This early twentieth century French steamship has loads to curiosity divers, however due to its place within the Decrease Clyde you gained’t end up crowded out, says JOHN LIDDIARD. Illustration by MAX ELLIS
The Clyde and its approaches has been a serious delivery space all through historical past. From previous picket crusing ships by means of to among the earliest Victorian paddle-steamers, steamships, warships and trendy bulk-carrying monster cargo ships, it’s hardly shocking that it’s dwelling to a wealth of wrecks.
Within the Decrease Clyde space, the Longwy is likely one of the better-known, but it’s nonetheless barely dived in contrast with wrecks in different elements of the nation. If the decrease Clyde have been off the Sussex coast, wrecks just like the Longwy can be swarming with divers.
The Longwy was a French steamship, torpedoed by a U-boat in November 1917. The ship went down on an excellent keel about 3 miles north of Corsewall Level. Since then, the wreck will need to have been salvaged as a result of the deck and sides of the hull have collapsed, and most of it’s only a metre or two above the seabed.
The boilers and engine (1) are the one elements of the Longwy that basically stand out on an echo-sounder, rising to 22m from a 27m seabed. That is the best place to drop a shot, and it’s the place this month’s Wreck Tour begins.
The visibility right here will be variable. In an effort to get your orientation, keep on prime of one of many boilers till you discover a round flue. That is closest to the entrance of the boiler.
Dropping down the entrance of the boilers, there are two stoking holes to every one on the backside. On the ground of the wreck are the same old bits of particles, typical of the overall litter discovered round a boiler-room.
Trying ahead, you need to be capable of see the upright girders of a damaged bulkhead. Resting towards the foot of this bulkhead and throughout the wreck is a small donkey boiler (2), used to supply steam for the ship’s auxiliary equipment and mills when the principle boilers weren’t lit.
Up shut, the girders of the bulkhead carry a powerful array of plumose anemones. On the starboard aspect, the girders lengthen forwards a brief distance to the stubby stays of one other bulkhead. The port aspect has collapsed fully. The world enclosed would probably have been the ship’s coal bunkers (3).
From right here ahead, the wreck stands solely a metre or two above the seabed. The oblong surrounds of cargo-hatches can simply be made out among the many common particles that marks the collapsed ahead holds (4).
The tip of the holds and begin of the bow space is marked by an enormous anchor-winch sitting throughout the wreck, seated squarely on a thick metal mounting-plate (5). Hull-plates have collapsed and folded throughout the wreck, however the define of the bows can nonetheless be picked out, virtually degree with the silty seabed (6). Simply off the wreck, enormous shoals of fish swarm within the light present.
Swimming in direction of the strict, the port aspect of the hull has clearly collapsed away from the wreck (7), whereas the starboard aspect has collapsed extra onto the wreck, indicating that the entire construction of the wreck has collapsed to port. My guess is that if you wish to enterprise out over the silt searching for particles from the superstructure, the port aspect is extra prone to be worthwhile.
For the aim of this tour, I might advocate getting again onto the principle physique of the wreck simply aft of the boilers (8). Right here, among the many stays of the engine-room, you will see that an enormous four-cylinder steam engine (9), nonetheless upright and rising to a depth of 20m. Not as large as on the Somali (see March Wreck Tour), however however spectacular.
Behind the engine, an uncovered part of propshaft leads the best way to the strict (10). Within the space of the aft holds, the indicators of the hull having collapsed to port are rather more obvious. The starboard half of the wreck is roofed by plates from the starboard aspect of the hull resting towards the partially buried stays of the propshaft tunnel (11).
Intact maintain surrounds and scraps of decking have all slid to the port aspect of the wreck, with the port aspect of the hull collapsed outwards, leaving ribs uncovered.
Nearing the strict, the hull retains a few of its authentic construction, robust cross-bracing reinforcing the aft finish of the ship (12) and stopping its collapse.
The overall line of the wreckage rises just a few metres to satisfy the rudder-shaft towering above (13). Following this downwards, metal plates lie propped towards the strict like an enormous metal teepee.
Close to the seabed at 27m, a big hole between these fallen plates is open sufficient to disclose the decrease a part of the rudder-shaft and the rudder standing within the silt.
An extremely dense masking of brilliant orange plumose anemones is an effective indication of the power of the present outdoors the slack water occasions.
Outdoors this tent of metal plate, and following the rudder-shaft upwards, you’ll see an oblong plate pierced and supported by the shaft – it’s all that continues to be of the unique deck. The highest of the shaft is at 16m, with the semi-circular stays of the steering mechanism nonetheless in place, indicating the unique degree of the principle deck.
On the intact ship, a metal cable or chain would have run from the ship’s wheel within the wheelhouse down both aspect of the ship and around the again of this semi-circular cam. Turning the wheel would wind the cable to 1 aspect, rotating the cam and thru that the shaft and the rudder.
Now on the shallowest level of the wreck, the steering mechanism makes a handy place to tie down a reel and launch a delayed SMB for ascent.
RUNNING THE GAUNTLET
The two,315-ton French steamer Longwy was one of many victims of a German UC-class mine-laying submarine engaged in setting a widespread area of mines throughout the approaches to Glasgow and the Clyde.
The Longwy, certain for the Clyde from Bilbao with a cargo of iron ore, was three miles off Corsewall Level on the Scottish shore of the North Channel out of the Irish Sea when the torpedo hit her, on the morning of 4 November, 1917.
Although it was a torpedo that sank the ship, the course set by Captain Yves Legall may properly have ended with a mine explosion anyway. At this late stage of the battle, the German mine-laying subs have been planting their cargoes shut inshore, to catch Allied delivery hugging the coast in an effort to dodge U-boats working in deeper waters.
The Longwy was in-built 1903 in Nantes and, when launched, was 86m lengthy with a beam of 12m and a draught of 6m. She was powered by a three-cylinder triple-expansion steam engine, made by Schneider & Co of Creusot.
GETTING THERE: Girvan is located on the A77, 25 miles north of Stranraer and 55 miles south of Glasgow.
DIVING AND AIR: Rachel Clare is a quick offshore 105 based mostly at Girvan, and skipper Tony Wass has an association with the native diving membership for air-fills. The closest oxygen-clean air and nitrox is 40 miles away at Largs. Different contacts embrace: Clyde Diving Charters; Flying Eagle Charters; C&C Marine Companies; Kip Watersports; and Argyll Yacht Companies.
LAUNCHING: Slip or seashore at Girvan, slip at Stranraer. Each slips are usable just for 2 hours both aspect of excessive water.
TIDES: Tides for the Longwy are uncommon. For just a few hours every tide it rips throughout the wreck earlier than all of the sudden going slack for a very good couple of hours, 1 hour earlier than low water or excessive water Girvan. On neaps it’s slack sufficient to dive from 2 hours earlier than, till 2 hours after the tide at Girvan.
HOW TO FIND IT: The place of the Longwy is 55.03 15N, 5.10 36W (Levels, minutes and seconds). The transits are obscure and tough to make use of, so arrive eraly and permit time to run a search sample utilizing GPS. The wreck lies north-south, so an east-west search sample is probably to cross the wreck.
QUALIFICATIONS: Sports activities/Superior Open Water Divers and above. Extra skilled divers will in all probability need to plan for an extended backside time with some decompression.
FURTHER INFORMATION: Admiralty Chart 2199, North Channel (Northern Half). Ordnance Survey Map 76, Girvan, Ballantrae & Barrhill. Clyde Shipwrecks, Peter Moir & Ian Crawford.
PROS: An fascinating steamship wreck made particular by the sight of the magnificent rudder-post and stern.
CONS: Visibility can get low after just a few days’ rain, however is usually higher than additional north within the Clyde.
Because of Tony Wass, Alex Poole, and Jonathan Peskett.
Appeared in Diver, Might 2000