Diving>Orkney North Isles
Orkney North Isles
The North Isles of Orkney have a different character to Scapa Flow diving, with smaller but more numerous freighters, mail ships, warships and fishing boats. War casualties lie to the East and West of the Isles and tend to be in deeper water while the rocks of the inner isles have claimed many victims with loads to dive close inshore.
Scenic dives are not to be forgotten with many great sites just waiting to be explored.
(Max depth 62m) The Remus was a small, 1079 ton collier that was mined by UC59 to the East of Orkney on February 23rd 1918. Discovered and dived for the first time in May 2008 by a team on the Valkyrie. The wreck of the 67m long vessel lies in one piece with the boilers prominent at the stern.
(Max depth 58m) The 5750 ton RFA tanker Daghestan was torpedoed by U57 on the 25th March, 1940 on her regular run from Shetland along the East coast of Orkney. The large wreck is largely intact and makes a great dive when conditions permit.
(Max depth 65m) Heavily attacked during an air raid on her convoy in March 1940, the 2000 ton, 85m long Giralda sank to the East of Orkney. All of her crew were lost in the attack. The wreck lies in two sections close together in 65 meters of water.
(Max depth 67m) The 1200 ton Collier was damaged during air attacks to the East of Orkney in March 1940 and sank after an explosion ripped her apart while under tow by the salvage tug “St Mellons”.
Properly identified by a team on the Valkyrie in June 2008 the wreck lies complete but with the hull badly broken by the explosion.
HM Yacht Zarefah
(Max depth 45m) The luxury yacht Zarefah was taken into service as a minesweeper in 1914 but struck a mine laid by UC31 in May 1917. Discovered by the Diveboat Jean Elaine in 2002 the wreck is broken and close inshore near to the East coast of Orkney and is lying on a bed of firm white sand.
(Max depth 43m) The 4020 ton Steamship Cotovia was mined by UC49 in July 1917. This is a great wreck dive with many recognisable features however the hull is flattened onto the sand with the engine and boilers as the highest points.
(Max depth 18m) The Steam Tug Oceana foundered in Mill Bay near the island of Eday after a collision. The wreck was lightly salvaged just after her sinking in 1915 to remove her armament and she now lies in 3 sections close inshore. There are good swim throughs in the 32 m wreck and visibility is generally good.
(Max depth 15m) The 4200 ton, Aorangi was a beautiful steamship that plied between the UK, Canada and New Zealand. Sunk as a blockship in 1915 she sits on the Kirk Rocks on the East side of Orkney. The hull is broken due to its shallow depth but much that is recognisable remains.
(Max depth 15m) This 3,200 ton tanker, was lost on the Skea Skerries to the West of Orkney in October 1915 while coming in to Kirkwall for inspection. She now sits broken but identifiable in 14 meters of water.
(Max depth 15m) The 6200 ton Panamanian Steamship Bellavista grounded on the shores of Papa Westray in Northern Orkney in July 1948 while carrying iron ore. .Now lying broken in 10-15meters the site offers a huge rummage dive on the debris.
(Max depth 55m) Mined by UC49 in June 1917 off the West of Orkney, the 1200 ton Steamship Tosto sank quickly in 55meters. She lies with the bow and stern intact and the boilers and engine clearly visible. Visibility here is usually good but the Atlantic swell often adds to the difficulty of the dive.
MFV Kingston Turquoise
(Max depth 62m) The large side netter fishing vessel Kingston Torquoise (H45)of Hull, foundered at the North Shoal some 15 miles west of Orkney on the 25th of January 1965. The wreck now lies in 60m
(Max depth 42m) The Motor cargo vessel Manina foundered on Sule Stack 36 miles West of Orkney during a storm in 1968. Close to the isolated rocks the ship lies with midships in 14, bow in 35 and stern in 42meters. A fair weather trip to the Sule is always an adventure and the outstanding offshore visibility can make this a very special dive.
(Max depth 40m) This Grimsby Trawler grounded at Costa Head on the West side of Orkney in 1922 while returning home from fishing. She foundered in 40meters of water close to the cliffs that sunk her. The 245 ton wreck is well broken but makes for an excellent dive.
(Max depth 27m) The boom defence vessel Endeavour sank in 1918 after hitting the boom off Kirkwall. She now lies almost intact in an area of strong tides close to Kirkwall port.
HMD Loch Garry
(Max depth 25m) The boom defence vessel Loch Garry sank at her moorings after a collision in 1916. Now lying in the tidal flow but sheltered by the islands she makes a good dive close to Kirkwall.
SS Loch Maddy
(Max depth 15m) Located in the sheltered Inganess Bay, this is the stern section of a large 5000 ton freighter that was torpedoed in February 1940.
The wreck still has part of her cargo of Oregon pine in the hold. The bow sank after the ship broke in two and has not yet been found.
(Max depth 21m) The Swiftsure left Kirkwall with a cargo of wood in September 1917 and was only a few miles from port when she hit a mine laid by UC40 and sank in the channel. The wreck is scoured by sand but many features can still be made out including her engine and boilers. A slack water dive only.
Grumman Avenger torpedo bomber
The remains of this WW11 single engined aircraft lie close to Kirkwall in shallow water. Although the site is a little silty, the aircraft is easily recognised and provides a small sheltered site with loads of interest for everyone.
(Max depth 32m) A modern twin rig steel trawler, the Elegance sank under tow following a fire in 2004 in the Stronsay Firth, some 5 miles from Kirkwall close to the island of Shapinsay. Now the vessel lies almost upright in about 31m of water with the wheelhouse, working deck and fish plant all accessible.
MV VALHALLA HAS ARRIVED!
The Valhalla was built for the Royal Navy in 1972 as RNAS Loyal Factor but was quickly converted into a patrol boat and commissioned as HMS Vigilant to serve in Northern Ireland where she remained until the 1990s when she was handed back to the RNAS in Gosport to serve as Sultan Venturer – the training ship for HMS Sultan – the RN school of engineering. Bought in 2012 she has been converted into a “go anywhere” expedition liveaboard diving vessel with awesome seakeeping abilities and a luxurious interior.