Things have been a bit quiet since I moved to the states but I intended to change this in 2017 with two very interesting trips. The first is where I returned to Malta with Jack Ingle (http://www.jackingle.co.uk/) but this time to dive some World War wrecks.

The diving would be mainly Rebreather diving with only two in the group on open circuit scuba, but that should not deter any open circuit divers wanting to go with Jack in the future. The plan is to decend to the wrecks using a shot line leaving your clip tag at the bottom of the line, on completion of your dive you recover your clip tag with the last person cutting the tie to the wreck. Ascension would be up the shot line to the travel line, which takes you across to the decompression trapeze, with the last ascending person unclipping the travel line from the shot line. With all divers now on the deco trapeze it floats away in the tide so divers are not struggling with a current. The gasses used in the rebreather were 100% oxygen and a diluent gas of 10/50 Oxygen/Helium mix, also carried was a emergency bailout tank of 18/37 Oxygen/Helium mix with further high % Oxygen mix available on the deco trapeze should it be required.

 

The first wreck and shake down dive was the Imperial Eagle Built in 1938 in Sunderland, England, The New Royal Lady as she was known. She only had two seasons at Scarborough before the start of the Second World War, and she was requisitioned by the Royal Navy in 1940 for transport duties.

She was purchased by the MOWT in 1942, managed by Fraser & Wright. In 1944 she was attached to the US Navy. New Royal Lady was resold to her owners in 1946, who sold her the following year to John Hall of Kirkaldy, for service on the Firth of Forth

Later the same year she passed to the General Steam Navigation Co and was renamed as the Crested Eagle for cruises on the Thames from London to Gravesend and Southend, plus PLA Docks cruises. From 1952 she was taken off the PLA cruises and based in Ramsgate for local trips. In 1956, Crested Eagle became a regular service vessel, running from Gravesend to Southend and Clacton daily except Mondays. P.& A.Campbell chartered Crested Eagle in 1957 for services on the South Coast. She ran short trips from Eastbourne to Hastings, except Fridays when she ran from Brighton to Shanklin. Crested Eagle did not sail for the GSN again, and was bought by E Zammit & Co Malta and renamed Imperial Eagle for service between Malta and Gozo.

The Imperial Eagle carried about 70 passengers and 10 cars. It made its maiden voyage in 1958 and was taken out of commission in 1968, her claim to fame being the sister ship to Jacques Cousteau's 'Calypso'

 

 

 

Alby Roberts

 

This magnificent statue of Jesus Christ which was blessed by Pope John Paul II in 1990 and placed on the seabed to protect the fishermen of Malta.

 

The next wreck was the SS Le Polynesien

 

 

 

The Polynesien was built for "La Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes" at La Ciotat in France like her sister ships "Australien", "Armand Behic" and "Ville De La Ciotat". The ships were quickly recognisable by their length, low profile on the water, and by their double funnels painted black. The ships were painted white between 1895 till 1905. Le Polynesien was launched on the 18th April 1890 by Marie Francois Sadi Carnot, President of the Republic of France.

In 1891 she started operating between France and Australia, through the Suez Canal. In 1903 they changed her route and operated between France and the Far East mainly transporting passengers to the French Colonies. In 1914 it operated towards Australia and New Caledonia, before being dispatched back to Europe. On the 10th August 1918 she was hit by a Torpedo from the U Boot UC22 and 10 people lost their lives.

Southwold was ordered on 20 December 1939, and was built by J. Samuel White and Company of East Cowes as part of the 1939 emergency program. Her keel was laid on 18 June 1940 with Job number J6274, and the ship was launched on 29 May of the following year. The vessel was completed on 9 October 1941.

After she was completed, Southwold went to Scapa Flow for trials, after which she joined the Mediterranean Fleet. On 16 November 1941 Southwold joined convoy WS12Z at the ocean escort Clyde Assembly point. The ship detached from the convoy on 14 December and made an independent passage from Mombasa to Alexandria.

On 5 January 1942 she joined the 5th Destroyer Flotilla for patrol and convoy escort duties. She deployed a supply of stores and embarked troops to Tobruk. On 12 February she was part of the Malta Convoy MW9B but the convoy was under heavy air attack so it returned to Alexandria.

On 20 March 1942, she carried out an anti-submarine sweep along planned path for Malta relief convoy MW10 along with some other destroyers. On 21 March, she joined this same convoy and took part in the Second Battle of Sirte a day later. On the 23rd she and HMS Beaufort left the convoy to escort HMS Breconshire to Malta.

On 24 March, Southwold was attempting to pass a line to Breconshire when she activated a British mine and there was an explosion in which an officer and four ratings were killed . She sustained major structural damage and the engine room flooded while electrical supplies failed. She was towed by the tug Ancient but the hull split and she began to sink. The survivors were rescued by HMS Dulverton.

The wreck of Southwold lies in two sections about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of Marsaskala Bay. The bow is the largest piece, about 40 metres (130 ft) in length, and it lies on its starboard side at a depth of 70 metres (230 ft). The stern, which is located about 300 metres (980 ft) away from the bow, is about 28 metres (92 ft) long and it lies upright in 72 metres (236 ft) of water

Jars mugs and plates still line the galley shelves

HMS Stubborn was an S-class submarine of the Royal Navy, and part of the Third Group built of that class. She was built by Cammell Laird and launched on 11 November 1942. So far she has been the only ship of the Royal Navy to bear the name Stubborn

Stubborn survived the Second World War and was sunk on 30 April 1946 as a Sonar target. Vessel is upright in 60 meters depth located about 3 nautical miles north-east of St Paul’s Bay