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Diving in South Africa/HMS Birkenhead wreck

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Diving in South Africa : HMS Birkenhead wreck
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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.


Contemporary painting of the wreck of the Birkenhead


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.


The name "HMS Birkenhead" is the name of the ship wrecked at this site


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


Geology: Ordovician sandstones of the Peninsula formation.


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


Marine life


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.


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




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