessel are ever the same.


The Umbria was 20 miles from Port Sudan in 1940 when Captain Lorenzo Muisesan was notified that Italy had declared war on Britain. Carrying a mixed cargo of cars and 360,000 aircraft bombs, he ordered the vessel to be scuttled to prevent its contents falling into enemy hands. The vast wreck of the Umbria lies at a 60-degree angle on its port side, where its cargo can be seen within easily accessible holds. 97

TRAVEL SPECIAL LOCATION: Croatia DEPTH: 48 to 60 metres Yugoslavian cargo steamer



LOCATION: Norway DEPTH: 14 to 70 metres German Second World War supply ship


A modern ship for its age and class, the DS Welheim was one of many German freighters that delivered supplies for the Kriegsmarine during the Second World War. Carrying a cargo of coal en route to Alesund in 1944, DS Welheim was torpedoed by a Norwegian MT-717. The vessel sank a few hours later, resting port side, with its bow at 14 metres and twin propellers at 70m. A towering sight underwater, the Welheim’s four huge cranes are still in place.



Resting upright on a sandy bottom at 60 metres in clear Croatian water, the SS Vis is considered to be one of the best preserved wrecks in the Adriatic. It is only suitable for advanced divers with extended range training. SS Vis was a Yugoslavian Cargo Steamer built in 1921, which was mined near Cape Masnjak off the Istrain coast in 1946. The intact structure is blanketed in life and a popular site for visiting underwater photographers.




LOCATION: Malta DEPTH: 110 metres Phoenician shipwreck, dates back to 700BC As the oldest recorded wreck ever discovered in the Mediterranean, the story of Xlendi’s Phoenician ship was headline news when it was first located in 2007. In 2016, a team of technical divers descended 110 metres off the Maltese island of Gozo to explore the 2,700-year-old wreckage, which had previously only been seen via remotely operated cameras. The divers discovered several historically important artefacts, including an amphora pot from Malta, which suggests the Maltese islands were an important part of the Phoenician trade route. The site is off-limits unless you are part of the research effort.





LOCATION: Egypt DEPTH: 10 to 25 metres (cargo) 160 metres (wreck) Cypriot freighter, struck reef and sank in 1980 A scattered cargo of toilets, baths, sinks and a BMW car is what this Ras Mohammed wreck dive is most famous for, particularly as the vessel itself has slipped down to 160 metres. Its name was given to the coral garden reef it crashed into in 1980, at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula. While technical divers have reached its main structure, this worldcelebrated dive is more famously conducted along Shark Reef’s wall. From here you drift above a richly vibrant coral garden that has somehow beautified a pile of toilet bowls.

LOCATION: Cyprus DEPTH: 16 metres (starboard side deck) 42 metres (portside on the seabed) Swedish built ferry, capsized during its maiden voyage in 1980



Consistently voted as one the world’s best wreck dives, the Zenobia was heading for Syria with a cargo of 104 lorries when a malfunction in the ballast system led to her sinking on her side at 42 metres. Never salvaged, the entire cargo is still visible. From entry-level dives around the deck at 16 metres in calm clear waters, to penetration dives in the cargo holds beyond 40 metres, the Zenobia is the perfect ending to our alphabetical wreck voyage. PHOTO: NEIL HOPE



Feel the Flow

– Scapa through a lens


nderwater photography in Scapa is as difficult as it gets. The wrecks are very big, visibility is variable and ambient light is a precious resource. The traditional photographers’ tactic of firing away with a powerful flash either side of the camera will only get you so far. Take a look at this special issue of SCUBA and you will see some world100

class photography from the likes of Steve Jones, Marjo Tynkkyen and Bob Anderson. What you won’t see is a lot of camera-mounted light, as they mostly use natural light with off-camera torches to pick out the highlights. Conditions on these wrecks can be dark, so the go-to setting on your camera is the ISO, essentially the sensitivity of

SCUBA Editor Simon Rogerson has some advice for anyone who brings a camera to Orkney – try shooting without a flash

WHERE: Aft end of torpedo tube on SMS Cöln, Scapa Flow CAMERA: Nikon D500 in Nauticam housing; Tokina 10-17mm lens at 10mm. 1/60th sec at f8; ISO 1600. Lighting by external torches

the light sensors on the chip. A decade ago, anything over ISO 400 yielded an unacceptable level of warped pixels,


what we call ‘digital noise’. Today, on decent modern cameras, you can ramp it up to ISO 2,000 or more before your pictures become unacceptably noisy. For this photograph of a torpedo tube on the Cöln, my model Bob Anderson has placed a powerful torch inside the tube as well as lighting it from the outside. This had the side-effect of illuminating Bob’s owl-like mask. Although it was dark, I found I could create a bright green background by angling the camera upwards slightly. The viz that day was a hazy 2.5 metres, but thanks to the close-focus wide-angle technique, it looks relatively clear.


y second image shows a diver inside the blockship Tabarka. Again, I’m shooting with a wideangle lens and no flash. Having entered the wreck and shot a few frames to gauge the light, I settled on ISO of 800, exposing for the openings in the hull. I selected a slightly faster shutter speed, as it was difficult to stay still due to water movement inside the wreck. Having identified the area I wanted to photograph, I asked my buddy to swim into the scene, where he had to maintain position against the current as it flowed in through those gaps. He swam to the exact spot I had indicated, where light

WHERE: Inside the blockship Tabarka, Scapa Flow CAMERA: Nikon D500 in Nauticam housing Tokina 10-17mm lens at 10mm 1/80th sec f5 ISO 800. No flash

was streaming down from another gap in the upturned hull above him. This created a spotlight effect that back-lit the model, highlighting his shape in the dark. I used the same technique I use in caverns – shoot from the darkness, towards the light source. I later converted the image to black and white in Photoshop and increased the contrast to emphasise the scene’s elemental nature. Charles Erb and Trevor Rees will return next month

Top tips for shooting in Scapa As in all underwater photography, you must be confident with the diving before you go in with a camera. This is especially true of Scapa. You may not need strobes, but quality glass is essential. For compact users this means a wide-angle supplemental lens; for DSLR owners a fisheye lens.

High ISO settings make your camera ultra-sensitive to light, so brief your models not to aim their torches directly at the lens, or you’ll get a horrible blown-out effect. Aim the torches to highlight features on the wreck. Diving with a club? Ask your buddies to model – they can help light your scenes

with their powerful torches. Plan the photo as you plan the dive, but never let photography compromise a dive plan. If you have great viz, make the most of the opportunity – move back from the wreck and capture a wider scene. Be considerate of your fellow divers, and please don’t kick up the viz. 101

YOUR POSTCARDS Every month we will publish a series of your photos. Make sure you and your club get noticed! Send in your photos to

Wirral’s escape committee

Home grown CCR divers

Wirral Sub-Aqua Club members enjoyed a social day out at Breakout in Chester - four rooms were booked and two teams cracked the codes to ‘break out’ in under an hour. The escapees are pictured here from left to right – Maike Graham, Kath Greenwood, Martin Greenwood, Margaret Grey completed the task with three minutes and 42 seconds to go!

Congratulations to Garry and Scotty who completed their MOD1 at Capernwray. They are JBOD’s first fully home grown rebreather divers having been trained by the club. Thanks to John Power, Adrian Bonehill and Ross Allan for their safety diver duties and especially to John for lending Scotty half a rebreather while he drove to Blackburn for the other half!

Book now for Solihull’s 40th Members of Solihull Sub Aqua Club are preparing for their 40th anniversary. A celebration event is planned for 28 September 2019. Past members are welcome to attend. For further details contact the club through



Ready and raring to go Rhondda Sub Aqua Club’s newly qualified Ocean Divers took the plunge at Stackpole Quay in Pembrokeshire. They had two newly qualified ODs taking their first dives in the sea. Unfortunately visibility was less than 1m – a real pea souper, but they still spotted several dogfish and edible crabs.

iDive’s Carol is the tops To the rescue, practically A Practical Rescue Management course took place at the Mount Batten Centre in Plymouth and was attended by 10 divers from three local BSAC clubs: Plymouth Sound Divers, East Cornwall and Totnes SAC. Organised by Chris Shelley, it was an excellent example of local clubs working together to help divers progress towards Dive Leader and provide refresher training for already qualified divers.

Congratulations to Carol Wood on receiving the Nigel Burges Cup from Diving for All Ambassador, Neil Heritage, for making the most progress in her diving skills (during 2018) and for becoming an Instructor and also a Diving for All Instructor. The presentation took place at iDive’s annual dinner.

Icebreakers in Bristol Divers from Severnside Sub-Aqua Club in Bristol started off the new diving year with their annual ‘icebreaker’ dive at Cromhall Quarry followed by a fundraising lunch for the DDRC Healthcare Charity in Plymouth. Apart from CCRs and twin-sets, one of the divers even enjoyed their first ever open water dive in their new drysuit – much-appreciated in the 8°C water.


Contributors Emily Turton is a technical diver, dive boat skipper and lecturer in Maritime Studies. She can usually be found aboard her purposebuilt dive boat MV Huskyan. Emily has dedicated the last 15 years to the wrecks of Scapa Flow and continues to champion the wrecks of the German Fleet. She is the driving force behind the Scapa 100 Initiative, a project set up to commemorate the centenary of the scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet. For this special issue she wrote the section on the light cruiser and mine-layer wrecks.

Bob Anderson is known to UK divers as skipper of the popular liveaboard MV Halton, which tours Orkney, Shetland and Norway. This month we coaxed him from the wheelhouse to write and photograph his perspective on Scapa Flow’s battleships, his favourite sites in the Flow. Bob started diving as a teenager and, as he puts it, “never left the pool”. He relishes his life of skippering, diving and wheelhousebased wisdom on board the Halton. Our thanks to Bob for hosting us during SCUBA’s research trip to Scapa last September.

Helen Hadley writes about her experiences operating a dive boat in the Flow for this special oneoff issue of SCAPA. Helen started her diving career in the North Sea, cutting her teeth on sites at the Farne Islands, St Abbs and Eyemouth. Helen describes her first visit to Scapa as lighting “a fire that still burns”, as Orkney is such a special place to her. She started working on a dive boat as crew and worked her way towards her skipper’s qualifications. Helen is now skipper and co-owner of the liveaboard MV Valkyrie.

May rsuits de un ng di an st er UThnd -up ted Kit in ermal solutions tested er si er P e th at e PExoiplontrem in c ssi cla t the South Coas gs in Th y tt PThre omer s nudibranchs Sk for e hunt is on d Liberty LiBSfeACan s new rebreather course reviewed s as cl i KExiw ing with BSAC New Zealand div ory plorat 105


In praise of the blockships They are the unsung heroes of a Scapa trip, the wrecks that offer a thrilling postscript to diving the German ships. Simon Rogerson heads for Burra Sound


had a great time in Scapa last year preparing for this special issue of SCUBA. Most of our dives were spent in still water, trying to make sense of the jigsaw of the German wrecks. This is where the real nourishment of the Scapa experience lies. But sometimes it’s equally satisfying to do something frivolous, and for a complete change in scenery the blockships of Burra Sound offer a dynamic counterpoint. During the First World War the blockships were first sunk in the smaller channels to prevent submarine access to the Flow. However, by the start of the Second World War the remaining defences were proven inadequate in October 1939 when the German submarine U-47 entered the Flow and sank HMS Royal Oak at anchor, with the loss of 834 men. In response, Winston Churchill ordered the construction of permanent concrete barriers across the channels, and more

blockships were sunk, including the Tabarka. The Tabarka is one of just three remaining blockships and is a shallow wreck, at just 15 metres to the seabed. It may sound like an easy dive, but the tidal flow is so strong that this wreck should really only be dived at slack, or for what passes for slack at Burra Sound. The idea is to descend quickly and head into the lee of the wreck. Numerous holes offer ways to penetrate its cavernous holds, and it is here inside the structure that you will spend most of your dive. The classic route starts at the stern by ducking under the hull plates and following the prop shaft inside the wreck. Torches are

Above: Peering into the Dyle’s holds Below: Boilers on the Tabarka

useful to enjoy the colourful marine life, but enough light spills in through gaps in the hull, where juvenile pollock hold position against the current. In the middle of the wreck you will find three large boilers, their fire doors open, over which the divers must swim to progress to the engine room. If you’re diving on a low water slack, the water runs south, carrying divers back into the Flow (I recall the sound of cattle lowing across the water, on Hoy). Deploying a dSMB from the Tabarka’s shelter is no mean feat, as the current can be so strong that the line goes horizontal and fails to reach the surface. Bring a good reel and prepare yourself for the Mary Poppins experience! The blockship Dyle (scuttled during the First World War) was another of my favourites, though it has been a long time since I dived it and I hear conflicting reports about the wreck’s condition today. I remember this dive as a riot of colour, the hull and propeller coated so thickly with anemones it looked as if it had been painted red. The site was rich with fish life and strands of kelp billowed from the top of the upturned hull like uncontrollable hair in the current. So yes, you visit Scapa for the cruisers and battleships, to perhaps see guns that fired against the British Navy at the Battle of Jutland. But the blockships add another dimension to the Scapa experience; the thrill of diving in unusually clear water and big currents. That’s why I’ll always look forward to my blockship dives. Got a Greatest Dive Story? Send a brief outline to and your full story could be published here.


Profile for BSAC divers

SCAPA Flow Anniversary Issue SCUBA Magazine