Southsea Sub-Aqua Club’s 2022 expedition project ‘US LST-523’ continues our desire to learn more about the WW2 Allied invasion of Normandy and the stories of the numerous individual ships, vessels and craft that took part in this momentous and historic endeavour. Our focus has been on smaller ships and craft rather than the more significant ships and whose role was less obvious, but just as vital, to the overall success of Operation NEPTUNE. The role of the Landing Ship Tank (LST) in military maritime operations is seldom told yet they were often the saviours and work horses of the invasion. The LSTs were also essential to the successful exercise to ensure that the Allied forces were able to be supplied with men, equipment and supplies to strengthen and reinforce their foothold in Normandy as the invasion continued. 
Our investigation has revealed some surprising and unexpected results, which we are pleased to share through this report. As a result of our surveys and subsequent research we believe that these wrecks have been confused with each other over the passage of time. Indeed, our conclusions are that the wreck long reported to be LST-523 is in fact LST-496. We are extremely grateful for the support of the US Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) for their help in confirming the casualty lists for US LST-496, 523 and 496.
This report sets out the evidence from survey and research which supports this conclusion. In addition to the investigation and recording these wrecks our LST project aimed to raise awareness of Operation NEPTUNE and its place in modern history. We also wish to illustrate the role recreational divers can play in documenting the historic environment that otherwise remains unseen and potentially forgotten.
Our sincere thanks also go to DRASSM, (Cecile Sauvage) for their valuable support and grant funding, Audrey Patreaux (GRIEME) for help with translation, Chris Howlett, Stephen Fisher and Danny Lovell for historical advice.




1Big Blue                                                                      2 Roots Reef site

This was my second exploration into the Red Sea via Roots Red Sea (Pharoah Diving), arranged via our Diving Officer, Martin Davies and Ali Mayor and it sure did not disappoint! A fabulous combination of ‘Live a board’ on Big Blue (BB) and Shore Diving on the House Reef at Roots.

There were ten of us from SSAC on the Dive Safari on BB with 8 of us shore diving at Roots for a day before and then three days after prior to our 24hours break before flying.

The Dive Safari started and ended in Hurghada and we travelled North and included the Straits of Tiran, Ras Muhammad (see below for further detail).

Hans and Nico from the Netherlands were the only other divers on BB, and so the boat was exceptionally roomy. Most had their own cabin and the dive deck was spacious. Nico was there to make a promotional video and so SSAC became bit players in the film! Everyone onboard jelled well even down to the staff, who once they had got to know us, became mischievous and we found ourselves extremely relaxed and pleasant week onboard.

So, if you are thinking about it, but not sure what it all entails, then below will hopefully give you a feel of what a safari is about – we were extremely lucky and had an exception to the rule of four consecutive days with four dives each day (3 dives during the day with a night dive at 2000), most unusual, most enjoyable but very tiring too!

Whilst onboard your life is run ‘by the bell’ – literally! Up around 0600 to complete final dive kit checks (nitrox etc.), then up to the outside lounge area for tea/coffee and a few biscuits/bread sticks and greet your fellow divers if you are so inclined or need to wake up a bit more. First Bell sounds 0630, that’s your call to conduct your gas check (if not already done) and then to make your way into the briefing room for the Dive Brief by Mustafa the Dive Guide.






3 Dive deck on BB

Once briefed, get ready and kit up and either step off the back of BB or board one of their two RHIB’s by 0700 and ably assisted by the staff, even down to getting you into your suit. Dive complete then either back to BB or one of the RHIB’s, quick rinse via the aft diving deck showers, de-kit again with assistance from the staff and get your cylinder ready for a refill, then it’s a race to get to the wet room for a much needed wee! Suits and cozy’s hung up to dry and then back in to dry clothes and complete the relevant dive logs (BB and SSAC), Second Bell sounds and in for breakfast. After breakfast, Mustafa notifies us when the next brief is due and then everyone chills, write up dives, sort photo’s, sunbathe or whatever you wish to do.

BB may now move to another dive site, or she stays put. Then Third Bell sounds once the cylinders have been filled and we are near to the time of our next dive brief, then the whole sequence starts again – Bell, Brief, Dive, Bell, Eat, Bell, Brief, Dive, Bell, Eat, Bell, Brief, Dive, Bell, Eat and so on until the day is complete. When night diving a light snack is served i.e., hot pastries, pizza etc., and yes you guessed it, announced by the ‘Bell’ and then on completion of the night dive you eat around 2130ish. Day complete, have a beer or what ever spirits you have brought with you, chill for a spell or head off to bed for the next early start!

Our weather was reasonable, it is the wind really that governs the diving as it effects whether the boats can safely moor up on the reefs etc.

Having completed 20 dives in 6 days (for those that part took in them all, your choice) we returned to Hurghada. Some of group stayed with their original buddies, but as we had a newbie to Egypt and recently qualified Sports Diver, a few of us changed buddies so she could not only gain experience from other divers, but to also progress from 30m deep to 40m deep, which she achieved eagerly and confidently and clocked up many ‘firsts’ in the process. It was a great pleasure for some of us to take her for these firsts.

Much of the diving was led by Mustafa, but on occasion we were left to our own devises, these dives were much more relaxed and enabled us to dawdle and explore this magical world.

Safari completed, we embarked a minibus and headed back down to Roots dropping off one of our group to their hotel enroute. Refreshing cold fruit juice consumed we headed to our rooms.

Next morning, the eight of us staying at Roots wander across to the dive center and check our kit (it is moved via numbered crates from BB to Roots, so you don’t have to keep lugging it around with you) and then due to strong winds the house reef is unsafe to dive so the staff arrange for us to minibus North up the coast for two dives. Next day the wind has abated, and we can wander across to the House Reef and dive when we want and as many times as we feel – so easy and again assisted by the staff but not quite so attentive as those on BB!

The House Reef has three areas to dive, North side, South side with a nice wall and the Sea Grass beds – in all we managed 10 dives in 3.5 days, one of which was a night dive – fantastic!

Overall, a really great 10 days of diving, great company with lots of banter and knowledge and so much life to see, I clocked up 29 dives out of the 30 offered and got a lot more wildlife ticked off in my guidebook. In case your interest is piqued, I have listed each dive below and given an idea of what we experienced on each dive:






4 Kitted ready to go.






5 Roots Red Sea compound

DAY 01: Dive 1 SHORE DIVE – GASUS SORAYA (North Reef) Too windy for House Reef

Kitted up on beach after 40min bus ride – check dive.

Disappointing dive due to a lot of plastic in the water, highlights - plenty of Moray,

Turtle, Spotted Ray and Starfish.

Dive 2 (South Reef)

Surface swam for 30m to avoid the murk, highlights – Dory Snapper, Yellowfin Goatfish,

Scorpion, Wrasse, Goby and Dascylius.






6 Kitting up on beach for first check dive.






PM Moved onboard BB at Hurghada





Check dive and DSMB proved by each diver.

Reef dive inc. small wreck and cave at 6m entered off BB. Lots of life and mating going

on, Damsels cleaning nest areas, - highlights - Moray, Blue Angel Fish.






7 Arabian or Blue Angelfish - Ed Rollins


Wreck of GIANNIS D a cargo carrier 100m long, stern 27m and bow 22m and in 2 pieces.

Entered from RHIB’s with negative buoyancy explored stern the bow. Highlights –

Scorpion Fish, Various Wrasse, Orangespine Unicorn Fish.




8 Giannis D wreck





9 Shortnose Unicornfish - Ed Rollins





Entered off BB – highlights – Glass Fish, Red Sea Fusiliers, Scalefin Anthias, Lion



Entered off RHIB and drifted North - highlights – Turtle, Anemone, Trigger fish.


Entered off BB picked up via RHIB – Unknown Wreck (Thor Guardian?) 31m Stern up on

reef. Highlights –Long nosed Hawkfish, Clams, Wrasse, Squirrel, Arabian Surgeon fish.





10 Arabian Surgeonfish - Ed Rollins


Dive 4 GORDON REEF - Night Dive

Entered off BB – highlights – Corals, Lion, Black Spotted Sole, Puffer, Forsters Hawkfish,






Figure 11 Unknown wreck Thor Guardian?



Entered off RHIB swam from one reef to the next – highlight Turtles, Masked Puffer,

Blue Trigger, Lizard, Butterfly fish and excellent corals.

Dive 2 MV MILLION HOPE 180m long

Entered off RHIB onto Caterpillar Crane on seabed then swam up on to the wreck and

swam inside. Highlights – Stone fish, Crocodile fish, Rabbit fish.





12 Crocodile Fish - Ed Rollins



Entered off RHIB – highlights – fantastic coral gardens, Golden Pilot Jack, Trigger,

Unicorn, Trevally, Puffer, Moral Eel, Parrot and Wrasse fish.


Entered off BB, current running and used mooring lines to find stern section and then

moved forward before ascending mooring line and guideline back to BB. Busy dive with

other groups. Highlights – Scorpion fish.


13 Loggerhead Turtle - Ed Rollins




Entered off BB – highlights – touring the holds and inside passageways, all the

Equipment in the holds.


Entered off BB – highlights – touring the outside of the wreck from stern to bow, anti-

aircraft guns, train tenders, Crocodile Fish, lots of shoaling fish.


Entered off RHIB – started at stern and moved toward the bow section then off over the

Reef and back around to the wreck – very flattened and widely dispersed. Highlights –

Emperor Angel, Red Backed Butterfly, Damsels fish.




14 Carina wreck



Entered off BB – used mooring line as guide – another busy dive sight but plenty to

see and fair amount of current – highlights – 3 types of Lionfish, feeding corals and

Moray Eels.





15 Clearfin Lionfish - Ed Rollins


DAY 06: Dive 1 SMALL GUBAL ISLAND – Reef and Wreck

Entered off BB – swam NE towards headland and then back and onto The Barge

wreck – highlights – Octopus, Dusky Rabbit, Damsels, Anemone, Coronet, Anthias etc.






16 Anemone Fish - Ed Rollins


Dive 2 UMM GAMMAR – Reef and Cave

Entered off RHIB exited BB – Highlights – Stonefish, Arabian Boxfish.


Entered off BB – highlights – Pinnacles, Moray Eels, Crocodile, Tang, Schooling

Bannerfish, Nudibranch.


17 Giant Moray Eel - Ed Rollins

Dive 4 SMALL GIFTON ISLAND – Night dive – Reef

Entered off BB – highlights – huge amount of Moray Eels some free swimming,

Slipper Lobster, Fan worms, Fuzzy Filefish, Urchins, Feather Starfish.






18 Coming up from night dive.



Entered off RHIB exited BB – highlights – Lots of Moray Eels, Nudibranch, Yellow

Boxfish, Shoals Blue Striped Grunt, Common Big Eye and Napoleon Wrasse.






19 Pyjama Nudibranch - Ed Rollins



Entered off RHIB – followed mooring line to the sweeper and then moved across

to the wreck of a fishing boat before going back to the minesweeper. Highlights –

Gilded Pipefish.






20 Dive boats moored up. 21 Mustafa and BB staff







22 Table Coral - Ed Rollins


DAY 08: Dive 1 ROOTS HOUSE REEF (North) – Shore dive

Strong current on the way in – highlights – absolutely loads, Vermiculate Wrasse,


Dive 2 ROOTS HOUSE REEF (South) – Shore dive

Highlights – Scorpion, Stone, Red Sea Rabbit fish, Marlinspike Auger, Fan Worms,





23 Stonefish - Ed Rollins


DAY 09: Dive 1 ROOTS HOUSE REEF (South & North) – Shore dive

Highlights – Madonna statue, Cow fish, Humbug Dascyllas, Flounder.

Dive 2 ROOTS HOUSE REEF (South) – Shore dive

Highlights – Spiny Balloon fish, Walkman.




24 Walkman displaying - Ed Rollins


Dive 3 ROOTS HOUSE REEF (North & South) – Night Shore Dive

Highlights – Hermit Crabs, Spotted Ray, Soft Coral Squat Lobster, Scorpion, Stone,

Baby Hooded Cuttlefish, Anemone Hermit Crab, Spanish Dancer, Shrimp, Toxic Leather

Sea Urchin.






25 Spanish Dancer - Ed Rollins





26 Anemone Hermit Crab (night dive).



DAY 10: Dive 1 ROOTS HOUSE REEF (North & South) – Shore Dive

Highlights – Scorpion, Stone, Peppered Moral Eel, Moray Eel, Harlequin Filefish, Yellow

Saddle Goatfish.

Dive 2 ROOTS HOUSE REEF (Seagrass & South) – Shore Dive

Highlights – Double Ended Pipefish, Gobies, Octopus working his way back across the

Sea grass bed to his lair in the reef, Razor fish.






27 Everyone’s favorite Octopus.



Dive 3 ROOTS HOUSE REEF (Seagrass, North & South) – Shore Dive

Highlights – Sea Moths, Gobies and Magnus Shrimp Gobies, White tailed Squirrel, White

Edged Soldier, Anemone fish, Blue Spotted Shield Slug.






28 Magnus Shrimp goby.






29 Blue Spotted Ray - Ed Rollins






30 Anthias and other fish, typical reef scene - Ed Rollins






31 Regal Angelfish - Ed Rollins


32 Anemone Fish - Ed Rollins



Overall, I found diving as a group of four worked really well with more eyes to spot and a larger area can be covered, especially when two of the four snapping away with cameras.


Without Ali Mayor’s expertise and sharp eyes, I would never have found the elusive Sea Moths, so I am extremely grateful for her to take me over to where she had last seen them and then pointing them out – brilliant dive. And the group overall showed excellent teamwork and took time out from their dive to point something interesting out to the rest and some cracking photos were taken.






33 Taken on our last dive at Roots.




Sian “My favorite part of the trip was getting to push my experience underwater and ticking off a

35m and 40m dive, feeling confidence with my progression.”

“Favourite memory was seeing the Turtles.”


Iain “Surviving cycle ride with Jim!! Octopus across the sand and being able to spot things. My

highlight was Thistlegorm and the Polar Bear” ask one of our group, they’ll explain.


Edward “Most memorable was the Moray Eels on the night dive hurtling down towards me.”


Jim “My highlight was Thor Guardian, unknown wreck, and the fantastic wrecks and taking Sian

down to her 40m dive.”


Doug “My highlight, has to be the Octopus.”


John “Apart from all the misdemeanors, has to be the Octopus on the House Reef.”


Ali I love the house reef at Roots – Lots of marine life, like meeting up with old friends and making

some new. The best way to relax in my humble opinion.


Martin “Highlight has to be mystery wreck Carina, which maybe is not the Carina?”







BOAT FEES £176 (Marine Park Fees,nitrox) $200

TIPS Crew £40 / $50

TIP Guide £16 / $20


ROOTS ACCOM £423 (4 nights’ accommodation soft all-inclusive INC Deco chamber (optional donation), Night Dive, 15lt cylinder hire for use on BB


TOTAL £1495 = £149 Per day for 11 nights (30 dives)


Additionally – Air Fare which was £413 inc. 23kg hold bag and a small Cabin Bag.




5mm Wetsuit, 3mm hood and boots/booties (no gloves as they are frowned upon, as it encourages divers to touch!)

Rash suit (if desired)

Mask, Fins and Snorkel

Regulators/Demand Valve

Computer &/or watch


DSMB & Reel (is a must as each diver must prove they can deploy one)

Weight Belt (empty, traditional weight belts are available but pouch belts, if you have one, are much more versatile)

Torch + spare and batteries (if you can) don’t forget your charger!

Dive log (with adequate spare pages!)

Spares – we worked as a team, and each took different spares.


Clothes – little required really as you spend a lot of time in your swimmers (2/3 pairs are best so you can put dry on each time you dive). Lightweight tops and shorts for the daytime and something a bit warmer for the cooler evening is recommended. BB do provide Robes and towels. I took some lightweight jogging bottoms, long sleeved shirt and a fleece. Don’t forget the sunhat and sunscreen etc. I included a water bottle and rehydration tablets (you normally get a free water bottle on BB which is yours to keep, but they all the same so having your own assists with identification, as well as during travel. A few pills and potions are always recommended for those ‘just in case’ moments, though BB had a well-stocked first aide area.


Hand luggage – Paperwork, regulators/DV, Torches with batteries boxed separately and Dive Computer. If you take a camera, then it and its attached equipment is best carried in hand luggage.






34 Typical underwater scene - Ed Rollins



I hope you enjoyed this small view into the Red Sea and look forward to seeing you there.


Inga Webster

Boat Officer


The video below is a short taster for content on the History Hit site. This piece describes how important the Mulberry Harbours were and what they look like today. It is also in part an advert for the channel.


John Henry Phillips, Daniel Oron (Director), along with Alison Mayor and Martin Davies from the Southsea Sub Aqua Club dive into the behind the scenes of the search for LCH185; as captured in the documentary "No Roses on a Sailor's Grave."




Exclusive: Learn what it took to put the expedition together, how John learned to dive, what it's like to perform an off-shore dive in the English Channel, and the challenges the team faced along the way. Southsea Sub-Aqua Club members won the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) 2019 Adopt a Wreck Award for the search of the landing craft sunk during the D-Day landings.


The video below, published on the YouTube channel Real Engineering, gives an overview of the Mulberry Harbours and their construction. It includes various pieces of film showing them being used and the damage caused by the storm on June 19th 1944 which destroyed Mulberry A.


On this page, we'll list some of the popular diving sites in the local area, along with some useful information such as which tidal resources are best used and the location of the site.


There are a number of diving books available to help find a local dive site. Whilst some were written a few years back, the core information is still valid. For the older ones, you should double-check their location as some aren't too accurate. the website mentioned below does provide more current information. The books include:


Once you know the site/s that you wish to dive, can provide the GPS coordinates.

Do take a look at the list of diving projects which SSAC members have undertaken. Whilst a good number are based off Normandy, many of them are on local dive sites and they can make excellent dives.



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Planning dives often requires local knowledge, good tides and some luck with the weather. There are a number of tools that a diver can use to help make things happen in a safe manner and at the right time.

A BSAC Dive Leader and BSAC Advanced Diver will have been given some training to help plan a dive safely using things such as charts, tides and weather forecasts. Where once a diver would have been using paper charts, tide books and tuned in to the shipping forecast on Radio 4, today those tools are often electronic. With the Internet, it is often possible to get some accurate information too when it comes to tides and weather.

The reference material below may be of use to visiting divers.



Our club RHIB uses electronic charts that are regularly updated. This does not mean that we do not use paper charts to help plan some dives. The charts listed below cover our local area.

These best Admiralty charts for diving in our area:

  • 536 Beachy Head to Dungeness
  • 1652 Selsey Bill to Beachy Head
  • 2022 Harbours and Anchorages in the East Solent Area
  • 2037 Eastern Approaches to the Solent
  • 2045 Outer Approaches to the Solent
  • 2625 Approaches to Portsmouth
  • 3418 Langstone and Chichester Harbours

These should allow you to review the local area for hidden areas that are shallow, especially when approaching the Langstone Harbour entrance and Selsey public slip at or near low water.


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In the Solent area, Portsmouth Harbour is the main reference point for any tides. Slack times are normally expressed as before or after high water Portsmouth.

Portsmouth Tide times ( Portsmouth Tide Times (

Stokes Bay, Gosport (

Selsey Bill times can be useful for shore dives off Selsey.

Selsey Bill Tide Times ( Selsey East Beach (

Usefully, NAB Tower has its own tide times too.

Nab Tower Tide Times ( Nab Tower Tide Times (

For those people who prefer to use their mobile phones for the times of the tides, the following apps may be useful, but the information is often just the times and heights at ports.

These free apps and many online sites will only provide tidal times up to seven days in advance. For long-term planning, it may be better to invest in a product that can provide tidal information for a much longer period.

The Admiralty Tide Calc software is one such product. Whilst it isn’t as cheap as a local tide book, it could be a valuable club purchase.

For many dive sites, we refer to various nearby tidal diamonds to help calculate slack water. These include:

SN005AD (Sandown Bay)

SN005AE (east south-east of Ventnor)

SN007D (south of Nab Tower)

SN007E (Bracklesham Bay)

SN007F (south of Selsey Bill)

SN007H (south-east of Selsey Bill)

We’ve found that SN007G tends to not be very useful for the dive sites we visit, even when they appear to be close. Often the slack water times are more accurate with either SN007F or SN007H.

There are several WW1 & WW2 U-Boats further out into the channel. There are nearby tidal diamonds that are available to help predict the respective slack water times.


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As anywhere else around the British Isles, the wind is the biggest factor for calling a dive off in the Solent and surrounding area.

Easterlies or south easterlies are the worse as there is very little protection from the elements for most of the nearby dive sites from these winds. Whilst a westerly isn’t popular, there is often a chance that you’ll get some shelter from the wind in the Bracklesham Bay area.

The list below is the prime places on land for checking the forecast for diving in the Solent local area.

  • Stokes Bay
  • Southsea
  • Selsey
  • Bracklesham Bay

Providing the wind isn’t too strong, diving off Selsey is normally fine with westerly to northerly winds.

Most of the boat dives are a little distance from the shore, so a limit of F4 should be observed in a RIB. Don’t forget to add some additional time for travelling to & from the dive site too as your passengers will be in for a rough ride, even in an F3. Forecasting is definitely an important tool for planning dives and there are often as many different forecasts as there are sources available for them. Please do look around at multiple sources and don’t take one single forecast as likely to be 100% correct. The links below can help but when you arrive do take a look around.

Stokes Bay

Stokes Bay (Met Office)

Stokes Bay (

Stokes Bay Sailing Club

[powr-weather id="fe33528a_1639959542"]


Southsea (Met Office)

Southsea (

[powr-weather id="450e8e8c_1639959642"]


Selsey (Met Office)

Selsey (

[powr-weather id="a2bbc3b9_1639959813"]

Bracklesham Bay

Bracklesham Bay (Met Office)

Bracklesham Bay (

[powr-weather id="1d0761d5_1639959761"]


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Weather Apps & websites (updated March 2019)

For most UK divers we don't tend to worry about things such as rain or sunshine. Although it is always nice to dive when the weather is good, it is the wind that has the greatest impact on our ability to dive safely. Heavy rain and fog can impair visibility, so must also be taken into consideration. The apps below provide some useful data for wind strength (up to 7 days). Some offer longer-term forecasts for a fee. In practice, such long-term forecasting is often changeable and therefore isn't generally relied upon.

Some of the apps and sites provide information on wind speed and direction in graphical terms, making it much easier to plan your diving. For example, it might be blowing a strong Westerly F4, but close into the East side of the Isle of Wight, it is possible to gain some shelter.


MagicSeaWeed website

Météo Marine

Marine Weather website

Met Office Weather app

Met Office website

PredictWind Marine Forecasts (registration required)

Predict Wind website

Yachting Weather


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** Under development **

July 2019: This page is currently being built. Some information may be incomplete. Where possible photos may be added too.

There are a few tempting sites locally for some shore dives. As there is a lot of potential for boat traffic in the area and other potential issues, it is highly recommended that each diver carry their own dSMB and know how to deploy and use it. As a club, we often teach even out Ocean Divers how to use an SMB as even when on the club’s RIB, they are an essential piece of kit.


Our favourite shore dive is by the Lifeboat station in Selsey. When diving here it is very important that each diver carries a dSMB. An SMB must be deployed between buddies at all times when in the water. Do not dive immediately in from off the new Lifeboat Station.

Mulberry Marine Experiences have published some great safety information on this site. Consider this a ‘Must read’ before diving here. In the past, a lifeboat launch had to be cancelled due to divers in the wrong place and without an SMB. Please don’t make it another.

The maximum depth for the dive is around 6-8m.

Slack water is around 4 hours before high water Portsmouth (or Selsey Bill) and 3 hours after. The best dive for visibility is on the 3 hours after. Neap tides offer the better and longer slack.

As this site is exposed, when the wind is blowing onshore, the waves can make it dangerous to get in and out of the sea. For this reason, it is best dived with westerly to northerly winds. Avoid diving with an easterly or south-easterly wind.

Sadly the old Lifeboat Station on the pier has now been removed. All the struts were removed too. There are a few items on the seabed where it used to be. When the pier was there, it was possible to see just how much the current runs along this shore. Please do get the tides & timings right, or you’ll have a long walk back to the car at best.

The stony beach can make it a challenge after the dive.

Do check the Selsey Lifeboat Station website and Facebook page for any events. For example, the Selsey Lifeboat Station has an annual launch day and also has a raft race too. This could mean that parking is difficult at best and it may be almost impossible to leave the area, let alone dive, during these times.

The Lifeboat Inn is very popular at the weekend for families, so please remember to watch out for the little’uns running around. The pub provides an excellent place to debrief after the dive and to complete your logbooks before heading home.


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Southsea Pier

In the past diving in and around the pier at Southsea was popular. Currently, it is no longer a good idea to dive under Southsea Pier. The pier is in danger of collapse and pieces have fallen into the water.

There is a plan to renovate the pier. This could take a few years. During this time it will be even more dangerous to dive near the pier.


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Gosport/Stokes Bay

Off the beach by the GAFIRS lifeboat station (east side of the slipway) are the remains of the pier that was a part of the Gosport railway. The pier was once used by a ferry service that went to the Isle of Wight.

The maximum depth is around 6-8m.

There isn’t much left and the few struts remaining are easily confused with a reef. For this reason, there aren’t many hidey holes for marine life.

Visibility can probably best be described as “interesting”. Ranging from zero & dark to a couple of meters, but illuminated.

Do get the tides right as you’ll easily and quickly find yourself heading towards Southampton or Southsea. It would also be prudent to use an SMB during the dive. There is a sailing club based nearby and the lifeboat crew won’t be too happy if they are unable to launch either due to not knowing where the divers are.

A few club members dived this site a couple of times in 2017 whilst looking for an anchor that someone else had kindly left behind. They were boat dives for the safety of everyone. Off the pier, the bottom is very much “Solent ooze” with little, if any, signs of life. There are better places for a bimble.


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Vobster Quay, September 2018 ©Robyn Peel 2018
Vobster Quay, September 2018 ©Robyn Peel 2018

In the local area, we have Andark Lake available for training. This lake was built by Andark after public access was lost to Horsea Island. Horsea Island is now only available to the military and is used as the base for training, not just for Royal Navy divers, but also for the other services.

Andark’s freshwater lake is about 7m deep and has a few items to allow the diver to explore. It’s great for checking out your kit or practising a few skills. Visibility can be good if it is quiet, but on a busy day, it can be easily stirred up.

For anything else, club members will typically travel to Vobster which is around 2 hours drive from the Portsmouth area. Occasionally some members will travel to Stoney Cove, which is around a 3-hour drive from the Portsmouth area.


Approximate locations of sites   Image of Earth courtesy of the ISS, NASA (2022)
Approximate locations of sites Image of Earth courtesy of the ISS, NASA (2022)


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There are several businesses in the local area which serve the diving community. Whether you are looking for gas, new dive gear or want it servicing, along with cylinder testing, between them, there is a very comprehensive range of products available. You can also learn to dive through some of them. Whilst the dive shops will offer new gear, please do not be put off when they say that the specific item you are looking for is not in stock. Their knowledge and experience will help you to get the right item for you.

Please note: The listing of any business here does not mean that Southsea Sub-Aqua Club endorses its products and services.



Important note: With Covid-19 issues, many shops have been opening in different ways to "normal". Many of the businesses listed have also been affected. Please check their respective websites or social media pages prior to popping in.


Solent Divers

Our most local dive shop is Solent Divers, which are located in Portsmouth.

Air is available to 232 BAR. Nitrox and Trimix are not available.

Address: 122-128 Lake Rd, Portsmouth PO1 4HH

Telephone: 023 9281 4924

Opening hours:















They stock a range of dive gear and accessories. If you would like something else, they will order anything they don’t currently have on the shelves. If you want your regs serviced, then this is a good place to visit. Cylinders can be brought here too for testing or O2 servicing.

Solent Divers make their own neoprene suits to order.


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Safety Air Services

Safety Air Services is a part of Solent Divers that is located in the Portsmouth area. They primarily test and service cylinders. Should you wish to have your Scuba cylinders tested, you can take them to Solent Divers and collect them from there once the testing is complete.

Address: 32 Middle Street, Southsea, Hampshire  PO5 4BP

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Telephone: 02392 294 560

Opening times:


8.00 to 17.00


8.00 to 17.00


8:00 to 17:00


8:00 to 17:00


8:00 to 17:00






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Just up the M27/A27, near to Southampton, is Andark.

Air (up to 300 BAR), Nitrox and Trimix is available.

Address: 256 Bridge Road, Lower Swanwick, Southampton, Hampshire  SO31 7FL

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Telephone: 01489 581755

Opening hours:


10am - 6.30pm


10am - 5.00pm


10am - 6.30pm


10am - 5.00pm


10am - 5.00pm


9am - 5:00pm


By appointment only

Andark stocks a wide range of gear for water sports users, including divers. As a PADI 5 Star centre with their own swimming pool and purpose-built lake, they are in a very good position to offer diver training. They can service your regs. Cylinders can be brought in for testing or O2 servicing.


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Based in Curdridge, Obsequio offers a range of services, including testing cylinders and servicing dive gear.

Address: Unit 3A Calcot Mount Business Park, Calcot Lane, Curdridge  SO32 2BN

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Telephone: 0333 355 0824

Opening times:


8.30 to 17.00


8.30 to 17.00


8:30 to 17:00


8:30 to 17:00


8:30 to 17:00


By prior arrangement




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Southern Cylinder Services

Based in Fort Fareham, Southern Cylinder Services offers a range of services, including testing & filling cylinders and servicing dive gear.

Air & Nitrox fills are available.

Address: Unit 18 Northern Galleries, Fort Fareham Ind Site, Newgate Lane, Fareham PO14 1AH

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Telephone: 01329 221125

Opening times:


8.00 to 16.30


8.00 to 16.30


8:00 to 16:30


8:00 to 16:30


8:00 to 16:30






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Mulberry Marine Experiences

(previously known as Mulberry Divers)

Based in Selsey, Mulberry Marine Experiences is an SSI Diamond Dive Centre. They offer a selection of both Scuba and Freediving courses.

Air & Nitrox to 300 BAR.

Address: 9 Orchard Parade, East Beach, Selsey, West Sussex  PO20 0NS

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Telephone: 01243 601000

Opening hours:






9:00 to 17:00


9:00 to 17:00


9:00 to 17:00


9:00 to 17:00


10:00 to 17:00 

Please note: When the boat Mulberry Diver is operating, the Dive Centre opens 1 hour prior to the first boat of the day to allow for booking in and collection of equipment.

Mulberry Marine Experiences offer a range of goodies for the Scuba diver and freediver. They keep a good stock of dive gear and can easily order anything that isn’t on the shelves. As an SSI Diamond Dive Centre, they offer a good range of diver courses for the beginner to the experienced.

They often run Marshalled Dives off the beach near the Selsey Lifeboat Station, when the tides are right.

If you require your regs to be serviced, then you can bring them in here. Cylinders can be brought in for testing or O2 servicing.


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Island Divers

Based in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, Island Divers is a PADI 5 Star Dive Centre. They offer a selection of PADI Scuba courses.

Air & Nitrox are both available.

Address: Shepards Wharf, Madina Road, Cowes, Isle of  Wight  PO31 7HT

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Telephone: 01983 240255

Opening hours:




10:00 to 16:00


10:00 to 16:00


10:00 to 16:00


10:00 to 16:00


10:00 to 15:00




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Over the years our club has used a variety of local facilities to help us go diving. There are also a variety of different dive sites available to meet the needs of divers with a wide range of experience and interests.

  1. Boat Charters
  2. Launch sites
  3. Dive Shops (Gas & Gear)
  4. Inland diving
  5. Shore Dives
  6. Boat Dives
  7. Charts, tides & weather

We are lucky to be located in the middle of the south coast. The local area offers the possibility of a range of diving from shallow easy dives for a trainee diver, to deeper, more challenging dives for the experienced mixed gas diver. The sites are often based around a wreck, with a few gullies or reefs too. The wrecks include a wide range of crafts. They are not limited to just shipwrecks from both wars, even if these are the more common. We have a range of historic sites including the Mulberry Harbours, Tanks & Bulldozers, aircraft, and submarines. There are a few protected sites too, such as the HMS A1, HMS Invincible & Thorness Bay protected wrecks which are diveable with the permission of the respective Licensees.

Tompot Blenny ©Martin Davies 2008
Tompot Blenny ©Martin Davies 2008

Sealife varies from season to season. It includes things such as sponges, pink fan coral, Pollack, blennies, pipefish, common starfish, painted top shells, whelks, mussels, oysters, scallops, cuttlefish, dogfish, wrasse, a variety of crabs, lobsters, eels, rays and many flatfish. If you are lucky, then you may be accompanied by a pod of dolphins on your way to the dive site!

Picking the right conditions can be tricky. The Solent Ooze covers some areas and can contribute to the debris floating in the water column. It isn’t helpful when the dredgers are busy improving the local harbours which would otherwise silt up. There are a couple of dumping grounds, the most popular being just south of the Nab Tower to the east of the shipping channel on the east side of the Isle of Wight.

Club RHIB ©Rob Dawson 2018
Club RHIB ©Rob Dawson 2018

The local tidal forces are unique. The Isle of Wight has an effect and when the conditions are right, you can get a double high tide. This can make planning slack water “interesting” at times. Some areas are better dived at low water slack, whilst a few are better dived at high water slack. There are a handful of drift dives, but most diving is best completed on slack water.

Guides such as “Dive Isle of Wight and Hampshire” or “Dive Sussex” are useful for identifying many of the local dive sites. They haven’t been updated for a few years and there are several errors in many of the listed sites as a result of time and more up to date information becoming available. For more accurate GPS marks, it can be better to use the website .



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Members of Southsea Sub-Aqua Club often plan a weekend, long weekend, week or longer trips together to a variety of places either in the UK or abroad. Sometimes a member of the group will put together a diary or report and illustrate it with some images of the holiday. Often too they'll include a little humour as well. Below are some diaries and reports of what they got up to on a few of the trips. Many are holidays and a few are about the expeditions or projects which members have been involved with too.


Britain has relied upon the seas surrounding her for many millennia. Whether it has been for fishing, the import and export of goods, travelling and exploration or for protecting her shores from potential invaders. Occasionally a craft has failed to complete its journey and has sunk below the waves, leaving a wreck. More often this has been caused by a storm at sea, but can also have been caused by an accident (i.e. collision), navigational error or through warfare.

Southsea Sub-Aqua Club has a long history of wreck site investigation, the most well-known being "Project Solent Ships" which directly led to the discovery of the Mary Rose, but we didn't stop there. Over the years the Club has developed an association with a number of local wreck sites and some off the Normandy coast.

The projects involve a number of different types and ages of wrecks. They include ships, landing craft, aeroplanes, Mulberry harbours, armoured bulldozers and tanks from the two World Wars, as well as older wrecks, much older.

Today there are various courses available to help divers to record the sites and various members have completed such courses. They may have been completed within the club or through other organisations, such as the Nautical Archeology Society (NAS) or a University.

Some techniques have changed over the years as new technologies have become available. Where once an accurate sketch may have been sufficient, today you'll often find people still using tape measures and underwater slates, but also you'll find some using underwater cameras to help produce stills, video and 3D images. Often local and national news services have become interested in the stories of the projects too.

The articles below provide links to the various projects. They include photos and drawings of the sites, a record of the kind of life observed by the teams as well as some history to help bring them back to life.