OMG an AATCPP!
As some of you may know, Johno and I love to dive unknown wreck sites, we enjoy it because you never know what you are going to find! It might be a steam train, a bell or even a large random pipe!
This particular occasion we knew that whatever it was it was 3m wide and 27m long and there were 4 in a row. So we went down the shot line expecting to find a string of barges or something like a mulberry (a DIY harbour used for D-day) we were not expecting to find what we did. On the bottom Johno and I had a quick swim around and despite the poor visibility we knew exactly what we were diving…… an AATCPP!
For those who don’t know, an AATCPP is an Anti-Air Torpedo Close Protection Pontoon. These were barges that were towed into position around the bows and sterns of warships in harbour. Once in place, a large chain net was deployed to protect the warship from torpedoes dropped by planes. Unfortunately it took about 4 hours to deploy, and the same again to remove, not really very handy if you needed to move your warship in a hurry so they were never really used much.
So what makes these 4 AATCPP’s so interesting?
Well those of us that went on the last club trip up to Scapa Flow in Orkney dived the wreck of 2 other AATCPP’s (which is why we recognised it) they are quite distinctive, they are flat barges with mooring points all around them. In the middle is a tall winch and strung along one side is the chain net. But that’s not the interesting bit, according to historical records these pontoons were only ever used in Orkney, so how did 4 of them manage to end up off the Isle of Wight? We have no idea, but it will keep the Scottish history buffs interested for a while!
Having spoken to the Scottish history buff there are more questions than answers. The current theory is that these AATCPP’s were being towed out of Portsmouth to be dumped in St Catherine’s deep and were either dropped early or encountered heavy weather and sunk. There is more investigation to be done but this is part of the fun of diving unknown sites.