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[[Image:The Wreck of the Birkenhead.jpg|thumb|400px|Painting of the wrecking of the Birkenhead]]
[[Image:Wreck of the Birkenhead.jpg|thumb|The soldiers standing in ranks while the boats were loaded]]
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[[Image:The Birkenhead-Troopship.jpg|thumb|HMS Birkenhead]]
The name "HMS Birkenhead" is the name of the ship wrecked on 26 February 1852 at this site
| Construction || align=right | || || Iron
| Ship class ||
aligh=right | || || Frigate, later troopship
| Propulsion || align=right | || || Sail, plus
2x Forrester & Co steam engines driving 6m paddle wheels
| Speed || align=right | 10 || || kt as troopship
Maximum depth is about 28m. and the top of the adjacent reef is about (depth)m.
(Average depth on the wreckage is likely to be about 25m. )
Visibility will vary, but may exceed 15m on a good day. Visibility at depth may differ considerably from nearer the surface, but you will not know until you dive.
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Large sandstone reef to the south east of the wreckage (Birkenhead Rock ) sloping down to about 27m at the edge of the sand . Edge of sand runs roughly east-west magnetic. Bottom is fairly flat to the north, and is sandy patches and low rock reef with scattered wreckage . The paddle wheels and shafts are clustered in much the same alignment as when on the ship, with a boiler between them .
The engines are piled on top of each other at the edge of the reef and sand. They are recognisable from the illustration in Allan Kayle's book “Salvage of the Birkenhead”, but differ from the illustration in some details.
Information is needed on what weather conditions are best for diving this site. <!--The site is exposed to (weather/sea condition), so should be dived in (weather/sea condition), and is often good in (weather/sea condition). The site is reasonably protected from (weather/sea condition), but if (weather/sea condition occurs) then (response to weather/sea condition)-->
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[[Image:Noble corals on the reef at the Birkenhead DSC00501.JPG|thumb|Noble coral is common on the reef]]
[[Image:Invertebrate growth on the wreck of the Birkenhead DSC00506.JPG|thumb|parts of the wreck are heavily encrusted with invertebrates]]
<!--General description of biota. Substitute “Aquatic life” for fresh water sites--> Lots of sponges, colonial ascidians and small sea fans . There are large numbers of noble corals on the reefs nearby .
[[Image:Paddle wheel shaft and hub DSC00491.JPG|thumb|Paddle wheel hub and shaft at the wreck of the Birkenhead]]
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.
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If a large swell is running, there
may be a break at the rock. This could be dangerous to the boat, and it should stay clear, however in those conditions there may also be strong surge on the wreck and poor visibility.
The site is near to one of the world hotspots for the Great White shark. This may be considered a hazard, and the reports of survivors indicated that many of the shipwrecked crew and passengers were taken by sharks. Most Scuba divers report that they have seen no sharks during the dive, nevertheless this may not be the best place to dive in low visibility. It is also recommended not to spend a long time at the surface, or to plan to do long decompression stops.
There may be slight currents, and the biggest hazard from this is not finding the wreck.
This is a wreck that is not easy to get to, so it is desirable to maximise your dive time by using Nitrox. It is also recommended to carry a compass, and a DSM to alert the boat that you are surfacing, so it can pick you up without a long delay on the surface.
The Wikipedia article includes a substantial list of references
Back to [[Diving in South Africa#Gansbaai]]