ROYAL AIR FORCE KINLOSS SUB-AQUA CLUB
EXERCISE CHILLY DIPPER
27 SEP TO 12 OCT 08
NARVIK to TRÖMSO
POST EXPEDITION REPORT
EXPEDITION LEADER’S REPORT Page 5
DIVING OFFICER’S REPORT Page 11
NOMINAL ROLL Page 13
ITINERARY Page 14
MAPS Page 17
NARVIK AND TIRPITZ – A BRIEF HISTORY Page 19
DIVE STATS Page 21
FINANCIAL STATEMENT Page 22
DIARY Page 23
10 Nov 08
EXPEDITON LEADER’S REPORT
A. Deep Diving Clearance – RAFSAA/DO/7 – dated 12 Jun 08.
B. Exped Command Authority – AIRHQ/60/2008 - dated 16 Jul 08.
C. Diplomatic Clearance – ST08/36 - dated 21 Aug 08.
D. Clearance for Civilian Participation – 20080912 – dated 12 Sep 08.
E. Joint Service Diving Regulations dated Apr 08.
F. BSAC Safe Diving Practices.
A total of 9 personnel from RAF Kinloss, RAF Brize Norton, RAF
Leuchars and RAF Wyton and one civilian participated in a major RAF multiunit
sub-aqua expedition to Narvik, Norway from 27 Sep to 12 Oct 08. The
expedition was named EXERCISE CHILLY DIPPER; it was organised and run
in accordance with references A to G.
The aim of the expedition was to promote the ethos of Adventurous
Training, particularly teamwork and leadership. This was to be achieved by
diving on the World War 2 shipwrecks around Narvik following the 2 battles
that took place during the German invasion in early 1940. Through diving in
this harsh, challenging environment expedition members would gain valuable
experience in the planning and execution of cold water diving. Experience in
the use of NITROX in repeat diving would also be gained.
3. THE EXPEDITION
The expedition planning had begun in Apr 08. Throughout this process
the advice, support and encouragement received from the PEd Flt at Kinloss
proved invaluable. The timescale for applications, subsequent clearances and
funding proved satisfactory. Narvik was chosen as the destination as it had
rarely been visited by RAF diving expeditions and had a large number of high
quality intact World War 2 shipwrecks. As it turned out after about a week
most of the wrecks in the Narvik harbour area had been visited. Therefore,
after negotiation with the skipper, it was decided that the boat would leave
Narvik and sail to Trömso, diving on the way and ending up diving the
remains of the German battleship Tirpitz. This part of the expedition added a
great deal to the overall enjoyment and success of the exped.
The level of ability required to wreck dive in this location demanded
that personnel were selected for their diving qualifications and previous
experience. A nominal roll is on page 13. The initial plan was for 10 service
members, mostly from Kinloss, to participate. As it transpired only 6 Service
divers from Kinloss were able to attend. The second Service SADS dropped
out close to the departure time. Fortunately, a replacement SADS was found,
being a civilian, Command approval for his participation was requested and
granted. Martin Marle had only just left the Service after many years spent
predominantly at Kinloss. As such he was known to most of the exped
members and fitted in straight away.
Various options for travel to Narvik were considered, however, as it is
so far north the only realistic form of transport was by aircraft. This
immediately introduced the problem of baggage allowance, as all divers would
be required to bring dry suits and associated bulky equipment. As a result the
airline chosen was Norwegian.no that operates from London Stansted Airport.
This little known low budget airline provided a very generous baggage
allowance of 2 x 20kg pieces of hold baggage and one piece of 10kg hand
baggage. Despite this all exped members struggled to meet the allowance
and some failed to meet it. Fortunately, we were only ‘caught’ once. Two
bags were found to be a total of 15kg over the limit at one of the 3 check-ins,
the excess cost the exped approximately £100.
Transport to Stansted was in 2 x 7 seat people carriers. With the large
amount of baggage this proved to be only just sufficient. We picked up Sgt
Angus from Leuchars on the way. The exped members from Brize Norton and
Wyton were either given hire vehicles or were driven by Service MT.
With the initial plan to remain at Narvik, 3 hire vehicles had been
booked for the journey from Narvik to Trömso Airport to catch the flight home.
Due to the change of plan and the dive boat sailing from Narvik to Trömso the
hire vehicles were cancelled. This proved very fortunate, as the drive would
have been approximately 160 miles on unfamiliar roads at night. In Trömso,
the airport was just a 20-minute taxi ride from the boat mooring and as such it
turned out a much-preferred option. Another advantage of this option was
that the return journey could be made to Kinloss within the MT regulation 13
hours so the night stop at Leeming was cancelled.
During the exped it had been expected to hire vehicles in Norway for
transit to various dive sites. This did not happen, as we decided not to dive
these inland sites.
The only problem we had with transport was on our return to Stansted
airport. Two vehicles had been booked with 2 separate hire companies, Hertz
and National, for the return to Kinloss. The National vehicle was there but
Hertz had cancelled their vehicle, the reason is still not entirely clear. Finding
half of the exped stranded at the airport the exped leader hired a vehicle and
claimed the hire and fuel cost back via JPA on his return.
6. ACCOMMODATION AND FOOD
The expedition was accommodated on the dive boat throughout. No
overnight stops were made on the outward or return journeys. CILOR was
issued and all meals were taken on board the Jane R. The dive boat was
perfectly adequate for the expeditions needs however, it is basic and unlike
liveaboards elsewhere you are expected to participate in the daily running of
the vessel. Future expeditions should bear this in mind particularly if they
have a ‘softer’ bunch of individuals or they have personnel with particular
dietary needs, as these may not be satisfactorily catered for.
All personnel paid an individual contribution of £300. The expedition
received an extremely generous grant of £8000 from Kinloss that ensured, at
an early stage, the expedition would go ahead. RAF Leuchars and Wyton
paid a requested grant of £500. RAF Brize Norton paid a grant of £350.
Further grants were received from the RAF Sports Lottery, RAFAT Special
Projects Fund and the Trenchard Memorial Awards Fund. A full breakdown of
income and expenditure is on Page 22.
Despite the hazards of diving in harsh conditions from a constantly
moving platform no medical problems were experienced.
9. DIVING OPERATIONS
The total number of dives carried out was 207 and over 161 hours
were spent under water. All but one of the exped members achieved over 20
dives; a breakdown of diving statistics is on page 21. No diving incidents
occurred and there were no diver related medical incidents. A detailed report
on diving operations is contained in the Expedition Diving Officer’s report on
The amount of equipment that can be taken on a cold water diving
expedition can be quite considerable. However, as we were flying careful
consideration had to be given to what can be left behind. Prior to the exped it
was recognised that we would be unable to take a large amount of spares.
However, in most cases we would be able to share equipment and the worst
that could happen would be a dry suit wrist or neck seal needing replacement.
As it transpired one member’s drysuit seams split as the glue had perished.
Despite continuous efforts the suit still continued to leak. The only other major
equipment problem was damage to a pair of demand valves when they fell off
the bottle rack. It had been learnt from previous experience that there was a
requirement to take our own O2 analyzers. This proved a wise move and 3
analyzers were taken.
Individual diver training had not been an aim of the exped. However, it
was recognised that there was scope to advance 2 of the expedition members
a diver grade and one participant was not Nitrox qualified. The instructor
qualifications of individuals, time available and facilities on the boat meant that
training could be done. Additionally, having a qualified Nitrox Instructor
amongst us enabled him to run a BSAC recognised course to teach the
Advanced Nitrox syllabus. More detail of the courses run is contained in the
Diving Officer’s report.
12. DIVE BOAT CONTACT DETAILS
The dive boat skipper has a rather unorthodox approach to customer
service and this approach may not suit all diving groups. However his
enthusiasm and humour contributed a great deal to the overall success and
enjoyment of the expedition. He can be contacted as follows:
Mr Gordon Wadsworth – Skipper, Jane R, – Phone: 00 4748 283191
Mobile No. 07775851150
The expedition would not have been possible without the help, support
and guidance of many individuals and organisations. We would like to
express particular thanks to the following:
Flt Lt Helen Craddock and Sgt Scott McNeish, PEd Flt RAF Kinloss
Mrs Eileen Pryde and Mr Mike Lobbett, Travel Cell, RAF Kinloss
WO Metcalfe, WO FD (AT)
The British Embassy, Oslo
WO Hickson, RAF Trenchard Memorial Awards Fund Committee
RAFAT Special Projects Public Fund Committee
RAF Sports Lottery Awards Committee
PEd Flts: RAF Brize Norton, RAF Leuchars and RAF Wyton
Over 200 dives were successfully carried out in the cold Norwegian
waters without incident; therefore the primary aims of the expedition were
achieved. Additionally, 2 individuals advanced a diver grade, Nitrox was used,
individuals were trained in its administration and one member qualified as an
Advanced Nitrox diver.
I have heard that some diving expeditions have come in for criticism in
the past for resembling holidays rather than conforming to the ethos of
Adventurous Training. I can confirm that this was no holiday. Living
conditions were basic and diving was carried out every day in challenging
conditions. That said due to the calibre of the individuals participating a great
spirit of camaraderie prevailed throughout, all expedition aims were achieved
and the whole venture was an outstanding, enjoyable success.
British Embassy, Oslo
RAF Sports Board
RAF Sports Lottery Secretary
FD (AT), Air Command
WO CS(SWS), OC Trenchard Fund
RAFS-AA Diving Officer
JSS-ADC Fort Bovisand
Mr Gordon Wadsworth, Jane R
Expedition members x 3
6 Expedition Members
DIVING OFFICERS REPORT
Expedition Chilly Dipper was a major multi-Unit sub-aqua diving
expedition to Narvik, Norway. Participants were from Kinloss, Brize Norton,
Leuchars and Wyton. All diving was carried out in accordance with Joint
Service Sub-Aqua Diving regulations, BSAC Safe Diving Practices and
AP3342. The total number of dives carried out was 207 and over 161 hours
were spent under water
An application to dive to 50mtrs was made to the RAFS-AA Diving
Officer; he approved this application. The 50m clearance was requested as on
previous expeds some dives had been spoilt because diving was restricted to
40mts. However, all the dive sites were within the 40mts range. Additionally,
without a regular opportunity to dive over 40 mts the required ‘build up’ dives
would not have been possible so I decided that all diving would be restricted
to 40 mts.
All participants were fully involved with the day to day routine of
running the diving and the dive boat. Each participant carried out the role of
Dive Marshall, this required close liaison with the dive boat skipper, the
planning of the diving and briefing of all divers. Additionally, while diving was
in progress they ensured that divers were logged in and out of the water. At
the end of each day a comprehensive debrief was carried out and then a brief
for the following days diving.
No diving incidents occurred however, there were 2 incidents related to
diving. Firstly, one of the divers had brought a dry suit that split on entry for
the first dive. Despite continued efforts to fix the problem it was never
satisfactorily repaired. As we were in a remote location and there was not
enough baggage allowance to bring spare dry suits this demonstrated the
importance of ensuring that personal equipment was tested and serviceable
before departure. Secondly, a twin-set fell from the bottle rack on the boat
damaging both demand valves. This demonstrated the care that should be
taken when securing equipment whilst on a moving dive boat.
Although diving from the Jane R was a great experience, indeed it was
the first live aboard dive boat for several expedition members, the Jane R did
have some misgivings which should be considered before being used by
Cylinders: Prior to the expedition I had gone to great lengths to
ascertain what cylinders, sizes, pony cylinders, etc were available,
therefore ensuring that individuals took the appropriate equipment.
When we got there it was clear that some of the cylinders were faulty
mainly due to faulty pillar valves, it took some time for all participants to
find serviceable cylinders.
Nitrox Mixing: Although the opportunity to use and mix our own
Nitrox was a valuable experience, the Nitrox equipment on the boat
was not good. The gauges, in particular, were grossly inaccurate
making the task much more difficult than it should have been.
Pat Woods and Martin Marle took responsibility for diver training. Andy
Wilson completed his final drills and assessments for Advanced Diver.
Gareth Kane finished off his Dive Leader training and started his Advanced
Diver training. Martin Marle, as a BSAC Nitrox Instructor, ran a BSAC
Advanced Nitrox course for Pat Woods, as he was the only expedition
member not to hold this qualification.
In conclusion, the expedition was a great success. The diving adhered
to the regulations was carried out without incident achieving all expedition
aims. The wreck diving was challenging and conditions were excellent,
expedition members gelled well and found the expedition to be an extremely
rewarding and enjoyable experience.
Expedition Leader/Diving Officer
EXERCISE CHILLY DIPPER NOMINAL ROLL
Service No. Rank Name Unit
8229160J Flt Lt Mark Istance RAF Kinloss
8304969J Flt Lt Gareth Kane RAF Kinloss
8439406D Flt Lt Pieter Severein RAF Wyton
2659757A Flt Lt Andy Wilson RAF Kinloss
E8151289 FS Pat Woods RAF Kinloss
E8271233 Chf Tech Darren Arnold RAF Kinloss
D8204252 Chf Tech Stu Hardy RAF Brize Norton
J8403458 Sgt Dave Angus RAF Leuchars
D8288052 Sgt Jim Jardine RAF Kinloss
Civilian Mr Martin Marle RAF Kinloss
Left to Right: Gus Angus, Mark Istance, Pat Woods, Pete Severein, Chucky
Kane, Stu Hardy, Martin Marle (Front), Darren Arnold, Jim Jardine and Andy
EXERCISE CHILLY DIPPER ACTUAL ITINERARY
Date Time Location Activity
27 Sep 1800 Main Guard Room, Kinloss Depart for Stansted
2100 Perth Pick up Sgt Angus
28 Sep 0730 Stansted Airport Check-in for Flt.
1330 Oslo/Gardemöen Airport Check-in for onward
1630 Arrive at Evenes Airport Pick up bags and board
1830 Arrive at Narvik Board dive boat MV
29 Sep 0800 Narvik harbour Assemble dive kit and
initial dive brief
1000 Narvik harbour Dive – British ore
1500 Narvik harbour Dive – Romanby
30 Sep 0900 Narvik harbour Dive – German ore
1300 Narvik Visit to the War
1500 Narvik harbour Dive – German
1 Oct 0900 Narvik harbour Dive – Neuenfels
1300 Bjerekvik Visit to a shed housing
1530 Narvik harbour Dive – German ore
2 Oct 1000 Narvik harbour Dive – German ore
carrier Martha Hendrik
1500 Narvik harbour Dive – The 3 German
Schmitt and the Diether
3 Oct 0900 Trollvik Dive – German
1500 Narvik Harbour Dive – The 3 German
4 Oct 0900 Narvik harbour Dive – Romanby
1500 Skjomenfjord Dive – British destroyer
5 Oct 0900 Narvik harbour Dive - Martha Hendrik
1500 Skjomenfjord Dive – HMS Hardy
6 Oct 0900 Narvik harbour Dive – Neuenfels
1300 Narvik harbour Departed Narvik for the
last time bound for
1500 Djupvik Bay Dive – German
1900 Lødingen Arrive at Lødingen for a
7 Oct 0900 Lødingen Dive – British built
1500 Foldvik, Gratangen Dive – Ferry Dronny
1700 Foldvik, Gratangen Arrive for night stop
8 Oct 0730 Foldvik, Gratangen Dive – Dronny Maud
1000 Foldvik, Gratangen Visit to the wooden
boat restoration yard
1530 Salangen Dive – German
freighter Elise Schultz
1800 Finnsnes Arrive at Finnsnes for
9 Oct 0700 Finnsnes Depart for Trömso
1400 Hâkøya, Trömso Dive – German
1530 Hâkøya, Trömso Dive – German
1700 Trömso Ashore for nightstop
10 Oct 1100 Trömso Visit to the Polar
1300 Trömso Visit to the Tirpitz
1500 Trömso Visit to the Polar
11 Oct 0430 Trömso Taxi to Trömso Airport
0650 Trömso Depart for Stansted
0900 Stansted Depart for Kinloss
1830 Kinloss Arrive at Kinloss and
12 Oct 0900 Kinloss Meet to sort equipment
and return vehicles
Narvik is situated east of the Lofoten Islands at the end of
Ofotfjord. Most of the wrecks we dived lie in Narvik harbour itself. However,
the British destroyer HMS Hardy and 2 German destroyers, Herman Kunne
and the Erich Köellner were further afield.
On 6 Oct we left Narvik bound for Trömso, diving en route and calling in at
Lødingen, Foldvik and Finnsnes for over night stops. The total distance was
approximately 165 nautical miles.
NARVIK AND TIRPITZ – A BRIEF HISTORY
In early April 1940 the British fleet were engaged in mine laying
operations in the Narvik area of Norway, this coincided with a planned
German invasion. Narvik was the most northerly of the ports the Germans
were concentrating on capturing, as it
was vitally important to all parties as a
major port for the export of iron ore
from Sweden. The German fleet
consisted of 10 destroyers and
managed to get ashore despite some
brave but futile resistance from the
Norwegian navy. Soon after this
landing the British 2 nd Destroyer
Flotilla consisting of 5 destroyers
made a daring surprise attack in appalling weather sinking 2 and damaging 3
German destroyers plus 6 merchant ships which were in the harbour at the
However, after this successful attack the British ran into 5 larger
gunned German destroyers and suffered severely; one being sunk and one
badly damaged. The flotilla commander, Captain Warburton-Lee, was killed in
this action and received a posthumous Victoria Cross, the first of World War
2. This action became known as the First Battle of Narvik.
Three days later a second
attack was planned and executed
by the British, this included 8
destroyers and the battleship
Warspite. When the British
attacked the Germans were still
struggling to refuel their ships and
many were short of ammunition
following on so quickly after the
first battle. This action was decisive
for the British as all Germans ships
were either destroyed or scuttled to
prevent them falling into British hands. An Allied force went ashore and
pushed the German land forces into the surrounding mountains.
Unfortunately, because of the heavy losses being suffered at this time in
France orders were issued to evacuate all allied troops from Norway.
To-day, some of the wrecks have been moved or salvaged, but many
of the ships still remain on the seabed around the Narvik area. The
Norwegians have imposed strict regulations preventing divers removing
artifacts from wrecks. As a result they offer a unique opportunity to dive well
preserved World War 2 wrecks in sheltered water. Because of the relatively
shallow depths the wrecks are accessible to sports divers and due to water
temperature the visibility can be in excess of 30 metres.
The Tirpitz was launched in early 1939 and completed in Mar 43. It
was regarded as a
massive threat to Allied
convoys in the North
Atlantic. As a result there
were many attempts to
sink the ship. Most notably,
an attack by midget
submarines called X-craft.
The Tirpitz was severely
damaged in this attack but
was repaired after 6
months. Aircraft repeatedly
attacked the Tirpitz and by
Sep 44 she was no longer seaworthy and was moved to Hâkøya Island, 3
miles from Trömso to act as a floating battery. On the night of 12 Nov 44, RAF
Lancaster’s attacked the ship. A direct hit on an ammunition store in this
attack caused the ship to capsize; over 1000 men were killed. Due to the
shallow water she remained above the surface. After the war the wreck was
bought by salvors and worked extensively for many years. Little remains of
this once huge ship.
Depth in Metres
10 to 20 21 to 30 31 to 40 No. of
Dave Angus 5 13 4 22 18 hrs 50 mins
Darren Arnold 4 4 2 10 6 hrs 45 mins
Stu Hardy 5 13 4 22 17 hrs 4 mins
Mark Istance 6 13 4 23 17 hrs 12 mins
Jim Jardine 5 13 4 22 17 hrs 14 mins
Gareth Kane 5 13 4 22 17 hrs 8 mins
Martin Marle 5 13 4 22 17 hrs 22 mins
Pieter Severein 4 13 4 21 16 hrs 56 mins
Andy Wilson 6 12 4 22 16 hrs 23 mins
Pat Woods 4 13 4 21 16 hrs 7 mins
Total Number of Dives: 207
Total Time Underwater: 161 hrs 21 mins
RAF ADVENTUROUS TRAINING FORMS
FORM AT 5
Record of Income and Expenditure
File Reference KIN/PEd/2610/6 Station KINLOSS
Expedition Chilly Dipper
serial No AIRHQ/60/2008
Location Narvik, Norway Dates 27 Sep to 12 Oct 08
Contributor Amount Item Amount
Total Personal Contributions: Transportation: Flights 2925
9 x 300 (Servicemen) 2700 Transportation: Car Hire 380
1 x 370 (Civilian) 370 Transportation: Fuel 350
Public Travel: Flights 2925 Boat Charter, including food,
accommodation, diving air,
equipment hire, fuel, staff costs
Public Travel: Car Hire 380 Additional Charter, Narvik to
Public Travel: Fuel 350 Oxygen 500
RAF Sports Lottery (Non
630 Polo shirts 180
RAFAT Special Projects Public
Fund – Air Command
1000 Transit Expenses – UK 233
CILOR (Public Funds) 1300 Norway costs, including extra
food, soft drinks, taxis, museum
fees and currency exchanges
Non Public Grant: Trenchard Fund 1800 Excess Baggage 102
Unit AT Grant: Kinloss (Public) 8000
Unit AT Grant: Brize (Public) 350
Unit AT Grant: Leuchars (Public) 500
Unit AT Grant: Wyton (Public) 500
TOTAL NON-PUBLIC RECEIPTS 5500
TOTAL PUBLIC RECEIPTS 15305
TOTAL RECEIPTS 20805 TOTAL EXPENDITURE 20386
Balance (Returned to Sports
AT Account Kinloss)
EXPEDITION CHILLY DIPPER - EXPEDITION DIARY
The hire vehicles were picked up from MT at RAF Kinloss. Andy was a
bit concerned when Mark demonstrated his inability to drive an automatic car
by trying to push Darren through the windscreen. The remaining RAF Kinloss
expedition members were assembled and the long journey to Stansted Airport
began at 1800. Dave Angus joined the expedition at Perth.
The 2 remaining exped members joined us at Stansted. At the check-in
for the Oslo flight Mark had to work his magic with the check-in girl so the fact
that several of us had failed to make the baggage allowance was overlooked.
The 2-hour connection between the flight to Oslo and the onward flight to
Evenes proved to be only just sufficient. We were doing very well with the
excess baggage until Martin and Chucky's bags hit the scales; they had been
caught with a total of 15kg over
the baggage allowance. Martin’s
foot on the scales didn’t help the
situation with the humourless girl
who charged the exped £100.
Martin and Chucky’s excuse for
their inability to follow simple
instructions was that they thought
the allowance only applied to
On arriving at the boat, the
Jane R, in Narvik a taste of things
to come were demonstrated by
our unusual skipper, Gordon, who sat amongst his new charges regaling us
with many a yarn as he yelled cooking instructions to a steadily simmering
Mark who had mistakenly believed he was a customer not a cabin boy.
The day started with kit assembly and a frantic effort to bodge together
some serviceable dive cylinders amongst the ropey assortment provided on
board. The enthusiasm of our team was evident as the mooring ropes were
slipped for the short transit to the first wreck. They even ignored the rumblings
from their empty stomachs; our morning porridge did not get served until
1230. Also another valuable lesson was about to be served up; if exped
members expected to be pampered while a crew ran around doing the routine
tasks they were very much mistaken. They were the crew! The skipper barked
incomprehensible orders and reprimands as we tried unsuccessfully to ‘ook’
the wreck buoy.
The first wreck was the SS Romanby, a British ore carrier which had
been lying peacefully in Narvik harbour
until the 2 nd Destroyer Flotilla arrived at
0430 on 10 April 1940 and sent her to the
bottom. The upright intact wreck was
enormous and it provided an interesting
shake-down dive. All enjoyed their first
dive with the exception of Darren. As he
hit the water his dive suit split along a
major seam as the glue had perished. A
miserable period of gluing and re-gluing
After our extremely late breakfast
or early dinner the Jane R once again set
sail for the wreck of the Romanby.
Another period of ropes and shouting
ensued prior to the second dive getting
underway. The dive was, yet again, very
impressive. All divers recovered safely to
the boat, Andy began his Advanced Diver drills by trying to drown his buddy
while practicing surface towing.
After blowing out the diving cobwebs the previous day things started to
come together. Even our serving of groul appeared before midday and our
delicate ears were starting to become attuned to the incomprehensible
Yorkshire rantings of our skipper.
The next dive site was that of the Neuenfels, an 8000-ton German ore
carrier that was also torpedoed by the British. Being the largest remaining
wreck in the harbour it proved to be an impressive dive for all except Darren,
who had been christened ‘The Dive Dodger’ by our sympathetic captain.
Once all divers had been recovered, the Jane R returned to port. A visit
to the Narvik War Museum had been arranged and it was very useful for us to
get some insight into the scale of
the battle that had hit this quiet part
of Norway 68 years earlier. After
this interesting interlude we were
also made aware that we were now
part of Gordon’s workforce who
‘had to start his van’ and ‘had to
help him put a grubby old cooker in
his flat.’ Those not assisting the
skipper with his property
management services filled their
time with Nitrox theory lessons and
The Jane R then set sail for the wreck of the German destroyer Anton
Schmitt, the wreck was smaller than the previous 2 wrecks that had been
dived but it was good to get stuck into the nooks and crannies of a German
That evening Darren enlightened the skipper with his thoughts on the
condition of the Jane R and the advantages of the luxury dive boats plying
their trade worldwide. It was about this time that Gordon coined the phrase,
”you are supposed to be on exped, nay some arse wipe holiday.”
Having decided that his suit repairs were finished, Darren started the
day with a plunge into icy waters of Narvik harbour to test whether or not his
many hours of repair work had been successful. The results were marginal
but he joined the rest of us on a dive on the Neuenfels.
Within microseconds of the last pair being out of the water, the ladder
was raised and the Jane R set
a course back into Narvik;
docking was achieved at high
speed. A quick
disembarkation saw everyone
en route to Bjrerkvik, a small
village 20 miles away to have
a look at a Junkers JU52 that
had been recovered from a
nearby lake in 1987 following
it sinking through the ice in
1940. The large corrugated
German transport plane was
an impressive site as it lay in a
shed waiting for finance to
become available so a
restoration project could
begin. The visit proved to be an unexpected highlight but not as much as the
opportunity to reintroduce some meat into our meager diets. The locals must
have wondered who we were as this bunch of large men wandered the streets
ramming chicken legs into their mouths as if it was their last meal.
The afternoon dive was on
the wreck of the MV Strasse, a
5600-ton cargo ship; all exped
members got into the water, but
Darren’s suit once again sprang
a leak. Mark astonished
everyone when he stripped off
completely on the icy deck
following his dive. His suit had
leaked and a blue, countersunk
Diving Officer headed for a
shower. After this dive, the
Advanced Diver training
continued when Pat put on an
Oscar-winning performance of a bent diver so Andy could practice the rescue
management part of his training. More dive lectures were given that evening
for Chucky and Pat.
Remarkably, the skipper got his act together this morning as we set sail
early for the wreck of another German destroyer the Herman Künne.
Unfortunately, despite getting away on time, it became apparent when we
were halfway to the dive site that the weather was not suitable to continue.
The fallback plan was put into action, which involved a return to Narvik
harbour and a dive on the Martha Hendrik Fisser. As the wreck is under the
shipping lane it is not possible to descend directly onto the wreck instead you
have to drop onto the Strasse, locate a connecting rope and then swim along
this rope until you come to the second wreck. The wreck was again upright,
intact and enormous. The engine rooms of these huge ships were becoming
familiar to us all. A valuable lesson on care for equipment was demonstrated
admirably after this dive when the knot holding Mark’s twinset in the bottle
rack came undone sending his cylinders crashing onto the deck damaging
both demand valves. Fortunately, Gus set to work with a large hammer and
affected a temporary repair.
The day’s second dive was
planned for the site of 3 destroyers.
All of these vessels had been
initially sunk in Narvik harbour but
had been moved just outside the
harbour as they posed a hazard to
navigation. We had dived the
Anton Schmitt before and were
amazed that we had not realized
there were 2 other destroyers right
next to her. That evening Andy
qualified as an Advanced diver, in
his excitement he announced that
if anyone ventured ashore that
evening he would buy them a pint.
Despite our reluctance, at £6 a pint it was too good an opportunity to miss.
Andy’s wallet took a hammering.
The first dive was to be the wreck of the Herman Künne, yesterday’s
aborted site. The destroyer lay on a slope with her stern in 40 metres and her
bows in about 3 metres.
By now our merry team had found their feet and when the skipper
dared to serve his crew vegetarian quiche he was subjected to a severe
verbal barrage of abuse. Their woeful cries of “Meat! Meat!” could be heard
resounding around the harbour.
As we sailed out for our second dive of the day on the 3 destroyers we were
discussing how well the morning dive had gone. Martin even commented that
we had gelled into a slick team. If only he had been able to foresee what a
debacle lay ahead he would have kept his comments to himself.
Divers were dispatched to attach ropes to wreckage, send up delayed
SMBs and subsequently signal that various tasks had been achieved.
Unfortunately, heavy ropes were secured to weak bits of wreckage, delayed
SMBs were strongly attached to sturdy bits if rust, a surface current pulled the
boat off the site again and again. To cap it all off Slippery Pete slipped into the
water without his weight belt. How slick was all that!
At dinner that evening it was discussed that we were starting to do the
same wrecks over and over and what else could we do. At this point a
cunning plan was hatched which entailed leaving Narvik, sailing up to Trömso,
taking in several wrecks on the way
and finishing the exped on a high note
by diving on the remains of the
German battleship Tirpitz. Sunday was
set as the date for our departure from
Narvik. Later that evening the skipper
returned from the doctors to announce
that due to his septic toe he had to
visit the doctor on Monday, so our
short lived hopes of a trip to Trömso
starting on Sunday were dashed.
However, Chucky qualified as a Dive
Leader, unfortunately he was not so
overwhelmed to promise a free round
so we turned in for an early night.
Saturday 4 th .
A latish start was planned for this morning to give the divers a chance
to fully decompress after several days diving. Sadly, the skipper took this to
mean he didn’t have to get up at all. Perhaps the problems of being a love
lorn, wooden dive boat skipper with a septic toe and a dodgy compressor was
depressing our captain. Eventually, we managed to pries him from his bed
when he informed us cheerily that, “I am allowed a good time as well you
know.” Eventually, after a late bowl of groul, the Jane R steamed out to the
wreck of the Romanby.
This was the 3rd dive on the
wreck, so the divers had the opportunity
to explore the nooks and crannies of the
ship, rather than taking in an overview.
All seemed to have benefitted from the
chilled out start as all had a relaxed dive.
During the inevitable post-dive chinwag,
Slippery Pete (or Squelchy, as he had
now become known) impressed us with
his encyclopedic knowledge of all things
nautical. Of particular note, his quote 'the
bow was really good, you dropped down
and there right in front of you was the rudder.’
Without returning to port, the Jane R set sail for the second dive site.
This was to be the wreck of HMS Hardy. This ship had been the British flotilla
leader for the attack on Narvik harbour. After the daring raid the British
destroyers ran into 5 larger gunned German destroyers, HMS Hunter was
sunk and HMS Hardy was badly damaged and beached. The Captain of
Hardy, Bernard Warburton-Lee, was killed and was awarded the Victoria
Cross posthumously for his courage in leading the attack.
The transit to the site was about 45 minutes, on arrival the skipper
announced he did not know exactly where the wreck was and he would need
to deploy the sacrificial divers. While they were in the water Pat suggested
having a look under a prominent buoy about 100metres away. This happened
to be tied to the wreck. We were expecting the dive to be rubbish, but one for
the logbook. As it turned out the exped members were pleasantly surprised to
find a well smashed up wreck in good visibility with plenty of potential for
finding some interesting artifacts.
Sunday 5 th .
It was a beautiful sunny but very cold morning. Our skipper’s mood had
improved, breakfast was only 10 minutes late and we learnt that pizza topping
makes a good base for almost anything,
particularly as it is cheap in Norway. We
sailed the short distance to the Martha
Hendrik Fisser for the morning dive.
The plan for the second dive was to
do the bow section of HMS Eskimo. A
torpedo from one of the German
destroyers had hit the ship; although the
ship managed to stay afloat her entire bow
had been blown off. However, it became
apparent that the weather was not suitable
for that particular wreck. After a couple of
hours in port, the Jane R set a course for HMS Hardy. Everyone once again
enjoyed the dive. Once all divers were back on board, the teapot was
hijacked, the stewed brew that had been simmering since our arrival was
unceremoniously thrown overboard and a fresh pot that didn't have 1/2 an
inch of teabag sediment at the bottom was made. That evening while Gordon
busied himself reading through his e-mails the crew passed the time by fixing
some trivial parts of the vessel, such as the navigation lights prior to our
anticipated trip to Trömso.
Monday 6 th .
To be woken by Mark walking
down the corridor at 0650 shouting 'Oop
Fookers!' at the top of his rather gravelly
voice is not a pleasant way to start a day.
But that is how the exped members
greeted the dawn on this particular
Monday. Almost before everyone was up,
we were kitting up and dropping over the
side for what was hoped to be the final
dive in Narvik harbour, on the wreck of
the Neuenfels. The plan was for a short
dive so that Gordon could get back to
shore in time for the doctor’s appointment
that would decide the fate of his gammy
toe and decide if our trip to Trömso was to come to fruition. All exped
members enjoyed the dive and returned to the surface for the post-dive
blether. Pat demonstrated that his grasp of the workings of a compass was,
for an Avionics Technician, rather poor after admitting that he had taken a
compass bearing while no more than one and a half feet away from 8000 tons
of steel shipwreck.
After the dive Gordon served-up some more of our favourite breakfast
gruel before steaming in to port; he then went off for his doctor’s appointment
while those left aboard tidied the boat in preparation for our trip. On his return,
bad news, he was going straight to hospital. Darren and Mark took the
opportunity to purchase some fresh rations; never has a bacon and egg roll
been so gratefully received. Fortunately, Gordon came back with the good
news that the Trömso trip was on. The Jane R set sail almost immediately for
our eagerly awaited adventure.
The first dive on the way was to be the wreck of the Erich Köellner,
some 2 and a half
hours out of Narvik.
Most enjoyed the
dive on this well
destroyer that had
put up a brave fight
whelming odds as
the doomed ship to
destruction. After the
dive we set off for
Lødingen, this small
town was to be our first night stop away from Narvik. On the way we passed
the remains of the German freighter, Rauenfels. This ammunition ship had
exploded with such ferocity that huge pieces of the ship could be seen spread
across the mountainside. Due to the time of day there wasn’t enough daylight
to go ashore and explore this unusual spectacle first hand. Once in Lødingen,
the exped members made a rare outing to a local hostelry for a chance to get
off the boat and have a quiet debrief. While in the bar, Chucky (or Chutney as
he had become known) attempted to chat up the pretty, petite barmaid.
However, his advances suffered a setback when he became trapped in the
toilet. He insisted that the door had become inadvertently locked, however the
barmaid gave the door a gentle tug and it flew open. 'You've just got to use
your muscles' she said. Better luck next time, Chutney.
Tuesday 7 th .
We were up early once more and dived before breakfast. The wreck of
the MV Karmoy was just yards from Lødingen. Aircraft from the carrier HMS
Implacable sank this British built cargo ship, commandeered by the Germans,
in October 1940. We had heard much of this wreck from Gordon as there was
a great deal of Iron Pyrites (Fool’s Gold) on the sea bed and had been the
source of many a practical joke in the past. Despite this we found the dive a
it dull after our recent experiences, we had been spoilt by the high quality
wrecks dived so far. However, Martin
supplied the morning’s entertainment.
Despite his vast diving experience it
became clear that he was not entirely
sure how his dive computer worked. As a
result Martin and his buddy ended up
doing 15 minutes unnecessary
decompression stops in the icy waters
after a safety setting had been
inadvertently been selected.
When the Jane R was underway
again in glorious sunshine, we were
treated to a fantastic cruise through
stunning Norwegian scenery and were
buzzed by Norwegian Air Force F16s.
After several hours we reached Foldvik
and the wreck of the Dronny Maud near
Gratangan. The wreck was stunning. This coastal vessel had been attacked
by aircraft and set on fire; it was cast adrift to save the houses on shore and
sank 100 yards from the jetty. The ship was upright in 40m with the deck in
35m. The ship’s wheel was still there as was the funnel, air vents and the
remains of vehicles on the deck. Après dive we were treated to a treat of
Angler Fish chunks in batter served up by Darren.
Wednesday 8 th .
The view that greeted the divers when they climbed out onto the deck
at 0700 was breath taking. The sky was clear, it was icy cold, not a ripple on
the water and the sun was just
beginning to rise over the snowcapped
mountains. The only
thing that disturbed the serenity
was Pat who was overturning
everyone’s kit looking for his
recently purchased underwater
camera. Eventually, he decided
it must have come out of his
pocket the previous day when
he had jumped off the boat, Pat
mumbled something about
Linda having his balls for
breakfast which no-one could
The dive on the Dronny
Maud the previous day had been so good that this was to be the first dive today.
After breakfast Gordon had arranged a visit to a boat restoration yard
round the corner. It was one of only 3 such yards in Norway where the
heritage of the country’s old vessels is preserved by restoring old wooden
craft from all over Norway to their former glory. Although it was a fascinating
visit we suspected that Gordon had an ulterior motive. Moored up against 2 of
the worst rotting hulks in the harbour the Jane R looked quite a classy vessel.
Once back on board, the Jane R set a course for the 3-hour transit to
Salangen and the wreck of the Elise Schultz. After an unusually tasty lunch,
the Jane R approached the wreck where another dive boat was moored.
Once again, the exped members' telepathic skills were woefully inadequate
when it came to understanding Gordon’s plan of how to tie the Jane R up
against the other dive boat. When Gordon screwed it up for the third time he
resorted to verbally chastising Stu using plenty of expletives; Stu, one of those
usually calm individuals, reacted by throwing off his weight harness and storm
off down the boat to reposition the stern line. In the wheelhouse Gordon gave
a sly grin, another small victory! The wreck was fairly large and there was
plenty of life to look at. Once everyone was back on board, the Jane R set a
course for the journey to the night's mooring. While transiting, Martin's
misunderstanding of the workings of his dive computer continued to entertain
everyone when he announced that, somehow, his computer had been set to
its freshwater setting. On arrival at Finnsnes another calamitous mooring
session with much shouting ensued.
Thursday 9 th .
Next morning most enjoyed a well-earned lie in while a couple of us got
up early to help Gordon untie the boat and drive it the 50 miles to Trömso.
These 2 had a great morning sailing through the fjords while the rest enjoyed
their relaxed start. Mark and Pat managed a fine pincer movement to
persuade Gordon to lay on a big fry-up rather than hot dog sausage, smash
and mushy peas. The final days diving got off to a fantastic start.
After brunch we
approached the site of the
remains of the German
battleship Tirpitz. The
victim of RAF bombing in
1944, this huge ship was
heavily salvaged after the
war. Lying in just 15m of
water the remains are well
disbursed on a silty
seabed. The water was
about 2°C colder than it
had been in Narvik so,
after the first 40-minute
dive, half of the divers
wimped-out of doing a second. Those brave enough to take to the icy waters
once again had a good rummage around the site of this historic wreck. Once
all divers were back on board a celebratory air swept the through the crew as
we realized we had completed a great dive trip without incident. On the short
journey into Trömso, the inevitable process of stripping down and washing
dive kit began. Despite our exhaustion at the end of such a great trip we
managed to get ashore for a quick beer.
Friday 10 th .
Diving in the 24 hours before flying is not allowed, but it was great to
have a day to chill out and pack up the dive kit. After breakfast some set off
for the Polar Institute. This was followed by a visit to the Tirpitz museum. This
museum closes at the end of September but we managed to contact the
curator who gave us a very interesting talk and a tour of the exhibits. Back at
the boat some were still not educated enough and set off for the polar
aquarium. Stu was impressed, particularly with the feeding of the bearded
seals. A procedure he described as ‘not dissimilar to watching Martin eating
Gordon's cooking.’ “Why are they called bearded seals?” someone asked.
”Because they’ve got effing great beards,” came his authoritative reply.
Thankyou David Attenborough! That evening Gordon served up Whale
Casserole and chips, perhaps not PC but after a belly full of whale it was all
our adventurers could do to turn in for an early night before the long day
Saturday 11 th .
At 0430 we were picked up by taxi for the start of the journey home.
Martin seemed a little reluctant to leave his adopted home, the Jane R,
therefore Mark had to spend some time coaxing him out of his bed. Back at
Stansted the nice lady at Hertz advised us that they had cancelled our hire
car. Mark thanked her for her help and set off to find alternative transport.
Much later that day we arrived at Kinloss and disbursed after a very
successful expedition. We went home happy in the thought that we had
participated in and benefited from a truly Adventurous Training experience
and “Nay arse wipe holiday,”
Mr Anders Perlstrand, Chairman of the Narvik Chamber of Commerce and
President of the Narvik Diving Association, wishes the Expedition Leader
good luck in an emotional encounter just prior to our departure for Trömso.