Scapa 2012

11 people, 4 cars, 2 ferries, 1262 miles and some epic diving = an amazing diving holiday, SHUSAC style.

The epic (albeit whistlestop) tour to the Orkneys at the tip of Scotland began on 17th August 2012. We had two days to travel 531 miles, in order to reach the ferry to take us to the mainland Orkneys to begin our 6 days of diving.

When we arrived at Stromness harbour in the Orkneys (in glorious sunshine, might I add) we found our new ‘home’ for the week, the MV Radiant Queen. Brilliantly prepared for large groups of divers, we were very happy. Obviously, the pints of hot chocolate and cookies during surface intervals helped swing the deal.


Our first day of diving dawned. The group were briefed by the entertaining and knowledgeable skipper, Emily, and everyone was raring to go. We were to descend onto the SMS Dresden, and seek out the anchor capstones and lifeboat davits. The afternoon dive was to explore the SMS Karlsruhe, which coincided with the changing tides. Altogether, a very interesting day to start us off!


The next day was a strange experience for many divers: a lay in! On a diving trip? Oh go on then!We were briefed on the SMS Cöln and jumped in for an incredibly scenic drift along the wreck.During the surface interval, we were taken the short distance to the Scapa Flow Mueseum based at Lyness, on the island of Hoy. This told us the story of Scapa Flow, and helped to build the picture of what happened here nearly a century ago. Plus, they sold cake


Day three and our first battleship: the Kronprinz Wilhelm. In summary, the biggest guns I have ever seen! The brief was to fin (carefully) into the opening where the two 12inch guns are helping to hold up the wreck. This wreck lies almost upside down, so is quite an extraordinary dive.

This day was remarkable for several reasons: the sheer scale of the wreck and its position on the seabed, as well as the appearance of two basking sharks during the surface interval! An amazing sight that many divers never get the opportunity to enjoy!


Day four, and by this time we had already annoyed the skipper to high heaven by singing our own rendition of the Kellogs Fruit and Fibre theme. (Come on everyone, “I, I, I, I, I, I like your coconuts...!”)This was our chance to dive our second battleship, the SMS Markgraf. Not for the faint-hearted, this wreck lies at 42m on the seabed, so the Dive Leader depth experience was put to good use here! Our second dive was on the SMS Brummer, a light mine laying cruiser, which had an excellent swim-through and clear evidence of the tracks used to carry mines to the stern of the ship.


The realisation of our trip coming to an end hit several people today! We were briefed on the construction of the battleship and told various options for our dive. This wreck, at 37m, was an opportunity to see the inside of the engine rooms of a battleship, as several of the rooms had been blasted while being salvaged.

The afternoon gave us a second chance to dive the SMS Cöln, which we were more than happy to take! The briefing given by the skipper built on the information given earlier in the week, and encouraged us to search for a torpedo box on the deck, broken glass bottles near the stern and the steering controls. Another chance for a long swim through!


Last day, *sniff! Today, we had choices: dive 2 on the Markgraf or Kronprinz Wilhelm, followed by the Dresden in the afternoon. Again, Emily gave us a more detailed brief for each wreck.For the Kronprinz, many of us headed off to find the look out tower on the mast, which was lying on the seabed. On my own dive, we had a close encounter with quite a large eel at an inopportune moment while swimming around the look out tower!

Dive number 12: SMS Dresden. Full circle! Opportunity to swim into the officer’s cabin under the deck of the wreck. At the end of the week, we were piecing together the different parts of each dive, which led to a truly astonishing experience.

In summary, this trip gave most of us the chance to dive some unforgettable wrecks in an area rife with history. Including trips to the Italian Chapel, built by POWs during the war, Kirkwall, Stromness Battery, (as well as the local Public Houses of course) we were able to build up an idea of the background of Scapa Flow, and why it is such an important area for historians, marine-life admirers and divers alike. Many of us had the opportunity to extend our experiences of UK diving: the depth, the kit needed, the deco built up over the week, not to mention the wrecks! The motto for this trip (apart from the incredibly cheesy song lyrics) has to be ‘Going deeper, for longer!’

Sian Leivers

Sheffield Hallam University Sub Aqua Club


We've had a very successful intake this year, with around 20 new divers being trained and a hanful of divers who area already qualified joining.

We're off to the Farnes at the end of November to see the seals. Wish us luck!

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