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Diving the Carantan

The Carantan has seriously collapsed since her demise in 1943, but she is still a lovely wreck to dive with many interesting features. Plagued by strong currents and low visibility, she can be quite challenging. At 40m length she is quite a small wreck and is easily explored in an hours dive.

Carantan Submarine Hunter Dive Map


The skipper is likely to drop the line near the engine room or prop-shaft, which allows you to do a perfect swim around. She lies on her port side, with the bottom usually around the 29m mark and the top of the wreck at 23m. Swim towards the rear and find the large exposed prop-shaft sitting on its support. The propellers have been salvaged after she sunk. If you drop down from the prop-shaft and follow the wreck away you will find the Y-gun - used to fire the depth charges. Just beyond it are supposedly a number of unexploded depth charges, but I have never seen them.


Swimming away from the Y-gun along the exposed hull section you will see on the bottom the rear AA-gun. A large radiator lies a few metres in front of it. Follow the hull, across a debris field of steel plates, you will come across the front gunning platform - the gun has been salvaged, but platform with the ammunition shaft is still visible. 


Just ahead of that (about 5m) you will come across the front winch - which is well exposed and very visible, observe that the front winch is actually located on its own platform which is connected to the bottom of the hull. Swim up the platform and find the upper support and follow it to the hull. You now can follow the hull back to mid-ship - a large section has completely dropped away. Just beyond the gap you will see the electrical generator and the diesel engine - much larger than a ship of this size actually needed, but the extra power was needed to run all the submarine hunting equipment. From here it is easy to launch your SMB and make yourself to the surface.


History

Her history is a bit sketchy, the Carentan (or Carantan) was build in 1940 by Forges & Chantiers De La Mediterranee for the French National Navy. Initially destined to patrol the Mediterranean, she was confiscated by the British Admiralty at the fall of France and was used as an escort and submarine chaser. She was fitted out with a 75mm field gun, a 2-pounder, 2 20mm Swiss Oerlikons cannon (still used today), four machine guns and depth charges.


Her 1,100 horse power engine allowed her to cruise at 16 knots and turn very quickly. In December 1943 she was escorting the submarine HMS Rorqual from Portland to Needles when during south-westerly gales she capsized and sank quickly. Only 6 of the crew could be saved and according to records either 17 or 21 Free French sailors died. 


She is classified as a war grave according to the registered wreck database. Divers have reported seeing bones on her from the sailors who died. Therefore, the site should be respected and not disturbed. In addition, there is a large amount of life ammunition lying around from depth charges, to bullets, shells and grenades. 


 

Key numbers

Dive type: Wreck

Length: 40m

Depth:  23m to 29m

Visibility: 2 to 5 m

Location: 50°34.99'N, 1°56.22'W 

Difficulty: 2 Stars

Dive: 3 Stars

 

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Dive Log

Download a free log book page of this dive

Carantan Log Book