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Diving the Gibel Hamam

The SS Gibel Hamam is a relatively small wreck (60m) and lies around 30m to 35m off water. She is split into two section and lies nearly perfectly north to south.  The torpedo split her into two sections, which explains the reason she sank so quickly with such a heavy loss of life.

 

The skipper will tell you during the brief, the wreck is privately owned and you are not allowed to take anything. Also, even though we have never seen anything, human remains of the 21 crewmen who perished are still aboard – so please treat it with respect. 

 

Gibel Hamam Dive MapThe nicest way to explore this wreck is from bow to stern.  Swim to the bow and follow up on the starboard side and up. You will reach the anchor and winches on top the bow, which allow you to drop onto the bow platform. You can swim into the foc’sle if you wish, just be careful it is extremely silty. Upon exiting, behind the winch, you can make out the coal cargo hold, which abruptly stops where the torpedo hit it. At that point, you drop down to the bottom and swim a few meters south.

 

The area is covered with varies bits (if you search you can find cutlery and portholes, etc). This area is likely to have been the captains cabin and bridge area, but nothing remains. You will notice the rear section listing to starboard.

 

Swimming along you will find the boiler and a bit further the engine pokes out. The area is covered with machinery and other wreckage, making it impossible to penetrate. You can now swim over the rear coal hold and drop of the rear, passing the steering gear, down to the rudder.

 

History

The Gibel Hamam was build in 1895 in Newcastle and was originally christened the Bamburgh . Her 647 Grt made a small costal steam ship and she was fitted out with an 90 h.p. triple expansion engine giving a her cruising speed of 8.5 knots. She was renamed the Gibel Haman by their owners Bland M.H. & Co (Gibraltar) to SS Gibel Hamam (as Bamburgh just sounded too German).

 

On her last voyage, crewed by 22 men, she had picked up coal from Wales, destined for France. She had been hugging the south coast to avoid the U-boats, when at 9:30 p.m. on 14th September 1918, the UB103 (Kommandeur Paul Hindius) or the UB104 (Kommandeur Thomas Bieber) are likely to have sunk her.  However, as neither U-Boots made it back to report it, we are unlikely ever to know. 

 

What we do know, the single torpedo hit the port side amidships, the explosion was so big that only the helmsman survived, who made it ashore at Abbotsbury the next morning.  

Key numbers

Dive type: Wreck

Length: 55m

Depth:  31m (deck) to 36m

Visibility: 10m

Location: 50°35.85'N, 02°52.95'W

Difficulty: 3 Star Rating

Dive: 4 Star Rating

 

Pictures
Gibel Hamam
Dive Log

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Gibel Hamam Log Book

Gibel Hamam

Posted on 4/22/2012 by SDA Editor

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