Somali Dive

14th June 2009

by Richard Booth

It was an early start from Beadnel to reach the site of the Somali in order to catch slack water, but this effort turned out to be well worth the effort.

Arriving on site it was evident that many other divers had had the same idea as we were greeted by a veritable armada of RIBs and local dive charter boats jostling for space above the wreck.

Blue skies and bright sunshine offered the promise of good light levels down on the wreck 30 metres below the surface.

The SS Somali was launched in 1930 In late March 1941 she was on passage from London to Hong Kong when she was attacked by German aircraft off the Northumberland coast. Desperate efforts were made to save her, but she sank on the 27 th March after a huge explosion sent a huge plume of smoke into the sky and rained debris down onto the village of Beadnel , a distance of nearly a mile from where the Somali went down .

For many years she rested on the seabed, upright and largely intact. More recently however efforts to salvage her cargo have resulted in this wreck being ripped apart.

Whilst not the dive she once was, the Somali is still worth visiting. The area around her engine room is particularly impressive with several huge boilers and the remains of her massive steam engines still very much in evidence.

The wreck also acts as a magnet for marine life with numerous large Pollack and Cod being observed hunting above the wreckage.

A close eye has to be kept on your computer as it is all too easy to lose track of time such is the scale of the wreck combined with its relative depth; 20 minutes passes too quickly and you can quickly run up deco time. Its depth of 30 metres also makes it an ideal dive for nitrox.

It is however a slack water dive and the combination of its depth, the potential of strong tidal currents and exposed position, makes it a dive for the more experienced.

Indeed on this occasion, an unknown diver suddenly breached the surface after making a rapid ascent from depth. He was assisted back to his club RIB however the outcome of this incident is not known.

Back on board the Tyneside RIB, once everyone was safely recovered we headed off down the coast to look for the wreck of the steamship Ballycotton which was lost off Newton .

A series of dives was made off Embleton Point, with only a large riveted plate being found

We were clearly close to the wreck, but not close enough. Nevertheless we enjoyed exploring the scenic gull’s and the strange rock formations that we came across on the seabed in this area. All in all, another good days diving was had by all.