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Diving the Aeolian Sky

The Aeolian Sky is one the more modern wrecks in the English Channel. She is massive and with nearly a 150m bow to stern, it is easy to dive her several times and still not have had enough time to dive her.

The shape of the wreck can be slightly disorienting as she was originally nearly 22m wide, but her structure is now only 12 to 14m wide. Salvage and blast work after she sunk has tortured her starboard hull plates into a quite a large mess. Nevertheless, once you got the general layout, it is easy to navigate her.


Aeolian Sky Dive MapThe skipper will have to use his sonar and GPS locator to find the wreck and slack time is short, you tend not get more than about 30 minutes on the wreck before the current really picks up again. Our suggestion is to dive either the bow or the stern if it is you first dive on her. After descending on her (and if you decide not to penetrate her, put up your SMB, so the skipper can follow you easily on such a large wreck)


The bow is still quite intact, you can see the hull plates "undulate", a result from the explosions to compress the hull. You will find the anchor and anchor winch. Drop down along the anchor winch to the bottom and you will find a Land Rover chassis. Following the bow around you will find a large truck chassis lying in the sand. You can use the wreck as a shelter against the current and slowly swim along the wreck. You will come across two forward mast from the front derricks. Near the derricks, slightly to the bow is another Land Rover chassis. Further along is the central mast, a massive 3m diameter, which can't really be missed.  Just behind the main mast, the floor is littered with steel tubes, which was quite a bit of her cargo.


Following her from the stern side, you can drop on to her rear deck, a large winch sits on the back. If you follow her around to the prop-shaft, the hull plates have separated allowing easy access to the engine room if you desire it. Alternatively, you can enter the engine room at the foot of the funnel via her exhaust. From the engine room you can follow her up via the crew cabins, all the way to the bridge (it is advisable to reel yourself in and out of the wreck). According to the manifest, she carried a £1 million of Seychelles Rupees, which were never recovered, and supposedly stored in the sick bay (upper deck just below the funnel). Leaving the bridge you can follow her along two of her large cargo bays before finding the central mast. Most of her cargo is still in the wreck, but it is completely mangled, making access to her cargo area quite difficult.

History

The Aeolian Sky is was built by Hashihama Zosen, Japan and she was launched in 1978. At 10,715 grt, 148.7m long and 21.9m wide, she was one of the newest self loading cargo vessels. She has four large holds and her large derricks clearly visible - allowing her to enter all the larger harbours in the world.


The Aeolian Sky was owned by the Greek Proteus Maritime Shipping Company and was sailing from Hull (UK) via Rotterdam (Netherlands) to Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) via Aden (Yemen). Her cargo trucks, Land Rovers, electric railway locomotives and a million pounds worth of Seychelles Rupees (by the way the Seychelles government has cancelled the currency - so it worthless if it is ever found). She was close to Guernsey when she collided during dense fog and storm at 4:30 a.m. with the 2,400 tonnes German Anna Knüppel. The Anna Knüppel was virtually unscathed, but the Aeolian Sky hold 1 was flooded. 


A French tug was ordered from Cherbourg, with the aim to bring her into port for repairs. The Aeolian Sky was being pulled across the channel with the aim to bring her into Portsmouth or Southampton. Along the way, when reaching the UK coast, she started experience engine problems and a Royal Navy helicopter evacuated the majority of the crew. As she was seriously floundering and when bulkhead 2 broke and started to take on more water, the port authorities declined permission for her to enter, as they were afraid that it could block the harbour entrance. The weather continued to deteriorate and the decision was made to wait out the storm in Portland Harbour, but with the poor weather and lack of power, she took on too much water and started to sink. She was 12 miles away from Portland when the tug had to cut her loose and she sank below the waves.


She settled on her port side and her starboard side was only 9m below the surface, making her a serious risk to shipping. Some salvage work and explosives lowered her to 18m.

Key numbers

Dive type: Wreck

Length: 148m

Depth:  18m (top deck) to 32m

Visibility: 2m to 15m

Location: 50°30.57N, 2°8.43W

Difficulty: 3 Stars

Dive: 4 Stars

Pictures
Aeolian Sky
Dive Log

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Aeolian Sky Log Book