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Diving the Moidart

Countess of Erne Dive MapThe Moidart is a perfect wreck for those who wish to extend their depth and wreck experience. Standing upright and split in two with a lot of identifiable features. The skippers tend to drop the line in the middle of the wreck. Often near hold two and the bridge. 


Swim along the port side and make yourself to the front of the wreck by swimming over Hold 2. Passing Hold 2 a large cargo winch is clearly visible. Just beyond you will find Hold 1. You can swim up to forecastle and have a look at the anchor winch.


The most easily identifiable features are the anchor winch on the bow. Follow the line of the boat back by swimming along the starboard side. You will come back to central section, a large raised box area is the base for the wheelhouse. Just behind it you will find Hold 3 and a large single boiler. 


The engine is littered behind the boiler and you will find a lot of debris lying around, leftover from the torpedo that ripped her apart. The stern lies slight off the port side. The easiest way to find it, to follow the boiler and engine of the port side and try to swim straight off the wreck. The floor is littered with hull and steel plates, you will come across a broken winch (likely the rear cargo winch) - just to the right of the cargo winch you will find the rear third of the wreck, lying on its port side. Hold 4 is silted up, but clearly visible. The rear of the wreck has a smoke stack (surprisingly still quite intact). The rudder is visible when you drop over the side. 


Recommendation is to ascend from the rear near the smokestack, release your SMB here (it is also the shallowest section of the wreck) and make yourself back to the surface.

History

The Moidart is a typical late 19th century collier. She was built in 1878 in Sunderland and was equipped with a 2 cylinder compound engine. She was designed to carry industrial goods and coal between the northern English ports and the coastal cities in the South and across the channel. 


At 72m length and 11m width with her 156 horse power engine, she was a workhorse ploughing the coast at a steady 11 to 12 knots. She could carry nearly 1700 tonnes of cargo. Her normal crew compliment is 19. During the later stages of the war she was equipped with a gun on the stern and her crew was extended by giving her to Royal Navy gunners. 


On her last voyage, Captain George Skea was crossing Lyme Bay. It was the early morning hours of the 9th June 1918 and the Captain was plotting out the route to cross the channel to France, to deliver her cargo of coal and steel to Northern France to support the war. All of the sudden the German UC77 under command of Oberleutnant Johannes Ries surfaced 400m away, the torpedo struck a minute later, giving no time for either the gunner or the helmsman to take evasive action.


The explosion tore the Moidart into two and she started sinking immediately and sunk within a few minutes. The crew lucky enough to be awake where able to jump into the water, but most of the crew were trapped in the boat. The submarine came closer and talked to the surviving crew members wanting to know the vessel, but as it was the rule of the submarines, they refused to take any survivors on board. Eventually, the survivors were able to find an upside down lifeboat and they held on to it for the rest of the night and early morning until the Clifton Grove, a passing steamer picked them up. There were only six survivors. 


Oberleutnant Ries and his crew of 30 died on the 14th July 1918 hitting a mine near the Flanders Coast. It is believed that the wreck on Fairy Bank is the UC77, but this has not be verified.

Key numbers

Dive type: Wreck

Length: 72m

Depth:  27m - 33m

Visibility: 3m - 10m

Location: 50°34.04N, 2°47.29W 

Difficulty: 1 star

Dive: 3 star

 

Pictures

The Moidart

Dive Log

Download a free log book page of this dive

The Moidart Log Book