Croatia: Project Apsrytus Begins….

Croatia Technical Divers Weekend Jun 12-18.

We’re heading out on a technical diving week to Croatia in June. We have amazing package and itinerary put together to really begin to explore the amazing wrecks of the area.

This trip is open to all tec divers from those very recently qualified to more experienced divers. To get the best out of the trip you should be Tec 40 looking to qualify as Tec 45 as a minimum.

Krnica Dive Centre

Krnica Dive Centre

Before we fly: Kit workshop and dive planning refresher to make sure that everything is ready and prepared for the trip

12 June

Fly from London into Venice.
6 pm Mini-bus transfer from Venice airport to Pula (approx. 3 hours).
13 June
SS Lina – 2 dives
14 June
Baron Gautsch (max. depth 40m) – 1 dive
Giuseppe Dezza (max. depth 35m) – 1 dive
Visit to local Naval museum which includes dinner
15 June
MS Argo – bow part – (max. depth 49m) – 1 dive
MS Argo – stern part – (max. depth 49m) – 1 dive
16 June
SS Luana (max. depth 44m) – 1 dive
Cesare Rossarol (max. depth 49m) – 1 dive
Visit at a local Agriturismus for dinner
17 June
Free day. We can organise more diving or sightseeing – whatever you fancy!
18 June
Minibus transfer at approx. 1pm to Venice airport (approx. 3 hours)
Included:
  • Twin room (shared) in self catering accommodation
  • airport transfers
  • lunch on boat
  • diving permits
  • boat transfers
  • Guiding with DLL tec instructors
  • museum visit with dinner
  • agriturismus dinner
  • use of twin set with one stage
  • BBQ
Not included
  • Flights (you book your own flights). Currently around £100 with Easyjet.
  • Gas fills (approx. €200 payable on site).
  • Food and drink (other than the three arranged evenings and on the boat).
  • Activities on the last day.
the Lina

The impressive bow of the Lina before she slopes away to 50m

As you can see this is an absolutely amazing package with a brilliant dive centre on some breathtaking wrecks.  We only have 6 spaces on this trip so for more information or to book please contact us!

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Bananas, Ostriches, Cheerleaders oh my!

It’s exactly two months to the day that 26 of us were boarding a couple of jet planes on our way to a week of luxury courtesy of Blue O Two.

I couldn’t believe it was a whole 5 years since I’d been on a liveaboard holiday with Blue O Two and that time I went on my own. This time I was running the trip and we’d filled the entire boat. The difference was amazing. It felt like being on holiday with an extended family, albeit one with a rubber fetish!

Alex and I were chauffeur driven in style to the airport by Steve Barham and we treated ourselves to Valet parking. It made such a nice change than travelling by train weighed down by dive bags.

Unfortunately that’s where the luxuries ended. Alex told me that the check-in staff never bother weighing hand luggage and so we’d filled every spare inch of our bags. That was a mistake, on check in they weighed our hand luggage and they were both 5 kg overweight. Our main bags were ok but didn’t really have any spare space or weight allowance to put an extra 5kg of stuff in.

What ensued is funny in hindsight but rather stressful when experiencing it. The check-in lady sternly told us that we had to repack our bags until they were the right weight. The bags were already on the conveyor belt and she delighted in telling us that we had to crawl under the desk and onto the conveyor belt to retrieve them. Well, Alex charged onto that belt like a bull in heat! I was worried he was going to hurt himself. He dragged the bags out and we then spent 20 mins tying undersuits around our waists, putting on extra layers and filling our pockets. We tried explaining that we were the trip organisers and had other people’s dive equipment so we would be over our allowance whereas they would be under theirs and so it would all even out. Of course she just ignored us. We finally managed to meet her strict requirements and consoled ourselves with a huge Jamie Oliver breakfast. This restaurant is quickly becoming the Huggins of Malta for DLL trips.

Could this be the new Huggins?

Could this be the new Huggins?

We arrived in Hurghada and made the quick 15 min transfer to our home for the week, Blue Horizon. It’s such a beautiful yacht with a sun deck, the sky lounge, dining room and even a Jacuzzi (which unfortunately was broken).

We all quickly made ourselves at home and settled into boat life easily. Boat life consists of living by a bell. You’re told that when the bell rings you feel your hair, if it’s wet it’s time to eat, if it’s dry it’s time to dive! Dimitris decided to give himself more hair so he could really tell what was going on!

Daniel gave Dimitris a hair makeover!

Daniel gave Dimitris a hair makeover!

We had the best check out dive ever as we saw dolphins! Well I say we, everyone other than my group (consisting of Dev, Chantal and Rachel) saw dolphins. Sadly we think that Dev’s squeaky reg, which sounded a bit like Darth Vader on helium, scared them away!

It was so nice being back in tropical warm waters and it was especially warm for me as I’d been lent a Whites drysuit to use for the trip. I must say they are a joy to dive in and a pleasure to travel with as they weigh so little (ok ok, White’s plug over)!

The crew were lots of fun and amazingly helpful as always. Our dive guides were Mustafa and Leo. Rather unbelievably Alex recognised Leo as one of his Open Water instructors from many years ago in Thailand!

Alex and David were kept very busy instructing Dev, Kristine and Michael on their Tec courses. We would often seem them huddled in various corners of the boat talking all things tec. Alistair was also kept busy teaching various rec courses for Steve Connor. Steve is one of the happiest and most enthusiastic students an instructor could wish for! They would also often be found in the sky lounge talking about diving. The rest of us slept and did a bit of diving, but mainly slept!

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Meal times are the time when everybody meets up again.  I’d recently turned veggie, not for any moral reasons really, just because I wanted to. The first night was chicken soup. I asked if there was a veggie alternative and to my amusement my bowl was taken over to the chicken soup, the ladle was carefully skimmed over the surface and the resulting fluid was deemed vegetarian as the chicken pieces were at the bottom! I know any true veggie would probably be horrified but I thought it was funny, and it tasted lovely!

So on to the diving. Well what can I say…it was the Red Sea and it was lovely. Some people saw dolphins and turtles but sadly I didn’t (I’m still blaming Dev’s regs for this)! We mainly did wreck dives but then the wind picked up and we weren’t able to get down to the Brothers. We had to stay on Panorama Reef for a few dives, which was a lovely reef but we were all a bit disappointed not be moving further south.

I’d kindly been lent a great underwater camera by the lovely people at Ocean Leisure. When Alex picked it up for me before the trip he had been given strict instructions on how to use it. Unfortunately he only remembered half way through the week to mention the one button I had to push to set my white balance. My photos drastically improved after that and I had a lot of fun remembering what I’d been taught on my underwater photography course five years ago.

Take a look at the group’s photos from the trip here

There are a couple of dives that I remember very well. The first one was a night dive with Dev. It was about 10 metres deep and there was a lot of life on the boat. Everybody with a torch got followed by Common Lion fish. They use the torch beam to show them where their next meal is. Now I don’t mind this, but they really have no sense of personal space at all and it’s quite eerie at night so Dev and I got very freaked out by how close they were to us. Even when we covered our torch beams they stayed with us like faithful dogs with their masters.  It was quite unnerving how large they were and we spent quite a lot of the dive trying to get away from them. It was soon time to think about getting back to the boat and that’s when we realised we both thought the other person was leading. Whoops! We had totally lost the group and in the end we decided to send up an SMB and get picked up by the zodiac. Not our finest navigational work but on the plus side we had a lovely view of the stars on the way back!

The other memorable dive was the Fancy Dress dive. We did this on the last dive of the holiday. The theme was the alphabet as there were 26 of us, so we had one letter each. Some people had been very secretive about their costumes and when we finally saw them arrive on the dive deck we knew why, they were hilarious! We had a cheerleader, a quack, a zebra, a hippy and a pirate to name a few. I went as Venus and Alex went as King Kong. He did the whole dive in a gorilla mask! The two stand out costumes belonged to Carl and Chantal. Chantal came as a banana and it was the funniest thing to watch her swimming underwater with bubbles coming out the top of the banana!

Chantal goes bananas!

Chantal goes bananas!

Carl came as an Ostrich and there are really no words to describe how funny it was. It looked like Carl was riding the Ostrich, and the Ostrich even had its own mask. Carl’s fake legs were floating above his head! See for yourself in the following video:

Carl’s Ostrich Dive!

We spent the evenings relaxing in the Sky Lounge. There had been a lot of time spent before the trip planning which science fiction films we were going to watch (yes we are geeks).  Sadly it didn’t work out as we’d forgotten one remote control and we needed just one cable (that’s the extent of my technical knowledge) to play the films. I’m not sure Steve B is ever going to get over being defeated by technology!

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With no films to watch we did lots of sleeping, reading, playing cards and sunbathing! It was one of those holidays that you just relax instantly. It was a great break and despite the wind at the end everybody had a great time.

We spent the last night out in Hurghada and it was the usual debauchery. We played the Pyramid of Death (Steve and Chris’s favourite drinking game) and Fives (that was the drinking game we lost Alex to).  We were then treated to an awesome live rock band in the pub and that’s when I carefully replaced Alex’s bottle of beer in his hand with water, in a very Derren Brown stealth-like manner! He thanked me for it in the morning. Scott and Steve B then risked their lives by being pinged skyward in a contraption held together with gaffa tape (which we only realised after seeing the following photo).

You wouldn't get me in that!

You wouldn’t get me in that!

 

Luckily they lived and then the last few standing were ushered into a club by Dean, where somehow he’d managed to wangle free entry for us all. I think that’s where a few of us called it a night and ran the usual taxi gauntlet back to the hotel. I believe a few hardy individuals managed to stay out till the very early hours!

The next day was spent recovering from our hangovers. On the flight home I was reacquainted with the game Temple Run (thanks James) and have been addicted ever since.

I really enjoyed this trip but was a little disappointed that I didn’t see any sharks. To remedy this, we’ve booked another week in August which is the prime season both for the weather and for the sharks, so hopefully we’re going to see Oceanic Whitetips and maybe even Hammerheads! It would be amazing to fill the boat again so if you fancy coming along then check out the details below. And for those film buffs among you, Steve B has already booked onto this trip, and I bet he’s already packed that missing cable!

Click here for Red Sea Trip August 2013 information

Thanks to everyone for making it an awesome trip!

Spot the regulator!

DLL trips for 2013!

First of all, sorry for the radio silence on the DLL blog over the last few weeks. Since Christmas when we thought we’d be quiet we’ve ended up juggling tec centre stuff, a potential Course Director application, a full Red Sea trip and the joy of being without a van. Somehow we’re in March which is slightly scary although not as scary as the fact that it is still snowing outside. Given that the UK seems to have decided to plunge itself into a permanent winter (I always enjoy keeping an eye out for articles written by Jeremy Clarkson style dullards about how one cold winter in London makes a nonsense of decades of global scientific data on global warming) it seemed like the right time to finally get a handle on two of our upcoming trips:

 

MALTA MAY 1-6

 

First up on the overseas trips is our traditional yearly trip to Malta fondly know as Maltfest! Malta is an absolutely fantastic diving destination and less than 3 hours from the UK. It has incredibly clear and blue water and a real variety of dive sites from shallow reefs and beautiful archways to amazing wrecks and caves. The diving in Malta is accessible to all levels of diver from newly qualified open water divers all the way to avid teccies. Add to that the joys of Huggins pub and Avenue for food and you’re set for a great fun, great value long weekend!

 

The cost of this trip is £189 for 7 dives. There are a range of accommodation of options for all budgets.

 

Divers on the wreck of the p31 at Comino

Divers on the wreck of the p31 at Comino

 

Huggins

Post match analysis at Huggins pub

CROATIA TEC TRIP MAY 22-27

 

The next trip is Croatia following on from the incredibly successful trip we ran last year. Croatia is an amazing tec divers dream. There are hundreds of beautiful pristine wrecks in the 40-60m mark, all incredibly well preserved. The sea conditions are perfect, warm, great viz and very few currents for those longer hangs! On top of that Croatia is still very good value and can be reached from a number of different airports.

 

We were very lucky last year to discover a brilliant little tec diving centre in a tiny village called krnica. This year we’re returning to really see the benefit of doing some extended tec dives on wrecks like the Vis and the Lina. This is going to be DLLs first ‘official’ tec trip and as such we’re starting as we mean to go on. That means group dive planning sessions and discussions to help you dive confidently and relax and enjoy all the dives as much as possible.

 

This is also the first part of  ‘Project Apsyrtus’ a 3 year plan to explore the wrecks of the Kvaner bay region culminating in the exploration of some unknown wrecks in the area. As such each step of the way we’ll be increasing the depth and experience of the team. This particular trip is aimed at the tec45 and 50 level so any divers with a tec 40 or entry level qualification can look to come along and carry on their tec journey.

 

The cost of this trip will be 420 euros for all diving and accommodation.

 

the Lina

The impressive bow of the Lina before she slopes away to 50m

Krnica

The view from the dive centre

 

DLL vs Krnica

DLL takes on Krnica. Mike Coopey is still a local legend.

 

So there we go, two brilliant trips coming up soon. Please drop us a line if you have any questions or if you’d like to join us!

 

 

Scapa Flow Trip Report 2012

The recent DLL trip to Scapa Flow was 3 years in the making (for me at least). In August of 2009 I was a newly qualified Advanced Open Water diver, with no UK diving experience other than Wrasybury, Vobster and a drinking weekend down in Weymouth. I was still very much on the fence about UK diving (cold water and not-so-good viz?!?!).  I signed up to the 2009 DLL Scapa trip with zero expectations, and a high degree of trepidation at spending a week of diving in the middle of nowhere, with 11 other people, most of whom I had never met.

Divers eating

Divers from our Scapa Flow 2009 trip

That trip was a watershed moment. I returned to London after the week in Scapa certain of the following:

  1. UK diving is awesome, if Scapa was anything to go by.
  2. I wanted to do Technical diving – I had never heard of technical diving before the trip, but spent the trip wishing I could be like Andris and Matt (newly qualified ART-ers at the time) with all their dive planning geeking, getting into the water before the rest of us, getting out after the rest of us.
  3. The DLL bunch was tres cool – Those from the 2009 trip are firm friends and I am now a fully qualified fixture at DLL trips and events.
  4. I needed to buy a drysuit – At this point the only dive kit I owned was a mask and a Suunto Gekko I bought especially for the trip.  I rented a drysuit. I used 3 on the trip. They all leaked on me.

Fast forward to 2012, I’ve since qualified to Normoxic (open circuit), and recently took the plunge into rebreather (closed circuit) territory. And I now have all the accompanying kit – including a drysuit! I had been nagging Alex for a Scapa trip in the subsequent years. I was chomping at the bit to revisit Scapa.

Diver in a rebreather

3 years on and Aileen’s now diving with a rebreather!

Scapa Flow is one of those unique diving sites where the forces of nature and man have coalesced resulting in what is a truly remarkable dive location. Scapa Flow is a body of water in the Orkney Islands that is naturally sheltered by surrounding islands, and it has a sandy bottom and average depth of around 30 metres. Its natural features make it one of the great natural harbours/anchorages of the world and it is best known as the site of UK’s chief naval base in World Wars I and II. For the diving obsessed, this means wrecks! Lots of them! In great diving conditions (by UK standards) – great viz and little or no current! The cream of the Scapa crop is a fleet of WWI German Warships scuttled at the end of the war.

We started our long journey to Scapa one Friday morning and finally arrived in Stromness on Saturday afternoon, following a drive up the length of the UK, an overnight stop in random Pithlochry, and a ferry ride from Thurso. If there’s one downside to Scapa, it is its distance from civilisation. Though having said that, this could be considered a good thing – it filters out the unwilling and therefore unworthy!

Scapa Flow Landscape

View of Scapa Flow from MV Invincible
Photo by Jakub Czeczótka

As a boat of 12 technical divers, we spent the rest of Saturday afternoon in pfaffing bliss, setting up kit all ready for the following morning and the start of the main event – diving!

So did the diving live up to expectations? Hell yeah. From the first dive of the trip, the Coln, a WWI German Cruiser, I was again amazed. The amount of sealife on the wreck was astounding. You could not see the wreck for the fish. Being on a rebreather, I had many a near-miss collision with the odd distracted fish. The wreck was blanketed in soft coral. The 115 metres length of the wreck offered many a swimthrough, lots of crevices and places to explore. At a modest maximum depth of 35 metres, we all got some good bottom time in. An hour and a half later and back on the boat, we were all giddy – and that was our checkout dive!!

Each day we had a new favourite best dive of the trip. On Monday it was Kronprinz Wilhelm, one of 3 WWI German Battleships in Scapa. At 45 metres depth, and 145 metres length, she was deeper, darker and more foreboding. But oh what a set of guns! By Tuesday, the best dive of the trip was the mighty Markgraf, another battleship, sister to the Kronprinz. The Markgraf lies almost completely upturned but it is quite well preserved. Swimming along its hull heading towards the rudders, I marvelled at the scale of the wreck. It kept going and going and going. On Wednesday it was the Karlsruhe, largely broken up, a jumble of nooks and crannies to explore. On Thursday it was the Dresden, another light cruiser. Descend down the shotline onto a massive gun! The wreck had swimthroughs and penetrations galore, and swathes of soft coral blanketing the wreck. On Friday, our last day of diving, Ian let us pick two of our favourites to dive again – we were spoilt for choice but went with the Coln and the Dresden, the perfect way to cap 6 days of the best of UK diving. Making our ascent from the Coln we were even visited by a juvenile seal out for a snack!

MV Invincible was our home for the week, and Ian and Fiona our hosts. Once we got used to bumping our heads in the cramped quarters, we came to appreciate it for what is was – a great diving operation. Ian ran the boat with a deft hand – providing fills when we needed them, with whatever mix we wanted, happily accommodating both open and closed circuit divers. Fiona kept us nourished – pre-breakfast in the morning before the first dive, a full fry-up breakfast after every morning dive, and a cup of warming homemade soup after the second dive of the day. The boat itself had a large kitting up area, dive lift, drying room, a kitchen and dining area, and 2 bathrooms on deck. Below deck were the 6 cabins, and a lounge equipped with an honesty bar and television/DVD player.

We headed out to Scapa Flow from Stromness Harbour every morning around 8 am, were in the water for Dive 1 by 9am, fed and ready for a snooze by 11:30 am, in the water for Dive 2 by 1 pm, and usually out, all showered and back at port by 3 pm.

Stromness is a quiet little village. We had explored ALL of it by Sunday afternoon.  Our venue for pints and an Olympics catch-up was the Ferry Inn. There is a grocer/baker and Coop in town where we picked up supplies for the lovely dinners we made on the boat (V’s bolognaise, and Kristine’s beef stroganoff).  We managed to find a restaurant (yes one) – the Hamnavoe, which served great seafood, and was the venue for our last supper in Stromness. Stromness also has Scapa Scuba, a very well equipped and friendly dive shop/school. We dropped by the shop most afternoons for the odd bit or bob, and because admit it, we all like looking at shiny new kit.

Outside of Stronmess, we ventured over to Kirkwall to check out the Italian Chapel (a chapel built by Italian prisoners of war in WWII), the Orkney wine company (which does not really make wine – it makes specialty liquors from Orkney sourced ingredients), and a few of the group managed to check out the Highland distillery. Kirkwall was also where we went for our curry night of the week. Mostly we spent our evenings chilling, drinking on deck enjoying the stillness of the evenings and serenity of the bay, chatting about the great diving and rare mishap – only 1 really, a certain someone, let’s call him “Zippy C”, forgot to zip up his dry suit before jumping in.

The week zoomed by. Before we knew it we were packing up and getting ready for the journey back down to London. We had lived in a wonderful diving bubble for a week, far away from the bustle of civilisation. I returned back to London, where mullets have not been seen for 20 years, the land of traffic, and crowds, and Wifi, and my reality. The DLL Scapa Flow week had again been a winner – great diving, great company, and fun times. Having now done the trip twice, would I go back? Unequivocal answer is yes. Next time I bring a scooter!

By Aileen Small

And then there was Croatia

A little bay where we spent our surface interval

This was DLL’s first diving trip to Croatia and we headed out there to explore the waters with 11 divers.

We started with a horribly early morning start at Stansted airport. We had all just about managed to find our way through the maze which is the Ryanair website in order to book our flights. No thank you, we don’t want car insurance, travel insurance, priority boarding (well Tim might)….we just want to simply book a flight and print our boarding passes…oh, and a bit of good customer service would have been nice, but you can’t have everything!

As we queued up for the flight we counted our numbers, counted again, and realised that two people were missing – Adam & James! Once we’d landed we realised that they hadn’t made the flight at all. We all had a lot of fun coming up with theories as to why they hadn’t arrived (gimp mask anyone)? But it turns out it was a very innocent reason…Adam had enjoyed a few too many pints watching the England Euro 2012 game the night before and had slept through his alarm.

Rather than miss the whole holiday, they caught a flight to Venice and then arrived in the early hours, so they only missed one dive. Impressive work!

Our apartments and pool

We settled into our apartments and quickly enjoyed lounging by the pool with a beer. We met Maurizio, the dive centre owner. He’s a bit like Shrek in stature and friendliness. He took us all under his wing and showed us what Croatia had to offer, both underwater and on land.

Krnica Dive Centre

The Krnica dive centre was great and we were boat diving everyday. The water was crystal clear and blue, just like the Red Sea. We had a lot of fun between dives swimming around the boat and diving off the top. We discovered the Dean is a true water baby and likes to be in the water at every given opportunity.

So a bit about the diving. Well, for starters it was my first time diving in the sea for a very long time. I won’t bore you with the details but my ears have been giving me trouble, but I thought Croatia was the time to jump back in. And I’m so glad I did. The wreck called the Lina was incredible and really reminded me of the wrecks at Scapa Flow. It was quite deep, 27 metres to the top of the wreck, and so we couldn’t spend too long down there, but we were able to do a bit of penetration. It was sitting upright and had sunk because it had crashed into the reef, as such, once we’d reached our no decompression limit we were able to swim over to the reef and make our ascent on that.

It turns out that where we were in Croatia is probably more suited to tec divers as the wrecks are all pretty deep. So we spent the rest of our time diving on reefs. These were still interesting as there was some swim-throughs and caves to discover. On one dive, we all meet up in a cavern which you could surface in so we had a quick photo!

So a bit about where we were staying. The village has a population of 250 people. The main high street consists of two bars – interestingly the one playing dirgy music was favoured by the younger generations and the other one with the disco ball and UV lighting was full of old men! There’s a bakery where we bought chocolate croissants (or rather liquid chocolate with a hint of croissant) for breakfast and ate it at the bar restaurant with a cup of coffee. We’d then be picked up by Maurizio to drive to the boat. It was a lovely way to start each day.

The village square

We were lucky enough to be there for the Croatia Euro 2012 match and so we headed to the bar to support the locals. Unfortunately they lost but that didn’t stop them from partying hard. We staggered home, some more than others, at 2 am and the party was still in full swing. I won’t say too much about the evening to save red faces, but basically a lot of beer was consumed, an accordian played, a table danced upon, croatia shirts worn and a drum set played in the street (at 2 am)! I think we can safely say that the locals will remember DLL when we return. But luckily in a good way…as the next morning they said how much they’d enjoyed our company…and Mike had become their local hero!

Celebrating Euro 2012

The next day, Alex and David joined Maurizio for a tec dive on the Vis wreck. They went to 55 metres and said the wreck was in pristine condition. They’re really looking forward to going back and we think this location will be great for tec qualifying dives and gaining more experience.

Back on land, Maurizio organised a group meal out at an Agriturismo. We fed like kings on a four course feast which started with a grappa shot (seems to be the Croatian way)! We drank lots of wine and this was all for the sum of about £20 each! We’ll definitely be heading back there on our next trip.

We all had a great time and I don’t think anyone wanted to leave. To sum the trip up I’d say it was great company, good diving, good food, brilliant weather and lovely locals. As I’ve already mentioned, we think this particular part of Croatia is probably more of a tec destination and Krnica dive centre is brilliant for that. They have 25 twinsets! You just wouldn’t expect to find that in such a rural location. We will be on the hunt for another Croatian dive centre more set up for recreational diving…so watch this space for future trips!

Maurizio

Wreck of the day 03 – The SMS Brummer

SMS Brummer

Displacement: 4385t (design) and 4316t (loaded)

Length: 140.4m (460’)

Beam: 13.2m (43’)

Draft: 6m (19’)

Propulsion: 2 shaft steam turbines, 6 boilers, 33,000shp

Speed: 28kn (52km/h)

Range: 10700km (6700miles)

Complement: 16 officers, 293 enlisted

Armament: 4 × 15 cm SK L/45 guns
2 × 8.8 cm (3.5 in) L/45 AA guns
2 × 50 cm (20 in) torpedo tubes
400 mines

 

A brief history:

An extremely quick build, she was launched on 11th December 1915 and commissioned on 2nd April 1916. She was a remarkable ship with an impressive top speed of 52km/h but despite carrying 400 mines she was not employed on mine laying duty.

However minelayers by their nature were not designed for defensive purposes and their modus operandi would be to steam into an area, lay their mines and use their light weight and high speed to make an escape.

An interesting thing about the SMS Brummer and the SMS Bremse was that they slightly resembled British warships of the aurora class which was a contributing factor in a successful raid they made on a British supply convoy to Norway in which 2 destroyers were sunk along with 12 merchant ships of which the British ships were escorting. This coupled with their high speed meant that the convoy were sitting ducks and the resulting massacre was proof of this – there were very few survivors.

The success of this operation (which was celebrated with champagne by Kaiser Wilhelm II) the German heads of Navy got excited and lined up the deadly duo for further operations in the Atlantic. However the Americans entering the war and the logistical difficulties of refuelling at sea meant the operation was cancelled.

 

Diving the SMS Brummer:

Laying on her starboard side with her bow at 32m and the stern at 33m and the top of the hull at 21m this wreck is a firm favourite amongst Scapa junkies.

Although luckily not raised for scrapping she was subjected to heavy salvage work around the engine rooms and boilers etc. The stern is in pretty bad condition but if you focus your attention further forward this is a brilliant dive!

Worth having a look at are the gun turrets which are cool because they are not covered which means you can have a peek inside and inspect the mechanisms and controls.

There is also a cool hole where the funnel used to be but unfortunately don’t go getting ideas about swimming your way through to the engine rooms as there are grates which protected against shells.

If poking your way around machinery is your idea of fun then head to where the salvage work has taken place as it is all exposed and you can check out all the complicated nuts and bolts etc. your heart could lust for.

A nice feature is the armoured conning tower where the well paid officers would hide and control the ship during battles and the slit windows in the front are reminiscent of a fortified castle.

There is a deck gun in front of this and if you have time make your way forward and check out the anchor capstans. Those appropriately trained can make penetration dives between decks and those qualified to use nitrox and/or do some cheeky deco will really get the most from this dive.

Wreck of the day 03 – SMS Dresden II

Name: SMS Dresden II

Launched: 25th April 1917

Commissioned: 28th March 1918

Co-ordinates: 58°52.98N; 03°18.37W

Displacement: 5620t (7486t loaded)

Length: 155.5m (510’)

Beam: 14.2m (47’)

Draft: 6.01m (19.7’)

Propulsion: 31,000 shp, 2 shafts

Speed: 27.5 knots (50.9 km/h)

Range: 10,000km at 12 knots

Complement: 17 officers, 542 enlisted men

Armament: 8 × 15 cm SK L/45 guns, 3 × 8.8 cm (3.5 in) L/45 AA guns, 4 × 60 cm (24 in) torpedo tubes, 200 mines

 

Brief History:

Sister ship to the Köln (also on the bottom of Scapa flow and discussed in a previous blog) and built to replace the Dresden I which was sunk off Chile in 1915. The SMS Dresden II was longer and more heavily armed than her predecessor and was considered one of the best in her class within the fleet.

She was attached to II scouting group which was sent on a mission to locate and destroy a British convoy en route to Norway. However, as the British convoy had sailed the day before it was not located and the German mission was called off.

In October 1918 she was assigned a mission along with the Köln and others to attack the British navy in the Thames estuary as a final stand in the final days of the war.  This was a last ditch attempt to secure Germany a better bargaining position no matter the cost to the German fleet. However several of the ships’ crews mutinied and the attack was cancelled.

The unruly crew of the Markgraf apparently pointed one their guns at the Dresden and refused to move out of her way after she was order to Eckernförde but eventually backed down allowing her to sail.

Once the order came to scuttle the ships in Scapa Flow, the Dresden II capsized violently to port and sunk dramatically.

Diving the SMS Dresden II

A good wreck for all abilities as it lays on a sloping seabed. The bow faces north and rests at 25m while moving aft will take you deeper to a maximum of around 37m. The wreck lays on it’s port side and has many interesting features.

Relatively unscathed from the salvaging that many of Scapa’s wrecks were subjected to the Dresden is in good condition. Pay good attention to the engine rooms which although have suffered blast damage from salvagers are still full of machinery and are definitely worth a poke around.

The officers’ quarters are fascinating and those with a keen eye may find a bathtub! Although the bronze propellers themselves would have been salvaged it is possible to see 2 propeller shafts in place with a single rudder. The stern is still intact itself and is a magnificent shape.

Notice the rear guns are still in place and facing ever so slightly towards starboard and also note how the forward of the rear guns is raised so to fire above the aft gun.

This is a nice dive to complement the Köln as they are sister ships and you can compare how both have fared to 93 years underwater! A particularly cool feature however of the Dresden II is the crest just aft of the bow which only the lead ship of a given class would carry.