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Scapa Flow overview



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The Dresden, Scapa dive site
Diver on the bow of the Dresden, Scapa dive site - courtesy of Tony Gilbert
Second armament on the Dresden, Scapa dive site - courtesy of Tony Gilbert
The bow of the Dresden, Scapa dive site - courtesy of Tony Gilbert
Gunshield on the Dresden, Scapa dive site - courtesy of Tony Gilbert
Anemones on the keel of the Dresden, Scapa dive site - courtesy of Tony Gilbert

Scuba Diving in Scapa Flow, Scotland, UK, Europe

Dive Site: SMS Dresden

Location: 58°52.98N; 03°18.37W

Description: 5600 ton cruiser

Length: 155 metres (510 feet)

Depth: 15 - 36 metres (49 - 118 feet)

Visibility: 15 metres (50 feet)

Rating: *****

In order to traverse the whole wreck, which lies horizontal to the sea bed, it is necessary to move fairly rapidly about the wreckage and dive with a bottom time of nearing 30 minutes. Penetration is possible through a tunnel created by intersecting holes that are not at all demanding to get through. At the time of diving the wreck it was shot towards the middle. Lots of sea life covers the wreck and jellyfish up to 30 cm in diameter may be encountered during decompression.

Reader Reviews:

The Dresden is a fantastic dive. Definitely one of the best warship dives in the flow. I dived the bow area (30m) which is really starting to peel apart lending itself to some interesting swim-thoroughs.

Masses of superstructure lie at the base of the decking, with the big guns not far off to the stern. Top dive.

Richard Nokes, BSAC Open Water Instructor

A dive to the Dresden's bow is well worth it, lying just under 30m and easily attainable. From the shot line it's easy to drop over the side of this light cruiser, which rests slightly over its port side. The area is reminiscent of the James Eagan Layne with heavy sand on the sea floor. When reaching the bow the rakish lines appear, but in this case at a crazy angle. Looking directly upwards one can appreciate the size of this wreck, and see both sides of the bow. If you've a wide-angle lens then this is the time use it. A dense garden of plumose anemones adorn the forward section and swimming back along the bow deck's starboard side, it is easy to become disorientated because the actual deck has peeled away from the hull, revealing its dark innards. But don't go too far because a visit to the bow top is a must. Here may be found the remains of the Dresden Shield on its starboard hull forward quarter, which are covered in a thick carpet of marine growth.

Again another deep profile, so it's best to stick to a short tour plan and not try and fast swim the wreck. Ascending aft of the bow the forward armoured fir control tower can be found and to the upper side of this right on the edge of the deck is a gun and housing. I would have thought this to be secondary armament, but it could be main armament (5.9in) it seems to have the size. The firing block can be seen in within the gun shield, covered in green growths and sea beard.

There can be some current on this at times and its location seems to make it as dusty as the Karlsruhe. Being slightly deeper no decompression limits will start to creep up, and if you've a slight current, work your way up the starboard hull locating the keel trim. This long straight metal line is a riot of colour with plumose anemones and deadman's fingers vying for positions. It's a nice place to launch the delayed SMB and just drift along watching the hull and fish go by, before the inevitable ascent and safety stop and surface!

Tony Gilbert

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