Southsea Sub-Aqua Club has a long history of wreck site investigation. In recent years the Club has developed an association with a number of local wreck sites.
Normandy 70 is an expedition by Southsea Sub-Aqua Club to dive and record wrecks of associated with the maritime phase of WW2 Allied invasion of Normandy otherwise known as Operation NEPTUNE. This expedition was inspired by a BSAC Southern Region initiative (NEPTUNE 70) which seeks to encourage branches to investigate and dive wrecks associated with Operation Neptune in British waters.
Following an approach from a group of English speaking divers, “Scuba Ninjas”, from France we are now embarking on a joint expedition to dive the WW2 Normandy wrecks with this group. Scuba Ninjas are a multi-national and multi-cultural group of divers and we are delighted to have the opportunity to dive as a joint expedition. They host a Facebook and web site to provide information and advice to English speaking divers – “Dive into France’. This multinational and multicultural expedition will provide the opportunity for divers from a number of different nationalities and cultures to commemorate the events of D Day and the subsequent liberation of France.
This joint expedition has developed fairly quickly but plans are fairly well advanced. We have engaged widely with others including UKHO, with a view to exploring and recording a number of unidentified sites which may shed light on the what remains on the sea bed. We intend to share our findings with appropriate public bodies thereby adding to the public record of this historic event.
We are most grateful to the BSAC Expeditions Grant Scheme which has made a grant of £1000 which may be used by the BSAC members to offset some expenses of the expedition, such as travel costs.
In recent years divers from Southsea Sub-Aqua Club (SSAC) have completed three projects to investigate, dive and record wrecks along the South Coast of England which played a part in the WW2 invasion of Normandy.
This year we are planning another ambitious project to survey 20+ sites that are believed to be connected to the Mulberry Harbours that played such a vital part in the supply of troops and equipment the Allied forces. The building of the Top Secret Mulberry Harbours, each the size of Dover was the largest ever British construction project and completed in less than a year. The various components of the Mulberry Harbours gathered along the south coast of England before being towed to France and carefully assembled to create two fully functional harbours within days of D Day was critical to supporting the invasion forces and ultimately the ending of WW2.
Along the Hampshire and West Sussex coast alone there are in the region of 30 sites associated with the Mulberry project; from foreshore (construction/slipways), exposed/intertidal concrete units, to fully submerged bridges, pontoons and associated concrete caissons. Southsea Sub-Aqua Club plan to provide an accurate and detailed record of these sites thereby adding to public record of the Mulberry Harbours in British waters. In our discussions with English Heritage they have confirmed that data held on Mulberry Harbours is very limited and has potential to be inaccurate.
We are very grateful that our project has been financially supported by the BSAC Jubilee Trust with a grant of £1250 which will help defray the fuel costs for the Club RHIB, Southsea Explorer on Project Diving and sonar survey trips
His Majesty’s landing craft tank (LCT) 427 sank at 03:03 on 7th June 1944 at Spitbank Gate as she approached her home port. LCT 427 was returning to Portsmouth after delivering a cargo of Sherman duplex drive (DD) tanks to Gold Beach on D-Day as a part of the British lead assault under Operation Neptune. As she approached Portsmouth in the early hours of 7th June 1944, part of a flotilla of tank landing craft, she was in collision with the battleship HMS Rodney. The LCT was sliced in two amidships as she collided with the bow of HMS Rodney. All thirteen crew of LCT 427 were lost in the tragedy. The incident was not officially recorded for some months during which time the LCT and her crew were reported as missing.
The exact location of LCT 427 was not known when we began our investigation.
A team of divers from Southsea Sub-Aqua Club will solve the mystery of how two tanks, two bulldozers and a field gun, believed to be linked to D-Day and Project Neptune, came to rest on the sea bed eight miles offshore in Bracklesham Bay, West Sussex.
The historic WW2 armoured vehicles and gun lie jumbled up on the sea bed at a depth of 20m but there is no known associated shipwreck nearby. The divers will survey the site to establish how the equipment came to rest on the sea bed.
The project, led by Alison Mayor, has the approval of the MoD and a grant from the British Sub-Aqua Jubilee Trust.
A1 was the first British-designed and built submarine. Although the Solent area wreck site of A1 has been known to a lot of divers and the marks published in many a book, the site has been off limits since its designation as a protected wreck in 1998. The combination of a new wreck to visit and the sheer importance of visiting such a historic wreck generated a lot of interest from within the club. In 2006 when we had enough qualified members to carry out survey work - some are NAS trained while others hold the Marine Conservation Society's "Seasearch" survey qualifications - we were able to survey the wreck. The survey was divided it two main areas: the hull structure and the marine life found on the hull.
SSAC Diving Officer Martin Davies is the licensee.