stanwood

Stanwood dive brief

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ss Stanwood

The Stanwood was a 4158 ton steamship, that had been confiscated from the Germans at the end of the Great War (WW1). It was used for carrying cargo for many years, until one day in December 1939, it went into Falmouth docks for repairs.

The are several stories about her exact final moments, my favourite is that when she was being welded, the cargo of coal caught fire. She was towed away from the harbour to the North Bank, the sea cocks were opened to scuttle her and put the fire out. The idea was that she would sit on the shallow ledge, 12m below. It would be easily re-floated. Instead on landing flat on the sea bed of the North Bank, they missed, she turned over and slid down the bank of the deep channel. Over the years, she has been heavily salvaged. Then, the remains were blown apart, she had been deemed a danger to shipping.

Stanwood masts and funnels sticking out of the water behind the warship.
Salvaging the Stanwood

We only dive the wreck on High Water slack, it needs to be slack and it’s best for visibility. The shotline is usually dropped in the middle of the wreck, between 12-18m. The site is more wreckage than wreck, it has been heavily salvaged but it is a haven for wildlife. It is not a site for wide angle photography, macro is best. Divers should make their way to the shotline and stay on the line until they reach the bottom. The area is quite silty, so try and stay off the bottom, it will ruin the visibility for everyone. Once there, there is a choice depending on your qualification. To restrict the depth, head slowly north, east or west. For greater depth, head south, criss crossing the wreck, to get to a maximum of around 30m. The wreck reaches a maximum depth of around 26m, after that the sea bed is quite flat but scallops can be found. After that, you can come back up the wreck towards the shallows, which runs out at around 8m. Continuing north, you can finish the dive on the oyster beds in around 6m. DSMB’s must be deployed before ascending.

Stanwood wreckage.
Stanwood wreckage
Sidescan image of the Stanwood
Stanwood multi beam image

Stanwood Wreck

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The Stanwood was a 4158 ton steamship, that had been confiscated from the Germans at the end of the Great War (WW1). It was used for carrying cargo for many years, until one day in December 1939, it caught fire. It was then towed to the north bank in the Carrick Roads where they opened the sea cocks to flood the ship to put the fire out and let it rest in 10m.  The idea was to the re-float it, but, it fell over and ended up sliding down the bank. After some heavy salvage the remains were dynamited to remove the hazard to shipping. read more →

S.S. Stanwood

Categories: Tags:

The Stanwood was a 4158 ton steamship, that had been confiscated from the Germans at the end of the Great War (WW1). It was used for carrying cargo for many years, until one day in December 1939, she caught fire.

The are several stories about her exact final moments, but my favourite is that when she caught fire, she was carrying a cargo of coal. She was towed her away from the harbour and scuttled. The idea was that she would sit on the shallow ledge, 12m below and would be easily salvaged or re-floated, but instead on landing flat on the bottom, she turned over and slid down the bank. She was heavily salvaged, then the remains were blown apart, as she had been deemed a danger to shipping.

We met up at the usual place, Customs House Quay in Falmouth, on what was a surprisingly warm and sunny day. A few boats were whizzing by taking advantage of the weather and the gentle warm breeze. The North Easterly wind had kept up overnight, which is what we expected, and the plan to dive the Stanwood was our only decent option. Once again we set off on Redeemer, nine of us in total. Usually everyone likes to sit in the heated cabin, but it was such a warm day everyone stayed on the rear deck. Shaun did his favourite thing of dropping us on the ledge, so we could decide how deep we wanted to go. I decided to do a free descent rather than use the shotline and see what I could find.

The wreck lies between 10 and 25 metres. There were huge pieces everywhere. I could see twisted beams and plates and pieces of pipes sticking up two or three metres which all told the tale of the Stanwoods’ violent end. She now makes a perfect home for lobsters and crabs, as well as the odd conger. Jewel and plumose anemones have also taken up residence, as well as the usual dead mans’ fingers. I didn’t see any shoals of fish, but there were plenty of pipefish and dogfish laying around. There was also a large area of wreckage that you could swim under quite comfortably and a possible swim through, but I thought I’d better see the other end first and choose a time when there was no current. The biggest pieces of the wreck were between ten and twelve metres, but it is scattered over a very large area. It was hard to tell where any of the pieces came from on the original ship.

The only piece I could clearly distinguish I found after the current eventually got the better of me and I had headed off with the flow.

It was the anchor and chain!