Pic Of The Week (09/2012)

Diving The Shipwrecks Of Scapa Flow: In 2006 I was leading a technical diving expedition to dive the wrecks of the Imperial German High Seas Fleet in the sound of Scapa Flow off the north coast of Scotland.

Team of technical divers ready for a wreck dive
Team of technical divers ready for a wreck dive (www.jb-photography.org)

The shot shows the diving team (me in the middle) in full gear for an extended exploration of the SMS Markgraf, a battleship of 176 meters length that was scuttled in June 1919 and is now resting upside down at a depth of about 45 meters.

With that in mind we entered the water shortly after this shot was taken by the diveboat skipper (he couldn’t believe that we were using that much gear, but for a 40 minute excursion to such a depth you better carry enough breathing gas…). When we hit what we thought is the seabed at less than 30 meters I thought, “damn, the skipper dropped us at the wrong place!”

The ground was flat as a table top, visibility a whopping six or seven meters, so we started a search pattern to determine if there is something interesting around. Before we came to the end of our first track the ground suddenly came to an end and we were hovering over a vertical cliff of no less than 20 meters: we had hit the bottom of the wreck’s hull and hadn’t even noticed.

Only when we finally got down to the main deck (remember, the ship is upside down) we were finally able to marvel at the dimensions of this man-made behemoth!

From left to right: Michael Mühlberger (Austria), me and Kurt Penz (Germany). I did a lot of cutting-edge diving with these two. Thanks guys, take care and stay safe. Men like you are hard to find!

(Image Copyright JB Photography)