Prima Sub Aqua Plymouth Wreck Reviews

 

ō  Wreck penetration should only be attempted if you are suitably trained.

ō  A delayed SMB should be considered mandatory equipment on all sea dives.

ō  Wreck diving can be engrossing, donít forget your training & keep an eye on your air.

ō  Please only take pictures & leave the dive sites as you found them so that others that follow may also appreciate their beauty.

 

HMS Abelard

Oregan

Elk

Persier

Glen Strath Allan

SS Rosehill

James Eagan Lane

HMS Scylla

Le Poulmic

Totnes Castle

 

 

HMS Abelard

 

After hitting a mine on Christmas Eve 1916, this old steam trawler which had been converted into a mine sweeper now sits at 13m on a sandy bottom. The wreck is quite broken up but not widely scattered.

With care you can penetrate the boiler that stands about 3m high for about 1m but is quite confined & usually occupied by a few Wrasse. Behind the boiler sits the remains of the engine room and the huge iron propeller almost buried in the sand.

The whole site is scattered with objects: the remains of winches, broken derricks, bollards, large deck cleats & the ribs.

Around the wreck you may well spot Sponges, Lobsters, large Spider Crabs, Cuttlefish, Dogfish, various Wrasse and Pollack.

 Due to its depth there is plenty of time to explore all the nooks and crannies.

 

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Elk

The Elk was a trawler come minesweepers requisitioned by The British Navy, she sank after hitting a mine in 1940. A small & compact wreck just 36m long with the deck at 30m, max depth is 36m on the bow. She sits upright on a sandy bottom & can easily be circumnavigated.  Viz: Worst 0m, best 12m.

Donít forget your Delayed SMB. Penetration is limited but there is plenty of life on this little wreck where Congers still lurk in the remains. Pollack and Pouting and plenty of Gorgonia. Its bows have a dense mass of red Dead Menís Fingers.  A good little wreck worthy of your time.

 

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Glen Strath Allan

 

The sinking of the Glen Strath Allen was deliberate, sunk to honour the wishes of her dead owner.  Built in 1928, a pleasure yacht of 690 tonnes & 50m in length

 Lent to the Navy during the 2nd world war as an escort vessel and was then later converted into a floating training school ship & donated to the merchant navy as per the wishes of her late owner.  In 1970 she was given to Fort Bovisand who sunk her as an underwater training facility.  Later she was declared a hazard to shipping & was dispersed.  The wreck now lies at 15m on a sandy bottom strewn with large rocky outcrops. The bow section is still recognisable, trace the ribs back towards the rear cabins. Near the cabins lies the main boiler, standing proud some 6m above the sand. Strewn all around this area are parts of the companionways, the rudder, and a section of decking still with its planking and large deck pulleys.

Around the remains roam some friendly wrasse, lobsters lurk beneath the plates & keep an eye for the resident Conger together with Dogfish, Boring Sponges, Spider Crabs, Pollack and Cuttlefish.

Overall the Glen Strath Allen provides some very good diving. The visibility is usually 5-6m, and currents present no problems. Donít wait too long to dive on this one.

 

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James Eagan Lane


One of most popular classic wreck dives in Europe, the James Egan Layne is a 120m US Liberty ship & was torpedoed by U-1195 on 21st March 1945. Her sinking left us a beautiful historic site & a must for all divers.  Depth from 6m to 24m max, visibility can be from 1 Ė 20m depending on conditions. The JEL sits upright shaped like a canoe as her decks have fallen through. On a flat sandy seabed lying North to South with her bows facing North, 6-9m deep to the bow & 16m over the main deck. She makes a fantastic dive, with loads to see and if you get to the stern, head South West for 10m to find the broken off Stern section. She is permanently buoyed with a chain at the bow. Diveable at any state of the tide but currents can sometimes be enough to pull you away from the ship if you do free ascents or descents. A delayed SMB is must for this dive.

Penetration is not really possible since the majority of the decking plates have fallen through. However, swimming through the old ribs of the ship on a summerís day is an unforgettable sight.

There are Anemones and Soft Corals. Fish life is abundant with Wrasse, Poor Cod, Gobies, Pollack, Bib, Tompot Blennies, Lobsters, Starfish, Crabs, Dead Men's Fingers and even the occasional Sun Fish, Basking Shark and shoals of Sea Bass, Congers & a John Dory if youíre lucky. 

There are a large number of the endangered Pink Sea Fans, please be very careful when swimming anywhere near them.

On the starboard side, the old drum wheels will keep the photographers happy.

 

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Le Poulmic


Le Poulmic was an old French trawler that was requisitioned by the Brits during the 2nd world war in July 1940, 25m long & 300 tonnes, she now lies in 22m of water. She was put to work as a minesweeper and a mere 3 months later carelessly hit a mine off Penlee point. She sank quickly after the violent explosion leaving her remains scattered over a wide area.

Still a very pretty & interesting dive.  The wreck is now well broken, a few ribs are left and parts of the wooden hull.  The main body of the wreck, which seems to be part of the engine room, stands about 5m high on a very rocky bottom.  What appears to be a deck winch and pieces of broken mast, stanchions, derricks, rope blocks and plenty of anchor chain lies all around.

The whole area is littered with what appear to be anti aircraft shells. This is all still Ďliveí ammunition and pretty deteriorated. so caution is required and on no account should any shells be tampered with.

However, this site is far from dead, as the wreck offers lots of nooks and crannies for fish to play in and can also attract some larger shoals of fish, Pouting, Wrasse, some very large Whiting. The rocky ledges provide a good home for sea urchins and plenty of cover for small Dogfish. There is also an abundance of large purple Starfish.   If you still have time explore the deep gullies around the wreck.

 

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Oregan


The Oregon was an 800 ton steel hulled sailing barque not unlike the Cutty Sark. After striking a reef by Thurlestone she sank in 34m of water in 1890. She is spread over the seabed with just 2-3m up at the bows and stern. As the wreckage is well laid out there are lots to see:  a large anchor and behind it is an old style anchor winch. Along the collapsed starboard side are the remains of the Oregon's masts. There is a cylindrical tank, a winch and plenty of plates. The stern has an impressive rudder half submerged in the seabed while the steering gear is still attached to the rudder post. The wreck has pouting that swim all around you as you explore the wreck.

 

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Persier


Another must for all divers & one of the best dives in South Devon. The Persier, now lying upright at around 28m on a sandy bottom was a Standard B class vessel of 5,030 tons built in 1919 & took part in the Dunkirk evacuations in 1940.  She was nearly sunk twice: bombed in Oban & ran aground in Iceland. In 1945 whilst on convey duties at Eddystone right in the middle of the U boatís favourite killing ground she was torpedoed. Chaos ensued, including the loss of most of the crew, who were killed when the lifeboats they were in were chopped to pieces by the Persierís own propellers. Due to mechanical malfunction the engines continued to run & she finally found her resting place at Bigbury Bay.

The huge bows section stretches up & as you swim over it you see large expanses of steel decking. Further on you come to two massive boilers. 15 feet below you is another deck level with an assortment of interesting holes to explore. Whilst the large wreck is broken up, there are many interesting features including the prop

shaft tunnel, rudder, spare prop, anchors and loads of big winches & large areas of twisted and jumbled girders 

The whole site is widely populated by fish. The wreck is absolutely teeming with them, and they all seem to be bigger than anywhere else.  It's a very impressive & popular wreck, but it needs several dives to appreciate it fully.  

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 SS Rosehill

The SS Rosehill formally known as the Minster was an armed steam ship of some 2788 tonnes & over 100m long. It was torpedoed by U40 without warning on the 23rd of September 1917. Lying in about 29m the wreck is upside down and does not stand very proud of the seabed. A reef that runs alongside is often mistaken for the wreck. The only thing standing proud is the boilers, which come to 24m.
 You can easily see the anchor plus part of a mast. The stern section is well defined and is home for a quite impressive gun. The steering gear, rudder and part of her propeller are clearly seen. The Rosehill abounds with fish: Cod, Bass, Pollack, Wrasse, large Conger and many others. The shoals of fish swirling around the boilers are a splendid sight to watch. The plates are covered with fan coral that wave gently in the currents that flow along the wreck. The wreck has a fine sediment that is easily stirred up which can lower the visibility dramatically. In any case visibility can often be quite poor on this wreck. Nevertheless, this is a very good dive.

 

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HMS Scylla


Britain's newest artificial reef is a perfect training site. Sitting upright, Scylla was a 113m Leander Class Frigate & was sunk back in 2004 and lies in a maximum depth of 26m, with the first deck being at about 18m. Visibility can be anything between 1 to 20m+. Scylla is permanently buoyed with three chain lines (bow, midships & stern) and has no tidal restrictions but currents can sometimes be enough to pull you away from the ship if you do free ascents or descents.

Penetration should only be attempted if you are suitably trained. Some areas of Scylla are too narrow for 2 divers to swim side by side. Do not proceed into any area that you don't think 2 of you can get out of together unless you have and are experienced in using 2m regulator hoses. Thereís a dive for every level on the Scylla & itís easy to get engrossed so donít forget to CHECK YOUR AIR & remember the rule of thirds if you're inside.

This is a Marine Sanctuary. Do not take souvenirs of any kind.

The marine habitat is expanding nicely & now Bib, Pollack Red Mullet, a John Dory, Squid, Cuttlefish, Jelly fish, Anemones, Crabs, sea Squirts, Starfish, Wrasse, Cod, Dogfish, Gobies, Congers, Dead Men's Fingers and Tube Worms can all be seen if you are lucky & take your time.

 

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Totnes Castle


A 91 ton Paddle Steamer built in 1923 was 33m long & now sits at 44m.

At the end of 1963 when she was converted into a restaurant. In 1964, while she was being towed from Dartmouth to Plymouth she sank in Bigbury Bay. The wreck now rests upright 3m proud of the seabed with her bow still in reasonable condition, her stern section broken down to seabed level. Her steel hull is intact but the decking has gone allowing easy access to all areas of the ship. The superstructure and top-works are missing, but her engine pistons can be clearly seen in front of the single boiler. The bows are in good condition and the forward hold can be easily entered. The stern is more broken up and in some places lies nearly parallel with the sea bed.

A great dive with usually good visibility and plenty of fish life including Cod & some friendly Congers. The small size of the wreck means that divers have sufficient bottom time to swim around.  

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Wreck reviews by Paul Waddell  (B.S.A.C. Advanced Diver)


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