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Diving in South Africa/HMS Birkenhead wreck

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Scuba diving : Diving in South Africa : HMS Birkenhead wreck
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The dive site HMS Birkenhead or just The Birkenhead is an offshore historical wreck on the rocky reef at Birkenhead Rock to the south west of Danger Point, near Gansbaai in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Understand

Contemporary painting of the wrecking of the Birkenhead
The Wreck of the Birkenhead.jpg


Position

S34°38.654' E019°17.155' (boiler)


This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2004) and a closed area. A special permit is required.


Name

HMS Birkenhead

The name "HMS Birkenhead" is the name of the ship wrecked on 26 February 1852 at this site

Specifications
Designed displacement 1918 tons
Loaded displacement 2000 tons
Length 64 .0 m
Beam 11 .4 m
Draught 4 .8 m
Rig Built as a brig, later rerigged as a barquentine
Masts 3
Crew 125
Date of launch 30 December 1845
Construction iron
Ship class Frigate, later troopship
Propulsion Sail, plus 2x Forrester & Co steam engines driving 6m paddle wheels
Speed 10 kt as troopship
Armament 2 96-pounder pivot guns
4 68-pounder broadside guns
Builder John Laird shipyard, Birkenhead


Depth

Maximum depth is about 28m. and the top of the adjacent reef is about (depth)m. (Average depth is likely to be about 25m.)


Topography

Geology: Ordovician sandstones of the Peninsula formation.

Conditions

Get in

This is a boat dive, as it is about 1.5km from the nearest shore. The usual access is from Gansbaai harbour, where there is a good commercial slipway available to the public. The alternative launch site at Kleinbaai on the other side of the Danger Point peninsula is slightly closer, but a less protected slipway.

The site is about 10.5km from Gansbaai harbour, or 8.5km from Kleinbaai slipway



See

Marine life

Features

Scattered wreckage of a historical wreck of great cultural significance. The wreckage includes remains of the paddle wheels, boiler and engine, which is a very early model and quite interesting in design. There are also a few anchors, cannon and similar generic type artifacts.

Photography

The site is fairly deep, and lighting is likely to be poor. The wreckage is generally fairly large items, which require a wide angle lens to fit them in the picture without losing too much detail, and powerful external strobes are recommended. Natural light photos may be acceptable if the visibility is good and the lighting better than usual, but it is likely that not much detail will be picked up. Macro photography will produce adequate results on small subjects, but these are not why you dive this site. You dive here to see the wreck, so try to get some photos of it. You may be lucky.

Video will produce best results with a wide angle lens, and preferably powerful lights.

Suggested Routes

Stay safe

Hazards

Skills

Equipment

See also

The Wikipedia article includes a substantial list of references http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Birkenhead_(1845)


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