Read the concluding part of the blog from members of Newbury Scuba Diving Club who spent a week diving in Scapa Flow
Ian’s undersuit is now dry, Kev’s nuts are on and tight, Jonathan’s reel is present and accounted for, so all ready to go……SMS König
König is the class name ship for the German battleships, as the Markgraf and Kron Prinze these ships are massive and after the scuttling, upside down. So the focus of this dive was the stern section looking for the steering quadrants and rudders. We are all kitted up in time with the usual kit faff getting 11 divers ready. Ready, Ready and Drop, Drop, Drop and we’re off.
The shot was on the rear of the “castle”. This is a secure section of the ship where officers and men plotted the firing solutions to inflict maximum damage to the intended target with the flying smart car.
The super-efficient turbine was there along with the rudders and German flags. Swimming aft the single upright rudder is visible. Then swimming past the shot line a shoal of herring was seen. The shoal then parted and a seal appeared after its breakfast.
An hour later all the divers were back on board with no buddy swapping on the line happening. Jon did find an SMB at 20m just on the bilge keel all ready to go. Later it was found to be Doug juniors one, who will now be investing in bolt snaps rather than the more traditional carabiner.
A mac and cheese lunch followed thus enabling the dive team to sleep soundly prior to diving on the …… SMS Karlsruhe
More muppetry, this time it was Simon, who jumped in, got back out, put on his weight belt and jumped back in. Unknown to everyone else, Matt fortunately was spared this ridicule as he remembered to put his weight harness on…after he had already climbed into his kit with suit feed connected and buckles all tight ready to go!
Vasco joined us for the second dive of the day, which was changed at the last minute to the Karlsruhe due to another dive boat already on the sub, and it is not big enough for the both of us. Still we have that to look forward to tomorrow instead.
This was the second dive on this ship and again the viz was well in excess of 5m (as before) and as it is not too deep there was plenty of time to explore. So, this meant experience of this particular wreck means a bit more detail for buddies dive planning – Matt set a textbook example of a dive plan with his buddy – pointing at the wreck diagram… “go down look at cool s**t, swim along and look at more cool s**t then come up”. From the bottom of the shot we headed towards the bow to get up close and personal with the big guns, and another visit to the flag.
From here we kept fairly close to the seabed heading towards to the stern, I was keeping an eye open in case the octopus I saw on the first dive just happened to be hanging around still, but no luck. Once we reached the stern we went around it and headed back along the other side until we reached salvaging break where we moved onto the top the wreck and followed this back taking in a nice swim through before coming across the shot line at about the right time to come up. Such an interesting dive in good viz that it would have been nice to stay for longer but we had an hour already and we were starting to get cold.
It was chucking it down by the time we got back, but it didn’t stop most of us wandering into “town” and spending some money (you can never bring back too much fudge!). For the first time this week no one went to the shiny shop for suit repairs or replacement kit!
Evening meal: Puff pastry tartlets, lamb casserole with boiled spuds n veg and an amazing chocolate tart (nothing left over!)
Just for a change we paid a visit to the Stromness Hotel.
Started the day with an s.o.s. call to Hazel for milk. Quote of the day about the egg boiler “you need to apply quite a bit of pressure, the eggs won’t break……” closely followed by splat. “Oh”.
The Dresden was full of other boats so we decided to do the UB116 instead. Slightly longer journey out but that left plenty of time for faffing (and for Kevin to check his nuts) I think we all managed to get our kit on without forgetting anything major (Zips/weight belts/buddies/nuts/reels etc) it’s only taken a week 😉
The UB116 is well broken, something to do with the Royal Navy blowing up the torpedo that was still in the tube and ending up blowing up all 7 torpedo’s, as a result the sub is really quite flat, but still cigar tube shaped. She was quite a small sub so I think everyone managed to see or bump into everyone else, we even saw our buddy Annie for part of the dive!
Had a really enjoyable time poking into all of the holes and trying to work out what all the bits were. The hydroplanes at the stern were quite obvious, as were some gas cylinders, but the rest of it a little less so, more like a giant jigsaw puzzle!
There were big shoals of really tiny fish all over the wreck, made photography quite hard as they got in the way! Towards the end when everyone else had left the wreck we did see a couple of seabirds diving for fish (it meant we got to try out a new signal –“bird”!) another new signal was “cheese” as there was some high explosives (torpex) left on the wreck which looked like bright yellow cheese. Hazel had threatened us with all sorts if we even so much as touched it! Tempting……. Best viz of the week.
Following the dive, Vasco gave us marks for the rigidity of our sausages, it’s always good to have a full sausage, something flaccid is no good to anyone.
“Light lunch” of chilli and Doritos.
To close the account on Scapa 2019 the decision was made to dive on the AATCPP’s. These are not a bad 70’s disco song but a 1940’s way of protecting battleships when moored up.
They are Anti Airborne Torpedo Close Protection Pontoon’s and 14 were placed at the stern and bow of battleships with steel nets suspended from them.
Unfortunately on paper they were a good idea , in practice they were too slow to deploy and were of limited value. So after 11 months the Navy scrapped all but 1 set.
This final set was in Scapa flow and is now broken up with some pontoons on the beach and broken this being the most intact and at 20m.
The dive was very interesting as there are 2 pontoons one on-top of the other. This still enabled you to see the mooring bollards and winch gear that was used to suspend the nets.
The nets are also present, these are metal with 2 different sizes of link. The large ones for torpedo’s from Subs and the smaller one for the airborne ones. As with all this metal there are steel buoys to make them float.
After the war the Navy found a new way to dispose of these, shoot them. So these large buoys have a small hole in one side and large exit hole in the other. (oh and there was lots of non-wreck, non-food on these pontoons as well). Once the dive was finished and the hot chocolate with all the trimmings had been drunk, mass showering and packing began whilst we steamed back in. Loading the cars after pie and sticky toffee pudding resulted in finding most of the lost items, except Kevin’s nuts.
Finally the crew all ended up in the Flattie bar (where we were joined by Vasco and Paddy) where local brew was sampled in preparation for a 05:00 wakeup. It was a great evening even if Jon did xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx but then he wasn’t the only one!
05:00 came around far too soon but we did manage to get up and join the queue for the ferry in plenty of time. Amazingly they let us all back on the ferry and we were soon in the restaurant working our way through the all-you-can-eat breakfast, even if Ian N was trying to eat his with 2 forks! After a smooth crossing it was time to get back into the cars and start the long journey back to Newbury.
Massive thanks to Doug for organising, Hazel for the skippering and briefings, Vasco for the gas and looking after us on the dive deck and Paddy for the fab food! Thanks also to a great dive team for making it such a fun trip: Simon, Ian Mac, Matt, Ian N, Doug Junior, Andrew senior, Annie, Ross, Kevin, Jonathan, Johno and Cathy.