Littlehampton Training Dive – May 2012

Sunday 27th May – “Our Joy” out of Littlehampton. Ropes off at 7am.

Our first outing with “Our Joy” brought us back Littlehampton after a very long time. This trip was planned  as a shallow training dive for those on the recent Ocean Diver training course, so the boat was pretty much a split between trainers and trainees. After a couple of injuries over the previous weeks, we were down to 8 of us: David, Paul, John, Amy, Mark, Naomi, Chris and Sue.

Our objectives were the Shirala and a drift dive.

Shirala

A 5,306 ton liner lies in 24 / 26 meters of water. She was launched in 1901 to carry passengers and cargo. She made her last voyage with a cargo of African elephant tusks, cases of wine, marmalade in stone jars, spares for lorries and model T cars, telescopes, binoculars, shells, detonating heads, and bombs for aircraft. She was sunk 2nd July 1918 by a German submarine. Lying North – South with bows to the South. Her holds are open with the highest point being the stern about 8 metres off the sandy seabed.

5306-ton British liner, built 1901. 410ft x 50ft. 387hp triple-expansion engines. Cargo: 213 passengers, 5000 tons general, 180 tons ammunition for Army, 1700 tons mail, including diamonds, London for Bombay. Position: 50 40.92N; 00 35.17W. Depth: 24m.
Sunk: 2 July, 1918 by torpedo in port side from UB-57 (Oberleutnant Johann Lohs). Five crew killed.
Diving: Maximum depth in front of boiler. Sand fills open holds. Bow and stern 7m proud. Much damage from explosives, crane and grab used in commercial salvage. Items found recently include binoculars, telescopes, wine, shell-cases, French perfume, brass clocks, medical equipment, elephant tusks and lorry spares, but diamonds and ship’s bell still in wreckage!

Vis was 4-5m and quite bright, a lot of sand seems to have drifted over the wreck, I didn’t find any ivory but did find some brass belt buckles in a concretion.,,, Single Boiler was quite easy to spot and the fish life was quite impressive under the plates…  Huge crab at the end of the shot and a well protected/hidden lobster survived our visit…

Noticed some deck timbers with paint on which I thought was interesting as I don’t think I’ve seen anything like that survive before…

Drift

Not sure of the location of the drift dive but it was further inshore with a max depth of 11m, current was enough to move you along but definitely not a tumble dryer affair which I’ve experienced before.

Underwater landscape was a mix of rocky outcrops/crevices with plant life on, separated by sandy stretches. Vis was probably in the region of 5-6m and with the Sunny day, light levels were good with some sun rays making it to the seabed…

First part of the drift we came across half a dozen dogfish whilst we were forever coming across colourful wrasse.. interesting dive until I got cramp !

Other stuff…

“Our Joy” were friendly and knowledgeable, good briefing and knew what they were on about..

Littlehampton sea front can get seriously busy, so Parking can be an issue, when I had unpacked by 6.45am all the nearby on-street parking was gone.. ( fishermen) and hence I had to go in the pay car park.. £6 for the day.

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