Trip Report 20-24 April

HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales, South China Sea, Malaysia.
For full specs of these World War II ships, please click here – HMS Repluse and HMS Prince of Wales

It was the first technical diving trip for The Ark since its arrival in Singapore. Everyone was early arriving at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT), Singapore (Tobias even arrived the day before in his eagerness) and Andy’s kids were running a muck as usual.  Paul arrived as always, a few minutes late. We left TMFT only to turn around again to pick up some very valuable supplies left behind on the dock.

On this trip we had, Suzanne, Tobias, Paul, JB, Scott, Andy, James, AJ, Cedric and Shin.  5 CCR’s and 6 Open circuit divers including me.

We rounded the corner at Lima Channel and went head-on into a storm with big seas and pouring rain, not the start I was hoping for.  Luckily the saloon had a DVD player so we all moved inside to ride out the storm and watch a movie or two.  We had 15 hours of cruising time to the HMS Repulse, so plenty of movies were in order.

We finally made it to the Repulse around 1pm, only to find my line I left last week was not visible, either removed by fisherman, or dragged under water by the current or the float was damaged and sank.  We soon discovered it was the latter.

We did a total of 5 dives on the Repulse over a day and a half, the viz on the wreck was a bit off due to a bloom of silt covering the wreck.  Although the viz was not great, at about 10m, it is still an awesome wreck.  Most people did not care too much about the lack of viz and explored everything the Repulse had to offer. The small guns, the big guns, the ammunition and all the other rusty bits we all so much enjoy seeing.

The bow is always an awesome sight.  The best way to see it is to kneel in the sand at 55m and look up and it just appears to go on forever.  Although this week, it was not as spectacular due to the viz, but still worth the damn long swim to get there.

After the 5 dives on the Repulse we headed to the HMS Prince of Wales (POW). I have dived the POW a couple of times before but always around the stern.  I was happy to hear that we were tied onto the bow.  The POW is completely upside down, so the best way to see it, is right on the sand at 70m and swim under the bow.  The bow is off about 5-8m off the sand, so there is plenty of room to swim under and to have a good look at the huge guns.  There are 4 mid sized guns, but only two are viewable the other two are under the sand.  The two big guns are just out of this world, they would have to be the biggest I have ever seen.  The viz on the second dive was the best all week and most people agreed it was the best dive of the week.   We did two dives on the POW and headed south towards the Maritime Fidelity.

We arrived around 7.30am to awesome conditions, flat seas and not much current.  We saw a whaleshark.  Can you believe that we saw a whaleshark at the Maritime Fidelity?  Well we did, but unfortunately it was caught in a fishing net and was dead.  A small baby whaleshark about 3-4 m long, met its doom due to human fishing.  One day we will learn.

AJ, James and I spent 35 minutes in the engine room and surrounding areas, basically the whole time inside the wreck.  There is so much to see, engines, boilers, generators, gauges, tools, fire fighting gear, drink machines and couple of storage tanks including the sewage tanks.  I hope it does not burst open next time I’m there.

We came out of the engine room onto the deck, where the viz was about 5 m.  We looked for the line for about 10 minutes and could not find it.  I had my directions all back to front.  Doh!  We ascended up the line attached to the fishing line to 21m to do our deco and then decided to go up to 6m on the same line to switch to 100%.  This is far safer than a drift deco.  On our way up the line near the whaleshark we noticed the main line, transfered over and finished deco on the bars and got out slightly later than our planned 60 minutes.

The second dive was at the super structure.  This time no whalesharks, but plenty of fun to be had poking around in the rooms and wheelhouse.  You could tell where some divers had been due to the silt in the corridors.  So many rooms and not enough time and the silt was kinda thick, so we spent the rest of the time on the outside.

As you can imagine there is a lot of time on the boat during surface intervals and the evenings, so much fun and laughing all night long. Most people did or said something interesting, that it required a nick name.  I not going to tell you who each nick name belongs to as what happens on tour stays on tour.

Nick Names from our Rusty Wreck Trip – Top Shot, Mr Angry, Toby Num Num, The Model, BJ, Gery, Fried Please, Baby Huey, Wee Man, Steam Bath and Fancy Knobs.

All in all, an amazing 4 days of deep technical wreck diving.  We plan to do a similar trip in October.

Cheers Gary.  And thanks to Scott Clegg, JB and Dave for the use of these photos.