Diving in Scapa Flow

Exploring the Kaiser’s Sunken World War I Fleet

By Linus Geschke (reproduced from SPIEGLE ONLINE)

Horst with kitIt’s a descent into history. The remains of the German Imperial Fleet still lie on the seabed at Scapa Flow off Scotland’s Orkney Islands where the Germans scuttled their ships in 1919. The ice-cold, deep waters are a paradise for professional wreck divers.

Bulky diving cylinders, decompression equipment and diving suits: the deck of the vessel Loyal Mediator is cluttered with all the things the wreck divers need.

"Dives in Scapa Flow aren’t for beginners," says Horst Dederichs, director of SDI, TDI in Germany. "Some of the warships lie fairly deep down, the water temperature is just 9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit) and you can get dangerous currents at the edge of the bay."

The 39-year-old historian and diving instructor is one of Europe’s leading experts on exploring underwater wrecks. He was the first German to explore the wreck of the Lusitania at a depth of 93 meters (305 feet) below the surface of the Irish Sea. Dederichs regards Scapa Flow as Europe’s most interesting wreck diving area. There’s no other location where you find so many ships so close together.

 

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