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Scapa Flow overview
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Scuba Diving in Scapa Flow, Scotland, UK, Europe
Dive Site: SMS Karlsruhe
Location: 58°53.23N; 03°11.18W
Description: 5400 ton cruiser
Length: 150 metres (492 feet)
Depth: 10 - 27 metres (33 - 89 feet)
Visibility: 15 metres (50 feet)
This is the shallowest of the High Seas Fleet. There was quite a current when diving this wreck, which was shot towards the bow to mid section. It was particularly strong when we returned up the shot, meaning a delayed SMB had to be used. The dive was energetic and demanding, but rewarding. The wreck lies at about 30 degrees to the sea bed. Towards the stern the ship is broken up, but the stern remains in tact a little further along. Some penetration is possible, although I only ventured into larger holes. It was easy to navigate around the wreck, even though I usually find this difficult!
Plenty of sea life was encountered on the wreckage, including brittle stars, starfish, shoals of fish, anemones, sponges and sea urchins. Huge horse mussels larger than my palm coated the sea floor towards the stern and encroached onto the wreck.
June 2008 Update
What a wonderful wreck to dive. Many areas of the ship have been blown for salvaging, producing some interesting areas of exploration. The main bulk of the wreck starts at 15m to the sea bed at 25m (tide dependant), so is ideal for nitrox mixes. We managed two dives both starting at the shot which still remains amidships. First dive was to the stern and the second to the bow. Going down the shot line and facing the seabed with the angled deck below you, turning right will take the dive sternwards. Much keel is recognisable through the breaks and many areas are covered in dense colonies of deadmans fingers, some with plumose anemones. Eventually the stern occurs and the seabed contains nothing afterwards! Going around the stern there are many fluted holes and it's quite distinct. It's worth returning along the broken keel side and criss-crossing the wreck back to amidships, and not try and swim the whole length because much will be missed.
The depth is such that no deco limits will come quickly on air. On a succeeding dive, a left turn at the shot and a drop to the seabed immediately reveals a main armament 6in gun lying completely intact on the seabed, still within its gun shield. Further on, a fallen mast can be seen and a large swimthrough area. Around here more guns can be found on the seabed, as well as windlasses on what looks like wooden decking. Air and time could be limited so ascending to the port (upper) side will lengthen the dive, swimming back towards the shot. Many spars and unrecogniseable items can be seen, and there are numerous friendly wrasse. I found what looked like a small boat davit. Some surge can occur and it's worth just bagging off and not returning to the shot.
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