Durban’s Ghost Fleet In 1685 the sailing ship The Good Hope ran aground off the Bluff, South Africa and became the first recorded wreck of the Durban bay. There are 141 recorded wrecks off Durban and many more unrecorded. In the past two years we have been exploring the coastline around Durban in search of some of these wrecks. The first wreck we found was the Namaqua or uMZimvubu as she was best known as. She sunk in 1932. She is at 60 meters approx. 6km NEE of the Durban Harbour.
The next wreck was the Sir Gordon, the dredger attributed to building the Durban Harbour. She lies in 65m Our most exciting find was that of the HMS Otus, a British Odin class submarine, scuttled in 1946. She is at 105 meters. On the 24 January 2014, 30 years after she sank we found the MV Cape Columbine, a fishing trawler that sprung a leak and sank in 65m. The next exciting discovery was the US Nahma, one of the most expensive private ships built in 1898. She sunk in 1933 and lies in 75m. The last wreck we discovered is at 75m but I am yet to identify her. We have called it Durban’s Ghost Fleet. During my searching for these wrecks I have come across a couple of stories about two possible submarines that were sunk off Durban amidst much secrecy.
Amongst others, I have spoken to a navy and later commercial diver, who says that he had personal knowledge of these two submarines. He provided me with the approximate depths and positions that he could remember using Durban landmarks. They had no GPS at that time. For the past two years I have been searching this area and am now confident that I have found the position of one of these submarines. She lies at 80 meters.
I have been fortunate enough to have dived with the late Peter Timm on numerous occasions. Peter discovered the prehistoric fish, the Coelacanth, thought to have been extinct for more than 30 million years in Sodwana’s Jesser Canyon. He has identified more than 19 individual fish before his untimely passing. Peter was confident that if we were to find a similar canyon off Durban on the 100m Isobaths we would find Coelacanths.
- 14 May: Assemble gear, briefings, final coordination of plans and teams
- 15 May: Check out and shake down dive Max depth 30m.
- 16 May: 60m Dive, procedures, support divers and emergency plans
- 17 May: Discover a Submarine 80m
- 18 May: Revisit the Submarine 80m
- 19 May: HMS Otus Submarine 105m
- 20 May: Canyon Dive searching for Coelacanths 120m
- 21 May: Canyon Dive searching for Coelacanths 120m
- 22 May: Canyon Dive searching for Coelacanths 120m
- 23 May: Canyon Dive searching for Coelacanths 120m
Roger Horrocks will be the cameraman to film this expedition. He has been involved with many underwater documentaries for National Geographic, Discovery, BBC and Disney Channel. He will be filming using the Red Dragon Camera and Gates housing. The team members involved in this expedition will be the following:
- Jonas Samuelsson: PADI Course Director, Tec Trimix Instructor Trainer
- Patrick Voorma: PADI Course Director, Tec Trimix Instructor Trainer
- Allan Maclean: PADI Dive Master, Tec Trimix Diver
- Karl Kruger: PADI Master Instructor, Tec Trimix Diver
- Erik Brown: PADI IDCSI, Tec Trimix Instructor
- Roger Horrocks, Cameraman, Tec Trimix Diver
- Follow these links for the story so far
PADI Course Director and TecRec Instructor Trainer