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Diving the Empress of India
Empress of India

The Empress of India is a large wreck to dive. Penetration is not recommended, as the passage ways are very tight and covered in mud. Her age makes penetration very dangerous as large section inside the wreck have started to collapse.


However, it is not necessary to go inside her. She still makes a fantastic dive. The skipper is likely to drop the shot-line either on the bow or stern. Descend onto her and make yourself down the side until you can see the catwalk (which goes along nearly from stern to bow). 


Along the way are a number of interesting items to look at and peer inside the wreck - the gun casing, which used to house the smaller guns (one of them can be seen lying in the sand below), the large holes left behind by the salvage crews. The holes allow you to swim slightly insight the wreck - have a look at the armour plating is absolutely thick. At the rudder, there are the two prop-shafts. If you can swim along the top of the wreck (around the 32m) - you can see the large bilge keels (both left and right side of the wreck - a fairly new invention at the time which aimed at increasing ships stability)

History

The Empress of India was a large battleship - she was 116m long, 23m wide and displayed about 16,000 tonnes. The Admiralty built 8 of these vessels in attempt to improve armaments and range compared to the Trafalgar class battleships, which proved only to work in the relative calm of the Mediterranean. 


The new class of Royal Sovereign were large (2,000 tonnes more) and carried 15 more guns, plus 2 additional torpedo tubes. The Empress of India was launched in 1891, armed with 42 guns and twin tripe expansion engine and 8 boilers, allowing her reach a top speed of 17.5 knots. She needed a crew of 712 making her extremely crammed for most sailors. With the launch of the dreadnoughts in 1906, the ship was obsolete in both armaments and speed. The admiralty stripped her down, removed the props and most of the guns and pulled her out into Lyme Bay as target practice in 1913.


Her own shells were used on her. A shell set her on fire and a shell fired from a dreadnought hit her just below the waterline (where the armour plating is thinner). The flooded quickly and turned over and sank. She settled upside down on the seabed. A salvage company bought the rights and salvaged her condensers (the reasons for the large holes near the engine room).

Key numbers

Dive type: Wreck - battleship

Length: 116m

Depth:  35m - 48m

Visibility: 2 to 5m

Location: 50°29.70N, 2°57.90W 

Difficulty: 4 Stars

Dive: 4 Stars

Pictures
Dive Log

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Empress of India Log