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Battle of Jutland 2010

SMS "Wiesbaden" and HMS "Defence"


Between July 3rd and July 7th, 2010, I had the pleasure of being a dive guide on a privately owned luxury yacht. To assist them in finding some good wreck diving in Scandinavia, they had contacted No Limits Diving and asked if I would help them. For once an easy choice in life. The yacht had all possible and imaginable amenities on board, which included an advanced multi beam sonar system and a deep sea ROV (also equipped with sonar). Ideal tools for survey and exploration of wrecks. In short, the amount and quality of the equipment available, added with the unique hospitality from the captain, officers and crew, makes the yacht nothing less than impressive.
The yacht was berthed almost as central as possible in Copenhagen, at the Amaliehaven. Right in front of the Queens Residence, and another Copenhagen hallmark, the Opera House.
Upon arrival on July 3rd, I was assigned to my personal cabin, which was followed by a guided tour around the ships almost endless number of mazelike hallways and stair ways.  I was immediately met with great enthusiasm and warmth from all on board and I was amazed by the atmosphere that surrounded the place. Nothing could ruin this adventure. It could only be an amazing one.
SMS "Wiesbaden" identified
July 5th.
This morning basically followed the same pattern as the previous day. Except for one thing. Expected arrival had been set to 5 AM in the morning, so I was a bit surprised when I woke up at 7 AM to the words: "Thomas, could you please come to the bridge, the wreck’s not there…". This is basically one of the worst words for a diver to hear. Especially when you’re dealing with a confirmed target. So I got up very quickly and went to the bridge equipped with my laptop containing my wreck database. A quick look up in the database identified the root cause to the crews fruitless 2 hour multi beaming of the area. The position had been entered with a slight error in the ships navigational system. So following a correction we headed a bit south and ran over the wreck dead on at the first attempt.
The position of the wreck is one that is very well known by fishermen from Norway and Denmark. Due to this, the wreck had been visited on a single dive in 2009 by a Norwegian diving team. A team which I had helped with a mark for their Jutland trip. They later reported back to me that they had visited a wreck which was believed to be the SMS "Wiesbaden". The last German light cruiser to be located in this area. I had seen a DVD from the dive and initially I must admit that I was in doubt. But again many of the observations that the Norwegian divers had made, certainly indicated "Jutland wreck". But more dives were required though to be sure.
Previous research had revealed that both props had been blown off the wreck back in 1983 by German Navy Divers. The German divers reported that the hull lied upside down. This was in full concurrence with the observations made by the Norwegian diving team.
So here we were with the intention to try to solve, if not all, but hopefully some of the many questions. The output from the multi beam showed a wreck at around 140 meters in length, direction West-East, upside down with extensive damage to the hull in the western part of the wreck. Depth ranges from 42 to 50 meters. Things were looking promising so far, and it was time to do some ROV hours on the wreck.
The ROV was launched. At the bottom the first debris began to emerge and soon the main wreck itself came right towards us. The first recognizable part on the wreck to be identified was the massive keel. The ROV followed the keel while examining the hull structure and various debris on the bottom. We then came to the bow section of the wreck and turned around. Back in the stern end the ROV pilot identified the starboard prop shaft and followed it towards the stern. A huge sigh was heard when the HD-cameras revealed that the prop shaft did not have any prop on it. The prop shaft was bend slightly outwards compared to the ships direction. I asked if it was possible to verify the condition of the other prop shaft. Just to be sure. One minute later the ROV zoomed in on the port side prop shaft. No prop here. On the return trip we also identified and inspected the rudder which had been split in two pieces. The SMS "Wiesbaden" was identified. Congratulations to the Norwegian divers who did the first dive on the wreck.



HMS "Defence"
Following the visit to "Wiesbaden" we continued to the British armoured cruiser HMS "Defence". The wreck was located in 2002 so not diffucult to locate with the multi beam sonar. The wreck sits on an even keel in around 54 meters in a WNW-ESE direction. The ROV was deployed we could soon see the first evidence of a very large battleship - the guns. The wreck is in semi-good conditions, but partly broken up in what we believe is the bow section. We managed to locate and make video documentation of the 3 guns on the port side of the wreck. The guns were all trained in an outbound position, as if they were still aiming for the enemy. This also gave a significant clue to the possible route of the ship during the final minutes before it exploded. It was great to visit the wreck and we were able to make almost two hours of ROV inspection on the wreck before it was time to move on.
Late in the afternoon we altered the course 20 nautical miles to the south to search for two new wrecks. The search began around midnight and we spend the most of the night searching the seabed for objects. The search did however not result in any new findings and as we had to be in Copenhagen within the next 24 hours we ended the search on July 6th at around 7 AM. It was now time to steam the long long way back to Copenhagen. Fortunately the weather was still great, so many hours was spend in the sun. After a 10 hour crossing from the Battle of Jutland area we made it around the "horn" (Skagen) and continued down into Kattegat. It would take us 13 hours from here to reach Copenhagen.
July 7th.
The final day of my trip. I woke up after a long and nice sleep and almost back home in Copenhagen. Around 10 AM it was time to say goodbye for a remarkable trip and head back home. It has definitely been an experience for a life time. I am looking forward to be on board again soon for more adventures.
Thanks to everyone for a great experience, and see you soon.

nolimitsdiving (c) 2010