Dive Scapa Flow
Europe's premier wreck diving centre - home of the scuttled German High Seas Fleet
Exploring Wreck: Photograph by Mr P Ording

 

Wreck diving has become a major activity in recent years. Several of the remaining WW1 battleships and other wrecks are available to divers, who may charter dive boats to take them to the wrecks approved for diving around. Although most wrecks were salvaged by the firm of Danks and Cox after the German High Seas Fleet was scuttled in 1919, seven large warships and four destroyers remain on the bottom of the sea bed.

In case you think that you have to don a wetsuit in order to see the wrecks - WRONG! Roving Eye Enterprises operate out of Houton and charter a boat equipped with a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV). This amazing piece of machinery has a built-in video camera and can remotely navigate the waters independently of the boat in order to explore the wrecks - with the results relayed to all on a large television screen from the comfort of the sheltered cabin! A full commentary is provided, so you leave with a good impression of the extent and background of the wrecks. It should especially be noted that diving isn't all about wrecks - Orkney's beautiful clear waters are a haven for a remarkable array of sealife. Click here to view a short preview of their video - you need the free Real Player application, available by clicking here.

Some of the wrecks are described below by Stevie Mowat, who has had many years experience of chartering boats. For further information, including details of dive boat charters, please see the the Diving section of the Website links page.

 

Burra Sound, First and Second World War Blockships are only 20 minutes steaming from Stromness. They lie in about 10 - 15 metres and make very interesting and popular, slack water, shallow dives. Compared to the German Fleet, these wrecks are a more comfortable and identifiable SIZE with lots of marine life and excellent visibility.

1. Inverlane. 8,900 ton oil tanker, Now not safe to dive inside, due to hull collapse and no longer safe to tie up to, but can be swum around in great visibility at slack water. Still an excellent dive.

2. Tabarka. 2,624 tons a 1909 steamer. 12 m, slack water only. This wreck is upside down and is a challenging dive for experienced divers.

3. Doyle. 1,761 tons, 1907 steamer. Slack water dive. Lots of wrasse, crabs, lobsters and the possibility of a wolf fish in the bows.

4. Gobernador Bories. (see drawing) 2,332 tons. Slack water only. A most picturesque wreck. Swim the who a hull length inside. The fish are very tame and will follow you to be fed with sea urchins. Lots of light inside. Visibility 30m and lots of sea life. A camera here is a must.

Other wrecks here dispersed by 5001b mines include: Budrie 2252 tons, Rotherfield 2831 tons, Ronda 1941 tons and Urmston Grange 3423 tons. There is much other wreckage scattered over a wide area. Most divers visit Burra Sound often and take home some of their most pleasant memories of diving Scapa Flow from here.

by Stevie Mowat

 

German Naval Wrecks. The remaining German Wrecks from the First World War are closely grouped near the island of Cava, lying between the Mainland and Hoy.

1. König. Lies almost upside-down, in 34-37 metres of water. Most damaged of the German Wrecks. The hull is opened along much of its length, exposing the vessel's tangled innards. Divers may pass under the wreck to view the central turret.
König was the
flagship of the Third Squadron of the High Seas Fleet, and the name ship of its class of Dreadnoughts.

2. Kronprinz Wilhelm. Settled upside-down in 38 metres of water. Many sections of the ship's hull have been removed. The foghorn is visible underneath, perfectly perserved, and the ship can be entered to view the galley.
A König-class Dreadnought, originally called simply Kronprinz. It was launched on February 21st, 1914, and joined the Third Squadron of the High Seas Fleet in January 1915. Arrived in Scapa Flow November 27th 1918.

3. Markgraf. Settled at a depth of 24 metres. Though originally lying on its starboard side, the ship's weight has caused it to turn hull-uppermost. Open hull sections allow a view of the torpedo room, and the diver may swim right through the ship's stern.
A König-class Dreadnought. Launched at Bremen on June 4th 1913, and joined the fleet in June 1914.

4. Brummer. Lies on its starboard side in 34 metres of water. Divers can enter the upper and middle decks, to view crew accomodation. The bridge, the remains of the boiler room, and officers' accomodation are also accessible.
A light cruiser, incorporating propulsion systems originally intended for a Russian Battleship (War broke out before Germany completed its construction). Owing to its graceful bow, Brummer was capable of masquerading as a British cruiser.
It joined the fleet in Autumn 1916. It was intended to act as a lone raiding craft, but this proved impractical. It entered Scapa Flow on November 27th 1918.

5. Karlsruhe. Lies on its starboard side in 24-27 metres of water. Visibility is the best of the German Wrecks. Much of the ship has been damaged by salvage operations, but the remaining parts still contain many interesting features. There is an opening in the platform deck, which allows access to an electrical control room.
Cruiser of the Königsberg II-class. Joined the fleet on November 15th 1916, as a replacement for the 17-year-old cruiser Niobe.

6. Köln II. Settled on its starboard side in 34 metres of water. It is possible to enter the ship through a hole in the forecastle deck, and to examine the conning-tower.
Dresden II-class cruiser. The class was an advancement on the Konigsberg II-class, and the last class of light cruisers to be built during the war.

7. Dresden II. Settled in 33-36 metres of water, lying on its starboard side, Dresden is almost intact. It is possible to enter the Commanding Officer's quarters, and there are many opportunities to view features on the outside of the wreck.
Name ship of its class. This and Koln II were the only two ships of their class to be completed during the war.

 

Burra Sound - Click for Enlargement
Click the above map for an enlargement

Diving on Triton © Steve Mowat


Scenic Dives

"The Flow" boasts other wrecks and "scrapyard" sites too numerous to mention in detail, but diving in Orkney would be incomplete without a visit to some of the more scenic sites.

Stanger Head with a deep drop straight off the cliffs, enormous rocks on the bottom with big caves and a swimmable passage right through the headland.

The Old Man of Hoy is on the Atlantic side of Orkney. To reach this world famous rock stack, the short voyage around the red sandstone cliffs of the Kame of Hoy and St. John's Head is quite breathtaking. At 1200ft St John's is the highest vertical cliff face in Britain. Weather permitting, it's possible to dive at the "feet of the Old Man".

Inganess is a dive to explore deep gullies with their own undersea ecosystem. With an amazing variety of marine flora and fauna lnganess is a must for a scenic dive. In first class visibility, this is the place for crayfish.


Fishing Charters © Steve Mowat
As well as dive boat charters there's a wealth
of great angling to be had from the Flow!

 

 


© 1999 scapaflow@orknet.co.uk