In the first week of October, BAREG tec divers returned to Scapa Flow for six days of wreck diving on the remnants of the German WWI High Seas Fleet. The trip was originally planned in 2019 and started with seven divers. Attrition by time and the disruption of covid reduced our numbers to two divers. Though we were short on BAREG members we did dive with some outstanding divers from the UK and South Africa. The weather was sporty most days with gale force winds and seas running three to five, conditions that would cause us to wave off diving in many locations off the East Coast. However, our dive boat, the D/V Karin, is a converted German North Sea fishing trawler built for much more severe conditions. Additionally, the boat has a lift for hauling tec divers and all our gear out of the water. Climbing a typical dive boat ladder in these conditions would pose a high risk of injury effort.

The photos below show:

  • The dive boat in its home port in Stromness, Orkney, Scotland and in nearby Lyness
  • Muzzle of a 12-inch (30.5 cm) main gun on the wreck of the SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm (4-inch clip for scale)
  • Recoil mechanism of a 12-inch gun inside one of the turrets from the SMS Bayern
  • Between soft-ball and bowling ball-size bearings the turret rotated on (turret is inverted, dropped off the ship when the capsized hull was raised)
  • Breech of a 6-inch gun on the SMS Markgraf. Note, breech block is missing, all High Sea Fleet guns were made inoperable when the ships were interned at Scapa Flow
  • Dead Man’s Fingers soft coral on main engine turbine blades on the SMS Markgraf
  • My gloved fingers for scale with Dead Man’s Fingers
  • Lighthouse on Graemsey Island, we passed this light every day going out to the dive sites

Scapa Flow is a great place to dive and the Orkney Islands are rich in cultural resources, including neolithic sites such as Skara Brae. In Viking times, and later, the islands linked the British Isles with Scandinavia. The Orkneys also produce their own scotch and a favorite is Scapa, known for its peaty and salty notes.

BAREG’s previous trip to Scapa Flow was in 2015 and we plan to return again, hopefully within a couple of years. For BAREG members interested in diving Scapa, let me know and I’ll start on a conops for our next trip.


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