The Derbent was an allied tanker that was torpedoed and sunk by U96 north of Anglesey. It was built in 1907 by Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd, in Newcastle Upon Tyne, length 94.5m, width 13.5m, weight 3178 tons. The wreck was confirmed as the Derbent when the bell was recovered july 1990. The wreck now lies in about 40m of water on its starboard side.
When we got to the site, the wreck was very clearly shown on our echo sounder and after a few knotty problems we managed to get a shot off ok, then it was just a question of waiting for slack water on the wreck. After a short while another dive boat arrived and put a grapple on another part of the wreck so it looked like we were in the right place.
Going down the shot there was a bit of a current but it was quite easy to swim down, however I did not manage to avoid all of the jellyfish stings and got caught a bit on the face. What was surprising was the visibility, the lights didn't go out at 20 and when we hit 25 we could see the outline of the wreck, beautiful. The shot was just off the bow (nice one Duncan) so we descended to the bottom so that we could make sure it was clear of any wreckage. The final bit of this descent was quite simply awsome I could see the shape of the hull from the front like a U on its side, white with plumose and DMFs. It looked like the bows were no longer there - possibly blown by the torpedo or perhaps damaged by clearing activity, so we could see into the wreckage with the skeleton quite apparent. This view is my outstanding memory of the dive, but I concede that it may have been influenced by a certain amount of narcosis.
After clearing the shot we then swam up to the port rail and swam along the length of the keeping to the deck side of the ship. Lots of tempting holes, but at this depth on a single 12 we stayed outside (more gas next time). When we reached the bridge, we went over the hull to look at the prop etc and I was quite confused by a big lump of metal sticking out from the hull. I later learned that this was the boats gun that someone had attempted to lift, but it dropped back down. After reaching the prop we bagged off.
What a good wreck, we managed to get some very good vis, possibly 8m, and had an excellent dive. The next day we did another good dive on the Cartagena. It has shown me again now that we have our new engine the diving possibilities from the club boat and I hope to do more soon. There is something very satisfying about planning a dive with the boat, getting it out to the right place at the right time and doing the dive. Many thanks to Duncan and MonaLisa for doing the boat handling, especially as Duncan could not dive quite so soon after his op.
As usual no cameras, but this time we have a bit of luck. One of the divers (Neil Hunter) on the other dive boat made a good video of his dive. Naturally he wouldn't have had quite the vis we had as we kicked it up a bit:). Also I'm a bit disappointed that there is no picture of orange peel sitting on top of the wreck as they arrived at the site.