Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/SAS Bloemfontein
This article is a travel topic
The wreck is in quite good condition for its age due to the depth.
S34°14.655’ E018°39.952’ (approximately)
S34°14.462' E018°39.962' (alternative approximation)
This is right in the middle of False Bay.
This site is NOT in a Marine Protected Area. A permit is not required.
The "SAS Bloemfontein" M439 was a sister ship to the SAS Pietermaritzburg and has similar dimensions and layout. This Algerine class Minesweeper was built as HMS Rosamund, and was scuttled on 5th June 1967.
Maximum depth is about 55m in the scour depressions in the sand at the bow and stern. The upper deck is at about 47m.
The ship lies upright on a flat sand bottom and is be substantially intact. The stern area is in fairly good condition, the rudder and shaft brackets are intact and there are a number of interesting details visible on deck and inside the hull. In several places plating has wasted through and the interior is visible.
Geology: Flat sand bottom.
The site is in the middle of False Bay, and is affected by wind and waves from all directions, so can be dived only on the rare occasions when there is very little swell or wind, as the bottom time will be short and this is almost always a decompression dive. Due to the depth the surge is greatly affected by wave period, with short period swells having little effect at the bottom, while longer periods will reach all the way down. Wind chop will have little effect at the bottom, but may make the surface conditions unpleasant or hazardous, and the trip to the site and back is long and will be unconfortable in steep waves or strong wind.
This is an area which often has a significant variation in temperature between the surface and bottom waters, and sometimes a distinct thermocline.
Keep a lookout for times when the sea is flat, the visibility is good and the wind is light. If the wind comes up during a dive, you just have to live with it, so check the forecast on the day.
Only accessible by boat. This site is about the same distance from Simon’s Town (22 km), Gordon’s Bay (20 km), Kalk Bay (24 km) or Miller’s Point (18 km), and it is a matter of convenience which is used. The wreck is not easy to find and the boat should have at least a serviceable echo-sounder and GPS.
No records of marine life are available. (Please help here if you can.)
Steel wreck of World War 2 vintage.
(photographic equipment suggestions)
No particular routes recommended. It is possible to swim around the perimeter of the wreck in 15 minutes.
Cold water possible. Strong winds may develop over a short time. Nitrogen narcosis is likely on air or Nitrox.
Only suitable for divers who have the training, skills and equipment to dive deeper than 50m. Penetrations should only be planned by suitable competent divers who have dived the site recently and assessed the condition of the structure, as it is deteriorating and the stability is questionable.
The dive has been done on air in the past, but appropriate gas mixes are strongly recommended to improve safety and reduce decompression time. Lights are strongly recommended as it is usually fairly dark at these depths. DSMB and spool should be carried by each diver in case of ascent off the shotline. You do not want to get lost on this site, and if the wind comes up the SMB will help the skipper keep track of you.