Southsea Sub Aqua Club News
Normandy 70 - Wreck Week Expedition Diary
The Normandy 70 Wreck Week took place between 13-21 September 2014. Normandy 70 was an expedition by Southsea Sub-Aqua Club to dive and record wrecks associated with the maritime phase of WW2 Allied invasion of Normandy otherwise known as Operation NEPTUNE. This expedition was inspired by a BSAC Southern Region initiative (NEPTUNE 70) which seeks to encourage branches to investigate and dive wrecks associated with Operation Neptune in British waters.
Expedition Members recorded a daily account of the diving and other activity during the Expedition, and this informal daily diary with pictures, information on the wrecks, diving and other activity can be viewed by clicking the links below: (Owing to the number of pictures, these files may take a few seconds to load in a new window)
Talk on the loss of the Mendi 1917
MULBERRY 70 - Project Summary
A project to commemorate the role of the Mulberry Harbours and the 70th anniversary of the WW2 invasion of Normandy through the recording of elements of Mulberry Harbour in waters around Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and West Sussex.
Location of sites; 20+ sites primarily in the Solent / Selsey area.
Project Programme –
Jan to Jun 14; Detailed planning, training, historical research and site identification
16 to 26 Aug 14 Diving , ROV and Side-scan surveys.
Sept – Dec 14 Final project report and outreach.
Some Mulberry 70 dives
Day 1 - Sat 16 Aug
Well done to everyone who took part yesterday and in particular Mark Rayiru who managed the day superbly. The first challenge was that the slip was a foot deep in shingle from the recent windy spell... Lots of kicking and pushing of stones around and some rubber matting meant that Martin could finally drive the trailer down the slip where we successfully launched the Rhib. Some time was lost as a result but we managed to get back on track. Thanks to Trevor for helming the boat and setting up the lines for us to survey the first site.
Our initial exercise was to search an area looking for a 'whale float' as described in the Dive Sussex (Book of lies). This was a real exercise of team work whereby 4 pairs of divers drifted to search an area 20m across for a length of 80m of seabed. The must discussed theory worked well in practice and although we did not find the intended wreck target we did see a lovely large plaice about 50cm long. All gained some valuable experience of this search technique which may be useful in the future.
Our 2nd task was to dive the 'Crumbly Mulberry'. Thanks to some time spent on the boat looking for sites we were fairly confident that we had located it on our sonar. We successfully shotted the wreck and spent just under an hour swimming round the mini mulberry. A lot of tangled steel and broken concrete. There's a small wall with dead men's' fingers, conger eel and shoals of young bib, Ballan wrasse and two spotted gobies. It was a light and colourful site - good slack water and vis 3-4m. John and Neil took measurements, Mark and Ed sketched and got lost, Jim and Malcolm had a 90m swim off site to look for more adventure!
Max depth 7m! we managed 2 dives totalling 75mins on a single 12L tank and still came out with 90bar!
Sunday 17 Aug
Weather unsuitable for diving
Monday 18 Aug
No diving while SSAC members attended the funeral of a well-loved and respected buddy, Dave Gilbert. RIP
Day 2 - Tue 19 Aug
Nice day but wind picked up during the day.
Dive 1 - We set out to dive an unidentified obstruction - Dive Sussex site no 96 with a position of 50 42'31" N 00 37' 42"W (which we converted to decimal WGS 84. Dive Sussex stated that no one had dived but likely to be Mulberry related. Described as 'tricky to find'. The closest UKHO data was 20081.
What a surprise we had! The site is a pile of rocks between 20-30cm high (granite?). At one end there appears to be a very old anchor and other structures. Some wood evident and a copper nail - head about 2cm across. We think this is an old wooden shipwreck which had lost all but its ballast and what remains of the hull beneath the seabed. May not have been carrying cargo or if it was... presume perishable. We took some photos and measurements of the anchor but visibility was poor and Martin and Ali were the only ones to find it despite only being a few metres from the shot. We had a rough guess of 12m by 6m and standing up 2m Martin thought slightly less which aligns with the UKHO data of 10x10m and 1.2m height. Certainly one for the archaeologists to examine. More detail when we've had a chance to study images.
Conclusion.... nothing to do with Mulberry! (Dive Sussex AKA 'Book of Lies')
Dive 2 - We looked for another Dive Sussex site - Page 61 Site 69. 2 Beetles? Described as 2 small concrete chambers 50 yards apart. 50 44' 09"N 00 41' 36"W. We converted these to decimal WGS84 but could not pick up anything on our echo sounder and rather than waste the opportunity to dive we changed site to the Inner Mullberry at Pagham. We had a nice dive here as this is one you can swim through from one side to the other as well as going round. There is quite a lot of metal work over to one side, may be some kind of lifting gear? We will need to study photos/drawings to have a better idea what this is. Joe Bater rescued Ed's weight belt which fell from Malcolm's hands.
Day 3 - Wed 20 Aug
Beautiful morning, light winds and mostly sunny. Sun tan lotion and hat essential (photo to follow!)
Dive 1 - Whale Bridges.
UKHO site 19988. This was our most demanding dive yet. Just over 32m and very dark/poor visibility of 1-2m. We think we found 2 whale bridge sections but this is a site we need to dive again to get our orientation and look around more. With such limited time on the site it was tricky to work out how the bridge sections were lying. One in particular showed evidence of damage but they were obviously bridge section. No obvious kite anchor but too early to say as there may be much more to the site... we just fumbled around what we did see. Some video but again hard to establish some parts. Did not see any beetles but that is not to say they are not there. Ed was delighted to successfully complete this dive which was his deepest UK dive and he was unsure how he would react in challenging conditions. He did really well and was looked after by Jim and Doug. All returned safely.
Dive 2 - Unidentified obstruction
This was something we found whilst searching for objects last week with our echo sounder. We don't think it is in Dive Sussex or has a UKHO record (though we may be wrong). This turned out to be a rectangular steel pontoon type object approx. 1.5m high and some 20m long and 8m wide. Steel construction with a criss-cross of uprights and supports throughout its length. A shallow dive (8m), plenty of light and marine life although the current was a little strong. We will get the exact measurements from John Bohea and Ed tomorrow.
All in all the survey is already proving to be a worthwhile exercise - with (as we always seem to find) some surprising results.
Weather looking a little rough tomorrow so may only get one early dive in.
Thanks again to everyone including Tom Templeton for helming the boat for us over the last 2 days. The boat is proving to be comfortable, dry and reliable and a valuable asset thanks to Dave and Martin's efforts over the last year. There are still one or two refinements to be made and work is on-going but not stopping the enjoyment of diving.
View from the Fort Issue 4
The days are getting longer, the wind and rain has eased off, spring flowers are out and the shops are full of Easter eggs. That's right Spring is on its way which means you can kick off that duvet, dust off the drysuit and GO DIVING! This month we have a host of events taking place to get you into the diving spirit.
To see the whole issue, click here.
Enjoy & safe diving!
Chris Cairns (D.O.)
Neptune 70 - A presentation open to all
On 28 May from 2030 to 2230 two SSAC stalwarts, Alison Mayor and Martin Davies will be giving a presentation on the D-Day related wrecks investigated by divers from the Club in some of our recent projects.
A moray eel looks out from a tank
The seas around the South coast hold the secrets of numerous wrecks with D-Day connections. In recent years Southsea Sub-Aqua Club have been investigating these wrecks to find more about them and how they came to rest on the sea bed. From Centaur Tanks and armoured Bulldozers to Tank Landing Craft and Mulberry Harbours the tragic events behind their sinking have been part of the fascinating story now told by the project leaders. The diving team have nominated a number of these wrecks for Historic Wreck protection.
As featured in the BBC Coast programme and the D-Day Museum Landing Craft display.
The presentation will be held at the Southsea Sub-Aqua Club HQ at Fort Widley, on Portsdown Hill. There should be ample free parking and refreshments will be available at the Club bar.
Visit to the Chichester Hyperbaric Unit
Members from SSAC visited the Hyperbaric Medicine Unit (HMU) at St Richard's Hospital, Chichester on 16 April 2014. Dr Mark Glover and Nurse Sara Hasan hosted the visit with a presentation on the causes and treatments of DCI followed by a tour around the chamber which included details of the operation of the chamber. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the delivery of oxygen at greater than atmospheric pressure and is used to treat decompression illness but the HMU is also used to help people with a range of conditions ranging from carbon monoxide poisoning to thermal burns.
The Type A recompression chamber has been modified with an arched doorway into the main chamber to make access easier for patients. There are two compartments – the 19m³ main chamber where patients are treated and a 7m³ 'man lock' to enable staff to move in and out without decompressing the main chamber part way through a treatment. It can accommodate either two lying down, for divers suffering from a DCI, or up to five people sitting for patients needing recompression treatment for other injuries. Its maximum pressure setting is 8.5 bar – equivalent to a depth of 85 metres at sea although recompression treatment for DCI usually starts at an equivalent depth of 18m.
The visit was very worthwhile and divers left confident of what would happen in the event of a DCI incident, with a greater understanding of DCI. It was stressed that divers must seek early advice in the event of suspected DCI and particularly listen to their partners who may well be more aware that something is not quite right following a dive.
Those visiting the chamber found it both an interesting and enjoyable evening. If you have never visited a chamber before it is recommended to visit one whenever an opportunity arises.
View from the Fort Issue 3
The weather has been truly awful recently but in true Dunkirk spirit that hasn't dampened our spirits. In this issue we have a trip report and a focus on recent work and other activities in the club.
To see the whole issue, click here
Enjoy & safe diving!
Chris Cairns (D.O.)
BBC covers Alexander McKee bust unveiling ceremony
The unveiling ceremony of the bust of the Alexander McKee at the Mary Rose museum was covered by the BBC. Watch the coverage online.