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: 2nd August 2002
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2002: Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands

Day 5: Tuesday, 23rd August 2002

SMS Markgraf (Dive #5)

Morning arrives to the usual shuffling of feet and clatter of cabin doors. We awaken to a drizzly, damp new day. But today is to be our first battleship dive - the SMS Markgraf. A cup of coffee and slice of toast later, the Sunrise sets lazily off for the days diving. More discussion than usual between buddy pairs and an additional briefing by Stew (Diving Officer) about orientation and safety. Some apprehension and obvious concerns about the newer divers in the group but the buddy pairs were well matched for this dive.

SMS Markgraf
  • Steve and Donald
  • Stew and Jason
  • Rick and Simon
  • Barney and Jon
  • Nigel, Gilles and Paul as the days threesometeve.
SMS Markgraf - scan courtesy of ScapaMAP Acoustic Consortium

Pre-dive checks before kitting up was probably more in evidence today with the realisation of the deeper depth involved.

As the Sunrise pulled up to the shot, and the first divers ready and waiting for the signal to sound, expectations rose. With the divers entering the water in three separate drops we were soon onto the bow shot and making our descents. Previous instructions were to go to the bottom of the line, find south and drop over the hull to the right (i.e. due west) - this would give us access to the decking on the upturned ship. At about 25m the hull came into view beneath us, laid out for as far as the visibility would allow. Dropping over the right side was critical otherwise we'd have been dropping over the hull side not allowing us time or dive profile to fin back up and over the hull. As we dropped over the hull some of the decking structures could be seen. Rick signalled discomfort and potential sickness so, from our current depth of 40m, and still not at the seabed, we ascended back to the top of the hull around 25m. As we continued to fin along we could make out beneath us a now redundant anchor chain. Further on we came to an area which had been blown apart during salvage operations - presumably for the boilers. Reaching 150 bar we signalled for the release of the DSMB, which was promptly done, and our final ascent began. Our dive computers showed a compulsory deco stop of 1 minute at 3m. As we waited at 6m, the deco penalty soon disappeared and we continued with our safety stop - a further 3 minutes at 6m. Back at the surface and we were ready for hot tea and cooked breakfast. Overall, the Markgraf was a little disappointing, as the scale of this battleship couldn't be seen, nor the expanse of the decking due to the ships resting position. It did however, provide us with the dive at depth we needed for the James Barrie ahead of us tomorrow.

Shortly after breakfast was devoured, the Sunrise drew up on Lambholm, on which stood the Italian Chapel - the only remaining relic of Camp 60 which housed several hundred Italian POWs during the Second World War. A steady walk over the hill and there stood the chapel; made out of two Nissen huts joined end to end and crafted inside and out by the prisoners. With only basic materials at hand they transformed this into a beautiful chapel, using plasterboard, washed-up wood, decorated glass, cement and paints. It still stands today as a memorial to peace and under the promise of the Orcadians to preserve her.

MV Radiation (Dive #6)

This wreck is a recent partly converted boat being prepared as a diver liveaboard. It sank in the harbour when it was damaged during a storm, then was refloated and resank out in the flow - near Hunda.

Descending the shot and very soon the boat was laid out beneath us. Visibility was about 20m before divers began kicking up, when in places it was reduced to only a couple of meters. Landing on the bow of the Radiation we quickly headed for the front cabins where Rick was headed off by Stew, to his obvious annoyance.

The wreck was very small for eleven divers at one time and two pairs of fins occupied each nook and cranny. The stern was noticeably damaged with the hull split from top to bottom at the apex. Further exploration took in the galley (kitchen sink still intact) at midships and the engine room (with a radar still lying around and clearly visible). Except for the odd pollock and small edible crab, sealife had not yet taken hold, although scatterings of deadman's fingers and anenomes lined the decks. After several tours around the deck we decided to return to the shotline and make our ascent, even with 150 bar still remaining in the main cylinder. The shotline was obviously about twice the length, and the buoy half the size needed, as divers pulling themselves up the shot unwaringly displaced divers above completing their safety-stops at 6m. Back on the Sunrise and a cup of coffee before relaxing for the afternoon in Burray. A light meal, cooked up by Steve, consisting of lobster and pasta. Later, we visited the local hostelry on Burray for pub grub, many games of pool (Paul and Simon easily ending up doubles champions) and just a couple of pints of local brew. Again, with a deeper dive planned for the morning onto the James Barrie thoughts lay elsewhere. Back to the Sunrise for some bedtime TV - Big Brother III and Graham Norton - then off to our bunks for a dwell-deserved sleep.

Friday 19th August 2002 The long drive ahead...
Saturday 20th August 2002 Finally arrive in the Orkneys & our welcome to "Shopping Week"
Sunday 21st August 2002 SMS Karlsruhe & Gobernador Bories
Monday 22nd August 2002 SMS Köln & Bottle Dive
Tuesday 23rd August 2002 SMS Markgraf & MV Radiation
Wednesday 24th August 2002 MV James Barrie, F2 and Barge - Party night !
Thursday 25th August 2002 SMS Brummer & V83
Friday 26th August 2002 SMS Dresden & Tabarka
Saturday 27th August 2002 The return trip South
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