Wrecks & Scenic Dives
Ireland's underwater heritage is vast and as a seafaring nation our coast abounds with wrecks of the unfortunate. The area around Baltimore in particular offers an opportunity to dive a range of exciting wrecks. The most famous are without doubt the U260 and Kowloon Bridge. However there are many others at shallower depths that provide a great dive and despite their age, still show some very prominent features. There are numerous deeper wrecks suitable for technical diving.
Sunken boats / ships also provide an eco-system for marine life with plant and fish species transforming these over time, as wood and metal disintegrate. Walls, gullies, caves and rock formation all teaming with life, fed by the nutrient rich waters of the Atlantic and Gulf Stream. Unpolluted waters often give exceptional visibility but it's still worth diving with a torch to look into the nooks and crannies during your dives. The many offshore islands provide great shelter with a colourful underwater flora and fauna to enjoy, even on windy days. We have numerous wrecks in the 15 to 30 mtr range (Alondra, Asian, Dido, Hourtien, Illyrian, Nestorian) but a few deeper once are a must for the advanced / experienced divers including the Sub (36 to 42 mtr), Kowloon Bridge (20 to 36 mtrs) plus for technical diving the Malmanger (50 to 60 mtrs), the Minnehaha (80 to 90 mtrs).Depth restrictions apply in view of divers' qualification level and experience and some are "slack dives" only.
The U260 SUB
The U260 SUB sank on 13th March 1945 and was built in March 1942 as a steel twin screwed VIIC Submarine, 1070 tonnage and measuring 67.1 m x 6.2 m x 9.6 m. She was patrolling the South Irish coast when she was reportedly mined 20 miles off Fastnet Rock. She lies in 42 metres and depending on the tide the top of her is in 36 metres, listing 50° - 60° to port (slack water dive only). There still remains the question of whether she hit the "78 pinnacle" or was torpedoed. Fishermen got their nets caught during the 1970s and sent a diver down to have a look..... she's also known as the Glandore Sub.
The KOWLOON BRIDGE
The Knowledge bridge was a British registered ore/bulk/oil carrier measuring 300 mtrs / 900 ft, 169,080 ton. She was built in 1973 by Swan Hunter in Belfast and a sister ship to the ill-fated Derbyshire which disappeared off the coast of Japan in September 1980. The Kowloon Bridge was wrecked on 24th November 1986 due to strong SW gale when she ran aground on the Stag Rocks. She lies in 36 mtrs and her shallowest points are around 17 mtrs following the collapse of the bow in recent years. Her cargo of 160,000 tons of iron ore is spread out, at that time valued at £2.7m. She had left Quebec on 7th November bound for Hunterston when she looked for shelter in Bantry Bay to effect repairs to deck cracks sustained during heavy Atlantic weather. Then, after having lost her starboard anchor in a heavy swell on 22/11/86, she sailed out of Bantry bay but then lost her steerage and began to drift in continuing heavy seas. Due to the dangerous nature of the situation, the 28 man crew decided to abandon ship, being winched to safety by helicopters in mountainous seas. The helpless vessel was then driven aground in gale-force winds on Stag Rock, near Baltimore, Co. Cork. Her 1200 tons of bunker fuel began to leak, causing a serious pollution problem to nearby coves and beaches. Despite the joint efforts of two of the world’s top salvage companies, Smit & Wijsmuller, the wrecked Kowloon Bridge could not be refloated and, when she broke her back on the rocks, all salvage attempts were abandoned. She was left to the elements to pound to pieces. The hull and machinery insurance was £8.4m (slack water dive only).
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Great Scenic Dive Sites
Great Scenic Dive Sites include the Fastnet Lighthouse, Spain Point and the River, Spain Reef, Kedge Gullies, the Arches, Blananarragaun, Crab Rock, Stags, Gascanane Sound, Sherkin, Cape Clear, Calf Islands, 78-Rock and Whale Rock to name but a few. These are ideal for enjoying a diverse underwater flora and fauna in gullies, on reefs, against walls, or even "flying" past them on drift dives when the tide is running.