Rib Dive on SM UC39 – 30 metres (high water)

Saturday 6 August 2011


Dive Report Marcus Walker


Divers: Marcus Walker, Darren Grey, Emma Oakley and Geoff Elsthorpe



After 4 weeks of sea diving lost to bad weather we were looking forward to the prospect of getting salt on our kits.


The Plan to dive the Upminster wreck for the first time (allegedly a 20m wreck at lowest astronomical tide in Ron Young’s book) was quickly abandoned after Doncaster Branch turned up and confirmed that they had dived it the week earlier at 33 metres – not good for Ocean Divers! I wish people would stop moving these wrecks about. It is only a matter of weeks since we went to dive the Long Benton only to find someone had moved it! I only hope it is returned back to its proper position before the next time Darren’s GPS is used to find it.


We set off for the UC-39 at 10:15 and arrived at 10:50 due to some lumpy seas with the shot-line and buoy attached by Scarborough SAC, still there. With slack water about 1 hour 20 mins after high tide we settled down and waited for it to arrive at 11:25 amused yet again by the utterances from Darren that ‘it doesn’t look to be running now and we should be OK to get it in’. Recalling how I had been swept off the shot line the last time I had received these assurances and particularly recollecting the gallons of sea water had been purged down my neck seal as I was dragged back by the boat clinging on for dear life, Darren was politely told to ‘piss-off’.


Unfortunately dark forces were again at work and the UC39 had also been moved to deeper waters and was showing 30 metres on the depth sounder so we sent Darren and Geoff in first to give the tide a chance to fall a tad for Emma. Ever the Instructor I took the opportunity to undertake some training and charged Geoff with passing his ‘Lobster - Crab Retrieval’ essential for passing his Dive Leader qualification with the clear instruction that failure was not an option.


As Darren and Geoff gracefully descended off the rib and into the murky depths thoughts turned to a Thermidore supper (that’s not an acronym) and crab starter (neither is that). Emma rustled up a quick sauce in anticipation as she vomited over the side of the rib. As the minutes ticked by we could only imagine the heroic tussles with those monster crustaceans and looked forward to an ascending bulging goody bag. Finally, after 45 long minutes our hooded hero’s resurfaced - with absolutely bugger-all. Apparently after being frightened off by a crab with big claws, all further attempts were abandoned and they settled on a wreck dive instead – the bungling amateurs had totally failed the mission!



Next it was me and Emma in. It was ‘at this point’ I discovered my twin-set had only 160-bar fill. Not a problem with a twin-set you’re thinking, unless of course it’s all just in the one cylinder! Unfortunately for me ‘at this point’ being some 6 metres down when I found that my suit wouldn’t inflate and my primary reg was just refusing to give me any air no matter hard I sucked. It seems my caring dive shop had carefully closed my manifold before filling leaving just enough air in the empty cylinder to trick me during my buddy checks. Fortunately a crafty switch to my redundant reg on my left cylinder and no one was the wiser.


So after Darren had thoughtfully turned my manifold back on and armed with my very long back up snorkel off we went into the gloom. We hit the top of the sub at about 25 metres and conscious of Emma’s ticket and the need to avoid deco we explored the 6 mine laying shafts, swimming to the remains of the conning tower and past the dozens of lobsters and crabs resting blasé and decked across the sub before returning to the shot.


On a serious note Emma did fantastically well and Geoff also in completing his first deco-dive racking up 9 minutes.


As we have said before this is a great wreck pretty much intact with quite a lot of sea life especially crabs and lobsters!



Marcus Walker

Diving Officer

7 August 2011

Thorne Sub Aqua Club

Rib Dive on SS Longbenton – 15.8 metres (low water)


Dive Report Marcus Walker


Divers: Marcus Walker, Craig Lindley, Emma Oakley, Pete Kelly, Steven Salmon and Guest Gary Whyke  (Wakefield BSAC)



A good start to the dive season so far with 2 trips on the rib and its still only the first week in May.


All met up at Hornsea at 11.30am for a dive on the SS Longbenton. Soon got the rib sorted even quicker than normal after Steve decided we didn’t need a radio and hoofed it off its bracket (a repair job for next time).


Set off at 12.30ish in plenty of time for slack water at 14.45 (Low Water 13:45) but you can usually get on this at most states of tide. With three twin sets on board and a low water max wreck depth of 16 metres some of us were planning a dive time of around 2 weeks!


Superb boat handling by the Skipper (moi) ensured the wreck was shotted first time bang next to the boilers. Unfortunately, this obviated the need for the usual ploughing up and down trying to find the wreck so we had nowt much to do for the next 45 minutes other than wind bathe, laugh at Craig’s ridiculously fitted borrowed dry suit and watch Pete turn green in the swell.


Dive time finally came and Craig and Emma were the first dive pair in. Craig very quickly was the first back out after his neck seal large enough to accommodate an elephant unsurprisingly failed. Pete became the second dive casualty projecting his breakfast into the North Sea.


Gary and Emma were first in followed by Steve and me. Surprisingly good viz greeted us at about 4 metres.


The SS Longbenton is a 64-metre steamship with a 9-metre beam and 4-metre draught. She has a single well deck and a superstructure consisting of a 31.39 metre quarterdeck (still visible at the stern near the propeller), a 2.47 metre bridge deck and a 6.71 forecastle.


At 934 tons she is a pretty decent size wreck but broken given her age and that she was torpedoed and sunk within 2 minutes by a single missile that struck level with No2 hold at 8pm on 27 June 1917 by the SM UC 63. She was sailing at 7.5 knots. The boiler and single screw iron propeller are visible and well exposed.


The usual cod, bibb, crabs and lobsters appeared and a few ballan wrasse followed us around the boilers and past the prop. A good dive and excellent to get the club in the sea so early. Craig took over the boat handling on the way back and it’s the first time I have returned to Hornsea via Skegness. Nevertheless it was enjoyable seeing so much of the English and Scottish coastline by boat.


My personal thanks to Steve for keeping stum about the incident when Craig told him we were to power off for home.  Steve quietly suggested that he might wish to untie the boat from the shot-line first and pull it in. Steve thanks for saving Craig his blushes his faux pas is safe with me and will never be mentioned again - much.


Top day out and we will be able to add ‘as seen on TV’ the next time we dive the Longbenton as it will be featured on the 3rd episode of the new diving series starting Sunday.


Marcus Walker

Diving Officer




Thorne Sub Aqua Club

Rib Dive on SM UC39 – 27 metres (low water)



Dive Report Marcus Walker


Divers: Marcus Walker, Darren Grey and Guest Divers Andy Turner and Dawn (Doncaster BSAC)



Got up early - top way to celebrate my 32nd birthday getting up at 5am to dive on a U-Boat.


All met up at 7.30am at Hornsea Marina and were greeted by flat calm conditions. After mocking Matt at the Marina for insisting that force 5 and 5ft swells were forecast we headed off into the glorious sun and off to dive the Kalo 15 miles out. That is until half way out we were met by totally unexpected force 5 seas and 5 ft waves and we decided to head for the UC-39, which is much closer to shore.


Darren did a great job of finding the wreck, with us all putting so much effort into squinting at the depth sounder screen for the sub we barely noticed the buoy and shot that Scarborough BSAC had tied into the wreck 2 weeks before!


Slack water came quick about 9am (45 mins after low water) Andy and Dawn were first in and after 40 mins Darren and me through ourselves in but not before Darren treated us to a great performance of break dancing whilst kitting up. After dragging himself up off the floor in full kit we chucked ourselves in and followed the 3-mile shot-line onto the wreck. We descended into good viz 4-metres plus that Darren tried to eradicate with a new diving style called ‘scuba-walking’ on the seabed.


The UC-39 was a Imperial UC11 mine laying submarine launched on 25 June 1916. Built for the Imperial German Navy by Blohm and Voss at Hamburg she was commissioned for service on 29 October and sank 3 ships, the steam trawler Hornsea (some say Ida), Larsen and Hans Kinck.


She is 50 metres long, has a 427 surface displacement. Powered by two 300 hp diesel engines and two bronze screw propellers (not there now!) a row of lead-acid batteries ran two 239hp electric motors. As well as the 6 mine chutes she was armed with  an *.8mm deck gun, two bow an d one stern torpedo tubes. The UC-37 carried 7 torpedoes and 18 UC200 mines.


It was whilst attacking the Ida on 17 February 17 1917 on the surface that HMS Thresher surprised her and fired a volley of shots that forced her to make an emergency dive. HMS Thresher depth charged the large swell where she had dived and hit her forcing the UC-37 to resurface where the Thresher open up more fire killing one or two of the 26 crew as they climbed out until the Swedish Skipper of the Larsen waived a white flag from the conning tower. The UC 37 sank whilst being towed back by another destroyer HMS Itchen.


This is a great wreck pretty much intact. We arrived straight onto the 6 mines chutes, which are open but silted. We travelled along the sub past the conning tower where just before it has opened up and can be penetrated. We made our way along to the stern, which is broken up. Returning along the port side we entered the main double-hulled wreck. The batteries are still on display and after we made out way back to the bow we had a rummage around. No sign of the props but being bronze not surprising. A great sports diver wreck and easily navigable.


Excellent dive and finally ploughed our way back through the waves to still arrive back for 12 mid-day for Sullivan’s fish and chips.



Marcus Walker

Diving Officer



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