Last weekend Healthy Seas had plans for two special diving trips in the North Sea. Because of the unstable weather the decision to go ahead was taken at the very last minute. On Saturday, our Belgian diving team the Ecoduikers sailed out, in spite of the strong winds and high waves. Their destination, the Waverley, is an old British steamship lying at around 20 metres deep. The Waverley was fitted out as a minesweeper at the beginning of the Second World War, and came under attack as it was evacuating British troops from Dunkirk. The diving conditions were also more challenging this time, with turbulent water, poor visibility and fishing nets wrapped very tightly around the shipwreck. Luckily our divers are not deterred by this kind of job, and after a full day’s hard work they arrived back in the port of Ostend where the Healthy Seas net storage facility for Belgium is located.
On Sunday our partner PAN Salvage joined the Dutch diving team for a clean-up trip. Diving with a salvage ship meant a very different kind of job for the six Healthy Seas divers – this time above water! Their target was the wreck of the Ameland, a steamship that sank following a U-boat attack in 1940, and which is almost covered with mainly gill nets. There was a strong wind, with waves about 1.5 metres high. The wreck lies in the Eurogeul, and tankers and cargo vessels pass very close by, so diving here is prohibited. However, the authorities granted permission for nets to be salvaged. Nets were pulled up all day using a salvage grabber fitted with two cameras, lights and blowers to clear away any sand. As expected, the first net was a bunch of gill nets containing a whole collection of dead North Sea crabs. This was a sad sight to see. More bunches of gill nets followed and even a complete beam trawl with at least half of the trawl net still attached. After a busy day’s fishing, the divers set sail for Stellendam, with an impressive 3,000 kg of dredged-up fishing gear on board.
Clean-up dives 2014
For Healthy Seas, our divers will perform 28 clean-up dives in the Adriatic and the North Sea in 2014. During these dives they will recover ghost nets and other fishing gear from many shipwrecks. Four additional trips are being planned in the North Sea with the Dutch company PAN Salvage. Because the trips are very dependent on good weather and a reasonably calm sea, last–minute cancellations are possible.
Keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates on the diving and salvage trips!