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Diving the Salsette

The Salsette is considered by many the best wreck dive on the Dorset coast. It is a massive wreck, over 130m long and only diveable for the more experienced divers as the wreck starboard side is at 32m, and the port side lying on a sandy bottom at 42m and with a short slack time, it can be quite challenging for even the more experienced divers.

You could spend days diving on her, investigating the many access points that have opened up everywhere. However, it is often a tight squeeze and the passages are covered with debris and mud. However, most divers will only get a chance to dive her once and would like to get the most of the single dive. 

Salsette Wreckmap

Ask the skipper to drop a shot line near the rear of the boat. Make yourself down the shot and swim down to the  prop-shaft - the prop is missing and the other prop is covered in silt. The easiest way to appreciate her is to dive along the main deck around the 35m mark. This keeps your deco obligations at a minimum. This allows you to peer into the various deck access points and follow the wreck along. Some of them are quite large and will give you a feeling of what was there. Eventually you will reach the anchor winch and anchor chain at the other end of the wreck.

Depending on your dive time and gas, you deploy the SMB whenever you need it and make yourself back to the surface from there. The current will pick-up quickly and you can easily experience a current of 1.5knots or more at the end of the dive.


The Salsette was built by J. Carid & Co, Glasgow and was operated by the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O). At 134m and 5,842 grt and  fitted out with a quadruple expansion engine made her one of the fastest vessels of her time. She was able to run at 20 knots and held the Blue Riband band for the fastest crossing to New York. 

On her fateful last journey, she was scheduled to sail from London, Marsaille, Suez, Bombay (Mumbai) and then onto Australia. She left London on 17 or 18th July 1919 and was carrying 31 passengers plus crew and 20 tons general cargo.  Oberleutnant  (1st. Lt) Hans Howaldt in command of the UB-40 ran across the Salsette in Lyme Bay. The torpedo hit just in front of the boiler killing a number of the crew. She took on water quickly and Captain Armitage ordered the boat to be abandoned. The boat was evacuated within 5 minutes and none of the remaining passengers or crew died. 

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Posted on 6/16/2012 by Ian Newman

The Salsette is considered to be one of the UK's best wreck dives. At 30m plus and in the middle of the channel she is quite a challenge to dive.

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Key numbers

Dive type: Wreck 

Length: 134m

Depth:  32 to 44m

Visibility: 2m to 10m

Location: 50°29'40"N 2°43'5"W

Difficulty: 5 Stars 
(no wreck penetration)

Dive: 5 Stars


Dive Log

Download a free log book page of this dive

Salsette Log Book