Thursday, 26 June 2008

Dive team identify Orkney wreck

A team of technical divers has brought years of research to an end with the identification of the wreck of the SS Remus off Orkney.

The divers, led by Kevin Heath and Hazel Weaver, skipper on MV Valkyrie dived a mark in 60m off the east of Orkney on 15 May.

The SS Remus was a 1,079-ton rear-engined collier, one of only three sunk in the Orkneys area, which was sunk during World War One when it struck a mine on 16 Feb 1918.

The ship was on a sealed orders mission which meant there is no record of what she was supposed to be doing but it is likely that she was heading north to meet a capital ship to transfer coal.
Kevin has spent many years researching this and many other wrecks in the area. He was convinced the wreck which has been previously identified as the SS Remus was not following some detailed multi-beam sonar images, but needed divers to go down and identify and image the wreck site.

A trip was put together on the Yorkshire Divers forum with the aim of diving some deeper wrecks inside and outside of Scapa Flow and the SS Remus and another unidentified wreck were on the itinerary.

With calm winds and no swell, the conditions were ideal for this 60m dive. Visibility was around eight-ten metres and the wreck was relatively intact for something of this age. The two boilers and engine were in the correct relative position to the stern and a brief survey was conducted.

Photos were taken of the boilers and the bow section but unfortunately neither the bell nor the maker’s plate were found. This is not surprising considering the wreck has been trawled over several times looking at the amount of netting on the site.

Following the dive and a debrief of what the divers had seen and a review of the photos taken, Kevin was certain that this is the Remus although definitive evidence such as the bell or maker’s plate is still required.

This report was published in Sport Diver magazine after a submission by GLOC, one of the dive team involved in the identification of the wreck.