This blog could also have been titled “Submarine in interesting dive shocker”. That’s right, a submarine that makes an interesting dive and doesn’t just look like a great big metal cigar…
As I had the day off work for the England v Slovakia game I thought I’d try to squeeze in a dive in the morning. Luckily our old friend Paul Dyer of Brighton Diver fame had a space left to do the UB-130 leaving at a time that would get me back to watch the game in the pub – perfect.
As you probably noticed from my intro I’m not really into diving submarines, they don’t make especially good dives, mainly due to the fact that they are built to survive underwater so are often completely intact (M2, Sidon, U-1195 etc). These are remarkable machines, but if you can’t get to see the interesting bits inside you might as well be swimming around a sewage pipe (more of that on the 2nd dive…).
The Brighton skippers advertise this dive as the U-130, but that would be a rather long trip from the marina as U-130 is lying off the Azores. This is actually the UB-130 which sunk in 1921 on the way to Toulon under tow after surrendering to the French at the end of WW1.
So, 7.30am and we’re leaving the marina and turning left for just over an hour’s steam east to the UB-130. The sea is mirror calm, the sun is out and I’m not at work – what could be better? Arriving on site Paul quickly gets the shot in and we’re ready to go. Descending the line to the 35m seabed I find the shot draped across the wreck midships, so I drop off and freefall the last few metres before heading off to the right along the wreck. The first thing I noticed was that it’s broken up in places, but still obviously a sub. There has been a lot of salvage work on the wreck with the conning tower and props having been removed in the 1970. This work has opened up areas both forward and aft allowing insde the wreck to two areas. The first I found was towards the bows, a very narrow doorway which I couldn’t fit through – I reckon if I’d taken my bailout bottle off I might have made it but I couldn’t really be bothered. As it’s such a narrow entrance I’m pretty sure that few people have venture in, so if you like your spidge this could be a good way to get in and find some trinkets.
The other way in is through a large opening towards the stern , this is much more open and is practically the full width of the hull. As I swam in I noticed a lot of electrical-type gear and a load of unidentifyable lumps of metal, so I’m guessing this is where the batteries were located. I could only get in about 2-3m after which there is a large bulkhead that stopped me going any further. After visiting this area I carried on to try and find some dinner, I picked up a couple of lobsters but they were both berried so I let them go so ended up leaving empty handed. After 50mins on the wreck I decided it was time to go, this was more than enough time to go all the way round the wreck and have a good rummage about in the open areas.
Since getting back I have found that Tunbridge Wells BSAC lifted the gun off the wreck in 2001, it’s now on display at the Newhaven Maritime Museum. Stirling work from TWBSAC, well done!!
As we had neaded to the east the second dive was off Saltdean, the is where a sewage pipe pours out so I made my excuses and decided not to dive. Predictably those that did dive came up stinking like the Diving Officer’s bog after a night at the Plymouth Ganges. All in all I reckon the UB-130 makes a decent dive, it does get busy with 12 divers on though.