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The Aeolean Sky

History of the Aeolean Sky

In the early hours of 3rd November, 1979, a strong gale swept across the English Channel. Although the Aeolean Sky was equipped with the latest marine navigation equipment she headed straight into the south-westerly gale, as well as straight into the 2,400 ton German coaster Anna Knuepell. At 04:30 the two vessels collided without taking any evasive action The Aeolean Sky issued a distress signal that she was taking in water from her number one hold and needed immediate assistance, whilst the Anna Kneupell suffered only minor damage - her survivors were rescued by the bulk carrier Riverina.

Out from her home port, Cherbourg, the French ocean-going tug Abeille Langudoc quickly responded and headed to the scene of the collision. The rough seas, tossed up by the gales, pounded the Aeolean Sky forcing more water into her holds and sinking her lower into the sea. The wind and tide forced the ship north-easterly toward mid Channel when her second bulkhead collapsed and a Royal Navy helicopter arrived lifting most of the crew to safety. Forced by engine trouble to return to base, the few remaining crew members were transferred to the tug.

The Abeille Langudoc nursed the Aeolean Sky back towards the Solent. Unfortunately, the Port Authorities refused entry due to the risk of the vessel sinking in the shipping lanes. Now making their way towards Portland Harbour the Aeolean Sky lost her struggle and sank in 30 metres some 5 miles south of St Alban's Head.

How did she sink?
Collided with the Abeille Langudoc and slowly sank as she tried to make her back to Portland for shelter from the gales.

Dive Guide
Today the wreck of the Aeolean Sky lies in 30 metres, lying on her port side and virtually intact. The top of hull was only 9 metres from the surface, although following salvage work her highest point is now at 18 metres. She was still full of cargo, with thousands of Marmite jars scattered across the seabed, as well as a large amount of machinery (still covered in shrink wrapped plastic).

General Info

Co-ordinates: 50 30.57N; 02.08.36W
50 30.55N; 02 08.33W

Slack water: High water at Weymouth -2.5hrs & +3.5hrs
Getting there:
RIB: Kimmeridge is probably the closest slipway from which to launch for the Aeolean Sky.
Hardboat: Several hard boats operate from Weymouth which will be in easy striking distance of the wreck.

Diving and air:
Kimmeridge or Poole, Swanage.
There are many hotels and B&Bs in the area. Contact Tourist Information.
Reasonably experienced sport divers and above. It is NOT a dive for novices or newly qualified divers.
Further information:
Admiralty Chart xxx . Ordnance Survey map xxx.
An excellent dive in good viz. The wreck is still reasonably intact and cannot be easily covered in a single dive.
Cons: None to comment on.

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