Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay/SAS Good Hope
The dive site SAS Good Hope is a recent wreck in the Smitswinkel Bay area on the Cape Peninsula side of False Bay, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Information is provided which may assist in planning Recreational and Research Scuba diving at this site, and links to photographs of marine organisms that have been found there.
(reasons to dive at this site)
Name "SAS Good Hope"
HMSAS Good Hope was one of three Loch class frigates transferred to South African naval forces while under construction. The ship was laid down in November 1943 as HMS Loch Boisdale, and was launched at Blyth on 5th July 1944 as HMSAS Good Hope and went into service on 9th November 1944. The vessel saw service as a convoy escort during the closing stages of World War II and was for many years the flagship of the S A Navy. The ship was sold for scrap and scuttled by explosive charges in Smitswinkel Bay to form an artificial reef at 3.45 pm on June 18th 1978 and sank in 5 minutes.
S34°16.105’ E018°28.851’ (Bow)
S34°16.054’ E018°28.850’ (Stern)
The SAS Good Hope is the second from southernmost of the 5 wrecks in Smitswinkel bay.
This site is in a Marine Protected Area (2009)
This site is only accessible by boat. Usually from the slipway at Miller's Point.
The site is exposed to swell from the south east, and to a certain extent, from the south west. Longer period swell will make conditions on the wrecks uncomfortable or hazardous due to strong surge, but short period waves will just make it uncomfortable on the boat. Visibility is less predictable, and at this time is largely a matter of luck and reports from divers who were in the area recently.
The site is usually at it's best in winter but there are also occasional opportunities at other times of the year, though least often in summer, when the south east wind tends to blow much of the time.
Maximum depth is about 36m on the sand, main deck about 25m
Flat fine white sand.
The wreck lies upright on a flat sand bottom with bows to the south. The wreck of trawler Princess Elizabeth about 10m off to starboard about 20m forward of the transom. Most of the hull plating ha rusted away on the quarter deck leaving mainly frames. The wreck has deteriorated markedly since 2004. The mast has fallen and is lying over the starboard side. The main deck has partly collapsed and has caved into the wreck, still attached along the sheer line.
The structure has become unstable due to corrosion, and there is a risk of collapse if there is a strong surge. Penetrations should be planned with this risk in mind.
Scorpion fish have been seen on the wrecks, and are well camouflaged. Their spines carry a dangerous venom.
Certification appropriate to the depth is expected. Some level of training or experience in wreck diving is recommended, and penetration should only be attempted by suitably competent divers after reconnaisance and appropriate planning.
(photographic equipment suggestions)
Equipment appropriate for the depth should be used. Nitrox is recommended for those competent to use it. A light is strongly recommended, and penetration should not be attempted without the appropriate equipment and planning. If you are not entirely certain what this would be, you are not competent to do the penetration.
Marine life (and features)
The wreck is too deep for much seaweed, but it is heavily encrusted with invertebrates, some of which are seldom seen aywhere else but the Smits wrecks.
Use a shot line or anchor line if possible to control ascent rate and the place where you will surface. For your first dive on this wreck there is enough to see just swimming around the perimeter and over the deck.
Penetrations should be planned taking into account the structural state of the vessel. Significant structural collapse has recently occurred without any obvious warning signs, and further collapse may occur at any time. Enter at your own risk.
Views of the site.