On a breezy Saturday morning, Scimitar Diving cast off lines from Portland Harbour bound for HMS M2. The trip out was a little lumpy but nothing too horrendous, with a solid force four wind, gusting five. Seas were forecast as 1m. Admittedly the seas would always be calmer on the western side of the beach due to the easterlies.
As we closed with the site, people started to get ready, mentally preparing for the dive ahead.
This diver (me that is!) always tries to be first into the water to ensure a long dive without causing any delay to others so, this time was no exception. Standing by the door waiting for the call “rebreather guy go”. Splash.
The green water enveloped in a cooling embrace. As I bobbed back up, it was an “OK” sign to the skipper and a quick glance for the shot line. When attached to the line, I snapped on the lower bolt of my bailout, lifted my deflate hose, vented the loop and down I went.
Lots of suspended particles in the green on the descent slowly, but eerily led to a faint shadow forming. The anticipation grew, my heart leapt into my throat. “Could it be, is the visibility that good today?” As the dark shape of the tower emerged from the gloom visibility was that good. 4-5m with plenty of ambient light even at 30m. The current was still gently setting to the south-east so although it wasn’t strong I was being pushed into the wreck, having to crab a little to avoid scraping my right shoulder.
Coming forward to the bow and seeing the anchor, that blunt, almost antique stem brought home how this mighty and highly innovative warship should be cutting through the waves above, not resting forever on the seabed, a testament to man’s folly and fallibility perhaps? Progressing around the wreck, a huge conger head reflected bright blue in the light of his torch on the starboard anchor. Moving on towards the aft, the hydroplanes showing a desperate will to surface as the last order given. A sad testament to man’s survival instinct and lack of ability to control its destiny.
Even further aft, perhaps just aft of midships, there was a gap in the outer shell plating and upon shining a light inside, a blue shelled lobster decided it was a little too bright and shimmied away as fast as his little legs could go. Throughout the dive, I was surprised by the sheer number of fish coalescing around this accidental tomb, making of it, a ghostly home.
Later on, as the bottom segment was drawing to a close, staying around the conning tower before my ascent, a look around the deck machinery proved interesting once again. An enormous conger tail poking through several frames while the head remained unseen though presumably rather large.
It was at this stage that I turned my light off and simply took a moment to enjoy the sight of all those fish, making a home of the dead, sealed in their steel coffin as they bathe in the green sunlight filtering through the waves above.
At 45 minutes it was time to head up. The onboard computer was saying I had 10 minutes of decompression at 6m so up went the bag. The bolt snap stayed with me at the bottom this time!
As I drifted off the wreck into the current for a long ascent, the gloomy shadow of the wreck left, the void filled with a green snow. A perfunctory stop for one minute at 12m reduced deco to 9 minutes. A second stop at 9m for another three minutes maintained the memorised worst-case deco profile of 3m deeper and 3 minutes longer while the main stop at 6m was a bit tedious despite the wave movement.
It was clear that there was a swell ‘upstairs’ as the computer read 5.6 – 6.3m constantly. On average though it was a satisfactory 6m stop. As the deco ticked down to zero, a move to 3m was made and a safety stop was performed before surfacing. As instructed by Nick (an excellent skipper with a friendly and outgoing character) the SMB was held aloft above my head before being passed up to him. The familiar whirring of the lift back onto the deck was serene, but once on deck, the feeling of an enjoyable dive whilst knowing the ascent was smooth ensured that a sensation of contentment flooded over him as he sat on the bench in the sunshine.
- ARBUTHNOT, Crofton K, Lieutenant Commander
- BACK, Leonard S, Electrical Artificer 3c, D/M 37056
- BANKS, Sydney W, Petty Officer, C/J 48971
- BLAKE, Frederick J, Petty Officer, P/J 46983
- BROWN, Dougal Mc P, Leading Steward, C/L 12605
- BURRIDGE, Jack, Leading Telegraphist, P/J 60943
- BUTCHER, Harold F, Able Seaman, C/J 91916
- CHAPMAN, Cecil, Able Seaman, C/JX 126505
- CLARKE, Allan, Petty Officer, D/J 43273
- COLESHILL, Charles J, Able Seaman, P/J 102918
- DRUMMOND, James, Stoker 1c, P/K 62886
- EDWARDS, John H, Able Seaman, D/J 106978
- ELLIS, Stanley G, Petty Officer Telegraphist, P/J 29040
- ENGLAND, George, Able Seaman, C/J 58560
- ESTCOURT, George, Act/Stoker Petty Officer, C/K 65495
- FERGUSON, Douglas, Stoker 1c, P/KX 79049
- GREGORY, Leslie, Leading Aircraftsman, RAF, 364018
- HARDY, Charles P, Engine Room Artificer 1c, P/M 31105
- HARMAN, Frank J, Leading Aircraftsman, RAF, 364868
- HAYES, William A, Warrant Engineer
- HEAD, Hamilton C W, Lieutenant
- HORN, Stanley C A, Engine Room Artificer 1c, D/M 21453
- JACKSON, Edward V, Engine Room Artificer 4c, C/M 39396
- JACOBS, Albert E, Leading Seaman, C/J 96297
- JARRETT, Sidney R W, Able Seaman, C/J 100140
- KING, James, Act/Chief Petty Officer, C/J 18133
- LAKIN, John W, Leading Stoker, P/K 59059
- LEATHES, John D De M, Lieutenant Commander
- LEAVY, Frederick W, Signalman, D/J 94973
- LEWIS, John W J, Stoker 1c, D/K 63662
- MACDONALD, Louis P, Stoker Petty Officer, P/K 16558
- MACDONALD, Somerled, Lieutenant
- MATTHEWS, Edward, Stoker 1c, P/K 64672
- MORRIS, Thomas, Able Seaman, C/J 96156
- O’DWYER, Albert A E, Able Seaman, C/J 102310
- OLIVER, Frank H J, Leading Steward, C/L 12825
- PEPLOW, William, Able Seaman, D/J 101056
- POWELL, Henry, Act/Leading Stoker, P/K 60855
- RAWLINGS, William H, Able Seaman, C/J 108253
- READY, Frank, Able Seaman, P/J 25478
- SHARPE, George, Leading Stoker, P/K 59370
- SIMS, John H, Engine Room Artificer 3c, P/M 35324
- SMALES, Joseph F, Yeoman of Signals, D/J 22885
- SMITH, Reginald, Able Seaman, C/J 99442
- SWEETLAND, Cecil S, Stoker 1c, D/KX 75588
- THOMAS, Ernest J, Telegraphist, P/J 76817
- THORNTON, Thomas, Able Seaman, C/JX 128413
- THRELFALL, Charles H, Stoker 1c, P/KX 75873
- TOPPIN, Henry C, Lieutenant (Pilot)
- TOTTERDELL, James H F, Act/Leading Stoker, D/K 61154
- TOWNSEND, Claud R, Lieutenant (Observer)
- TREACY, Philip, Leading Seaman, C/J 105646
- VINCENT, Arthur J, Able Seaman, C/J 24276
- WALKER, Ralph, Stoker 1c, P/KX 78023
- WATSON, William A, Stoker 1c, C/KX 67092
- WHITING, Francis C, Able Seaman, D/JX 127947
- WILLIAMS, Leonard W, Engine Room Artificer 3c, D/M 36709
- WINGFIELD, Harold, Able Seaman, C/JX 128093
- WOODHOUSE, Frank L, Stoker 1c, D/K 60100
- WRATHMALL, Charles (real name, but served as John Edward Wrathmall), Able Seaman, P/J 37310