by Amy Hallsworth
The time has come to go a bit further from becoming an Open Water diver-what to do now? If you move on and manage to get your Advanced Open Water Diver license, you’ll be able to go a bit deeper than previously (up to 18-30 metres rather than the 18 metres you were limited to beforehand) Obviously the UK isn’t top of every divers’ list of places to dive, but there are still plenty of quality dive spots around the UK coastline that can be explored that aren’t too deep. The UK offers up shallow sea beds, so hours of extensive deep sea diving experience isn’t required, and there are a vast number of sunken shipwrecks and even sunken submarine wrecks just a few kilometres from our shores. Sometimes you can have a great deal of fun without going too deep-with that in mind, here are the 5 top wreck dives in and around the UK up to 30 meters deep!
HMS DRAKE (Ballycastle, N. Ireland – Depth 18m)
The HMS Drake, a 1902 built 529ft triple-expansion engined warship sits approximately 1km South off the South coast of Rathlin Island (Just off the coast of Ballycastle, N. Ireland) and is the shallowest of our wrecks, sitting at 18m deep. The ship itself was sunk by a torpedo from a German U-boat on 2nd October 1916. The captain actually successfully anchored in Church Bay, Rathlin Island but the ship later capsized. The entire hull is open through Royal Navy salvage, but beware of live ammunition!
HMS M2 (Weymouth, S. England – Depth 30m)
The HMS M2 was a submarine built in 1918, it was 296ft and originally carried a 12inch diameter gun which was replaced in 1928 and swapped with a hangar to carry a folded-wing sea plane complete with catapult launch. Currently 4km SW off the coast of Weymouth at a depth of 30m. The Plane was since recovered, but the hangar door remains open. The sub went down on 26th Jan 1932, during a training exercise and it is believed that the hangar door was opened before they had fully surfaced and the sub was lost. All 60 crew on board were lost – this is a war grave, so standards must be adhered to.
HMS Port Napier (Loch Alsh – Isle of Skye – Depth 21m)
Built in 1940, and originally a merchant ship but later converted to a mine-layer vessel, the 498ft armed ship carried a cargo of 550 sea mines and 6000 rounds of ammunition for the 10 AA guns aboard. Located 300m North off the South Eastern coast of the Isle of Skye in Loch Alsh, with a depth of 21m. The ship was sunk on 27th November 1940 after less than a year’s service when a fire broke out during the loading of mines at Kyle of Loch Alsh.
The Breda (Ardmucknish Bay, Scotland – Depth 30m)
This Dutch built cargo steamer, originating from the shipyards of Holland in 1921 and measuring 418ft long, is located 1Km West from the Eastern coast of Scotland’s Ardmucknish Bay. Depth 30m. It was sunk on the 23rd December 1940 by near-misses from a German Heinkel 111 bomber. The ship itself was not hit, but the force of the nearby explosions caused piping to break in the engine room and the ship flooded. Cargo available to see – aircraft, aircraft engines, cigarette tins etc.
The James Eagan Layne (Rame, Plymouth, S. England – Depth 24m)
This US built transport/battleship, built in 1944 and approx 441 ft in length, currently sits 1.5km South off the coast of Rame (near Plymouth) S. England, 24m below the surface. A battle cargo ship with both bow and stern guns but also 5 smaller AA turrets, the James Eagan Layne was transporting essential war supplies i.e. lorries, Jeeps, tank parts and general supplies. The ship sank on 21st March 1945 after it was hit by a torpedo from a U-1195 submarine. At the time, The Layne was towed and left on Whitsand Bay, but later sank into the deeper water of the bay. It is such a popular dive that there is a taxi service to the wreck run by local boats!
All these dives are easy, safe dives and 4 out of the 5 are less than 2km from the UK coastline (but it still advise that you are wreck certified before diving them).
Personal recommendation from the author:
Having a wetsuit that fits you correctly is imperative (some companies offer up to 10 different sizes) and some of the benefits can include comfort, maneuverability insulation to the cold (if the suit is too big you won’t have any), elimination of flushing and so on. There are many benefits to having your own suit as opposed to a hired one, including the bonus that you don’t have to put on a suit someone else has just worn! I recommend you go to http://www.secretspot.co.uk/wetsuits/ for more information if you like.