Brighton Wreck Weekend, 19th/20th March  
   
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Da Plan:

Meet: 10.45, Brighton Marina (push-off is at 11.30)
Bring: Complete kit including weights, cylinders, reel & SMB, torches.
Boat: MV Ocean Fortune
Dives: Two wreck dives and possibly one drift/ shore dive.
Parking: There is a free, multi-storey car park in the marina.
Cost: £40,- per person, includes marine diesel, a cup of tea and all the fresh air and sea water you can handle.

 
 

Please make sure you bring all your own kit. If you haven't got tanks or weights get in touch with Diving Leisure or the Brighton Dive Co, either of whom can sort you out if you give them advanced notice. Additionally a Reel & SMB are neccessary in each buddy pair so that the boat knows where to pick you up from. A knife is good here as some of the wrecks are covered in fishing nets. Finally, my experience has been that a torch is good to have for poking around under rocks and stuff.


MV Ocean Soul

The Ocean Soul is a 10 person dive boat licenced to go out to 60 miles from safe harbour. She carries O2, First Aid Kits and full safety kit. There is a loo on board as well as a small galley for tea and coffee. The skipper has a reputation for placing you bang on your wreck.


SS Fortuna

Depth: 32m

The Fortuna was a 1254 tone Dutch cargo steamer taking a cargo of cement from Rotterdam to Cardiff. In September 1916 she hit a mine layed by German mine-laying sub UC-16 and went down off Beachy Head with her cargo and the loss of fifteen crew. She is approximately 76m long with a beam of 11m.

 
 
The Fortuna now lies fairly intact in about 32m of water with her bows marking the highest point. She is considered an excellent dive. Divers say that it is possible to get all round the almost-intact ship on one dive. She is clearly Dutch- with Dutch lettering on her portholes, and Dutch beer bottles at the back of the wheelhouse. Until quite recently the doors were intact and one of them even still had a key in it. Most damage from the mine appears to be at the stern where it is possible to enter her through a large hole. Her cargo of cement is still in its paper sacks, though solid of course. WARNING: It is possible to enter the Fortuna through the stern, however she is silted to within 3ft of the top. All bulkheads are gone, so if the silt is disturbed the visibility goes in the whole section.

SS Pentrych

Depth: 17-21m, depending on whom you believe

Built in 1899 and launched as the Bardsey, this 3382 ton Teeside steamship plied it's trade for nine years before passing into the ownership of the Pentwyn Steamship Co. Ltd. Re-named Pentyrch in tribute to a village north west of Cardiff and armed with a stern mounted 4.7 inch gun, she survived 3 years of wartime trading - but not without incident. During a Mediterranean passage, on September 30th 1916, Pentyrch luckily escaped a mauling from a German submarine, during which she was narrowly missed by a torpedo and suffered damage by gunfire from the pursuing sub. No casualties were reported.

She was not so lucky on April 18th 1918, when laden with coal and five miles W.N.W. of the Brighton Light Vessel, she again came under submarine attack, this time from the UB-40 (which survived the war only to be blown up by the Germans themselves when they evacuated their Flanders Flotilla Base in Bruges). This time a torpedo found its mark and quickly sank her with one fatality among the crew.

She now lies in an easy 17-21m, her highest point 7m proud of the seabed. She is a good dive especially for novices as, even though her sides were blown apart her stern section remains and she still looks ship-like.

The City of Brisbane
Depth
: 27m
Note: There are two nets caught up in the wreckage so take care.

The Brisbane was a 7,094 ton, 137m long steamer, built and lost in 1918. Kendall McDonald reports that in August of that year she was traveling in ballast from London to Buenos Aires to collect a cargo of beef when she was torpedoed amidships, the last victim of the UB-57, off Beachy Head.

She is now known as the Anchor Wreck, due to the number of anchors local fishing boats have lost to her. Caution is advised as those fishing boats have also lost a large net on her, which was last seen amidships.

As you descend on her you’ll meet her rudder post, steering quadrant and stern gun in about 27m. Her bows stand 2-3 meters proud. Amidships there are three boilers just sticking out of the wreckage, though there’s no sign of the engine. It could easily have collapsed and been buried beneath steel from the superstructure, or perhaps it is obscured by the tangle of net just behind the middle of the three boilers. Divernet reports that there is also a net draped across the broken but still upright bow. No longer pulled up by floats, it simply dangles to the seabed from the starboard side.

The Brisbane is a big ship and well-broken. The stern has the gun and steering, the bow is more picturesque, and amidships offers the better opportunity for ferreting around.

 
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