Wreck diving in the Baltic Sea
Trip Start Oct 17, 2011
24Trip End May 22, 2012
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The M24 or Stora M (Big M) is a former minesweeper, now diveboat, solidly built and well maintained by a husband-and-wife team. One other crew member arrived the second day, and three more divers came for the last two days of diving. Our group was aboard for four days. The diving area was the south end of the island of Öland, at the southeast corner of Sweden. We returned to the dock each night.
It didn't rain at all, but the first couple of days were very windy. We did one dive in the morning on the first day, but the captain deemed it too windy to dive in the afternoon. Wind means the boat is tossing around too much in the waves, preventing divers from climbing out of the water after their dives, not to mention making it harder to suit up.
The focus of our excursion was shipwrecks from World War I, especially those sunk on October 11, 1915, by the British submarine E-19, under the command of Lt-Cdr Francis Cromie. His task was to disrupt the shipment of iron ore from neutral Sweden to Germany, and in a single day, he sank five ships with no loss of life and without the use of torpedoes. He simply requested the ships’ crews to board their life boats, then used explosives or just opened the bottom valves to sink the ships. One had run aground, trying to flee, and after being looted was sent to the bottom. Rediscovered by divers in 1982-84 and dubbed, a bit dramatically, the "Submarine Massacre," the wrecks are very well preserved, due to the darkness, cold, low oxygen levels and lack of woodworm.
The water at this time of year was 4 to 5 degrees Celsius. I was glad to have a good drysuit and dry-gloves. I was surprised to learn that the Baltic Sea is not very salty – so I didn’t need quite as much weight on my belt.
Anyway, I must confess to doing only two dives. I had a cold (yes, another one, but this one lodged in my throat, and I was croaking), and I injured my knee. In trying to grab and climb a ladder that was pitching and rolling in the waves, weighed down by a steel tank and weights, I heard a crack – not of bones but maybe ligaments? It’s not so bad that I’ve gone to the doctor yet, and I was able to clamber up the ladder, but it didn’t feel good. I was happier not diving but just being out on the water – I like boats – in the Baltic Sea, with nice people.
The underwater photographs were kindly shared by Marko and Morten.