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Diving the HMS Scylla

The HMS Scylla is currently perceived as the wreck to dive. She has her appeals, but she also has some significant dangers.

Do not enter the wreck unless you are adequately qualified to dive in an overhead closed environment


If you are diving her for the first time, she is an extremely enjoyable wreck to dive from the outside. There are normally three buoys attached to her, at her bow, mid-section just behind the bridge and her stern.


HMS Scylla
  1. Heliport and AA-mounts 
  2. Hanger Funnel (sealed) 
  3. Bridge Missile mount (Exocet) 
  4. Holes cut into her side for easy access
    (Warning! Overhead environment)

When taking divers on a tour for the first time, we suggest the following route:

Descend onto the wreck using the stern line, upon reaching the rear deck orientate yourself and descend down to the rudder if you wish. In majority of the cases, we don’t bother, but swim along the deck and pass the helicopter landing deck.  Ascend to above the hanger and follow the roof of the hanger, you will come across a large cut-out which connects the hanger below. A bit further on, you can drop onto the mid-deck and see where her funnel used to be (it should be covered with a steel mesh – if not, do not enter). 


Follow the deck to the starboard side and drop below on the outside gangway and follow it all the way to the bow deck.  You have the choice now to swim up and have a look at the bridge. If your air is tight, the easiest way now is to ascend using middle buoy, which is easily found on the deck behind the bridge.


If you have enough air, you may wish to drop on the bow deck and follow the slope up all the way to bow and ascend using the bow line. This dive is a good initial exploration dive, especially if you have less experienced divers with you – your maximum depth shouldn’t be more than about 18m, but check with the skipper.


The F71, HMS Scylla, was an Exocet Leander Class frigate. She was the last frigate built in 1968 at the Devonport Royal Dockyard. She saw extensive duty around the world and even after her sinking as an artificial reef just outside of Plymouth.

Her initial duty was in the Mediterranean, where she joined the Western Fleet. During sea trials near Gibraltar, she reached her maximum speed of 30 knots with her two geared steam turbines, which produced 30,000 shp. In 1973, she was became famous for ramming the Icelandic gunboat Aegir during the second "cod wars", a dispute that was resolved in 1976 with the UK capitulating to Icelandic and NATO demands.

In1980, she was used as relief ship in the Cayman Island, after a powerful hurricane hit the islands. She returned to the UK for a major refit, including having Exocet and Sea Wolf missile launchers fitted. This meant she missed the Falklands war and she was used extensively as a guard and patrol ship in the West Indies. 

In the 1990, her duties were to patrol the Southern Atlantic, but her age meant more and more technical started to fail and it became too difficult to keep her seaworthy. She sailed home via South America and the Caribbean before sailing home to Portsmouth. She was decommissioned in 1993 and lay in disrepair until 2004. After several years of negotiating, the was purchased by the National Marine Aquarium, with support of the Regional Development Agency. She was stripped and cleaned, prepared with divers access points and sunk as an artificial reef in Whitsand Bay in 2004.

Key numbers

Dive type: Wreck-artificial reef 

Length: 113m

Depth:  24m

Visibility: 2m to 10m

Location: 50°19.64N 03°15.20W 

Difficulty: 3 Stars 
(no wreck penetration)

Dive: 5 Stars


HMS Scylla
Dive Log

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HMS Scylla Log Book


HMS Scylla

Posted on 4/22/2012 by SDA Editor

The HMS Scylla - the UK most famous wreck - this Exocet Leander Class frigate has been sunk as an artificial reef just outside of Plymouth harbour.

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