2008-Norway-Post Exped Report-RAF Kinloss ... - Royal Air Force

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2008-Norway-Post Exped Report-RAF Kinloss ... - Royal Air Force

ROYAL AIR FORCE KINLOSS SUB-AQUA CLUB

EXERCISE CHILLY DIPPER

27 SEP TO 12 OCT 08

NARVIK to TRÖMSO

NORWAY

POST EXPEDITION REPORT

AIRHQ/60/2008


CONTENTS

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

2


RAF Kinloss

10 Nov 08

KIN/2603/3/1/PEd

EXPEDITON LEADER’S REPORT

References:

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.

G. AP3342.

1. INTRODUCTION

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.

2. AIM

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.

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4. PERSONNEL

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.

5. TRANSPORT

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.

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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.

7. FINANCE

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.

8. MEDICAL

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

page 11.

10. EQUIPMENT

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.

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11. TRAINING

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

E-mail: Gordon01@globalnet.co.uk

13. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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

14. CONCLUSION

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

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spirit of camaraderie prevailed throughout, all expedition aims were achieved

and the whole venture was an outstanding, enjoyable success.

M ISTANCE

Flt Lt

Expedition Leader

Distribution:

External:

Information:

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

Information:

Internal:

Stn Cdr

OC BSW

OC PMS

PEdO

6 Expedition Members

7


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

future expeditions:

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.

9


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.

Mark Istance

Expedition Leader/Diving Officer

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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

Wilson

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EXERCISE CHILLY DIPPER ACTUAL ITINERARY

Date Time Location Activity

27 Sep 1800 Main Guard Room, Kinloss Depart for Stansted

Airport.

2100 Perth Pick up Sgt Angus

28 Sep 0730 Stansted Airport Check-in for Flt.

1330 Oslo/Gardemöen Airport Check-in for onward

Flight.

1630 Arrive at Evenes Airport Pick up bags and board

bus

1830 Arrive at Narvik Board dive boat MV

Jane R

29 Sep 0800 Narvik harbour Assemble dive kit and

initial dive brief

1000 Narvik harbour Dive – British ore

carrier Romanby

1500 Narvik harbour Dive – Romanby

30 Sep 0900 Narvik harbour Dive – German ore

carrier Neuenfels

1300 Narvik Visit to the War

Museum

1500 Narvik harbour Dive – German

destroyer Anton

Schmitt

1 Oct 0900 Narvik harbour Dive – Neuenfels

1300 Bjerekvik Visit to a shed housing

a JU52

1530 Narvik harbour Dive – German ore

carrier Strässe

2 Oct 1000 Narvik harbour Dive – German ore

carrier Martha Hendrik

Fisser

1500 Narvik harbour Dive – The 3 German

destroyers: Wilhelm

Heidkamp, Anton

Schmitt and the Diether

Von Roeder

3 Oct 0900 Trollvik Dive – German

destroyer Herman

Kunne

1500 Narvik Harbour Dive – The 3 German

destroyers

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4 Oct 0900 Narvik harbour Dive – Romanby

1500 Skjomenfjord Dive – British destroyer

HMS Hardy

5 Oct 0900 Narvik harbour Dive - Martha Hendrik

Fisser

1500 Skjomenfjord Dive – HMS Hardy

6 Oct 0900 Narvik harbour Dive – Neuenfels

1300 Narvik harbour Departed Narvik for the

last time bound for

Trömso

1500 Djupvik Bay Dive – German

destroyer Erich

Köellner

1900 Lødingen Arrive at Lødingen for a

night stop

7 Oct 0900 Lødingen Dive – British built

German freighter

Karmoy

1500 Foldvik, Gratangen Dive – Ferry Dronny

Maud

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

nightstop

9 Oct 0700 Finnsnes Depart for Trömso

1400 Hâkøya, Trömso Dive – German

Battleship Tirpitz

1530 Hâkøya, Trömso Dive – German

Battleship Tirpitz

1700 Trömso Ashore for nightstop

10 Oct 1100 Trömso Visit to the Polar

Institute

1300 Trömso Visit to the Tirpitz

Museum

1500 Trömso Visit to the Polar

aquarium

11 Oct 0430 Trömso Taxi to Trömso Airport

13


0650 Trömso Depart for Stansted

airport

0900 Stansted Depart for Kinloss

1830 Kinloss Arrive at Kinloss and

disburse

12 Oct 0900 Kinloss Meet to sort equipment

and return vehicles

14


MAPS

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.

15


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.

16


NARVIK

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

time.

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.

17


TIRPITZ

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.

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DIVE STATS

Depth in Metres

10 to 20 21 to 30 31 to 40 No. of

Dives

Underwater

time

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

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RAF ADVENTUROUS TRAINING FORMS

FORM AT 5

Record of Income and Expenditure

File Reference KIN/PEd/2610/6 Station KINLOSS

Command

Expedition Chilly Dipper

serial No AIRHQ/60/2008

Nickname

Location Narvik, Norway Dates 27 Sep to 12 Oct 08

Income Expenditure

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

13000

Public Travel: Car Hire 380 Additional Charter, Narvik to

Trömso

2000

Public Travel: Fuel 350 Oxygen 500

RAF Sports Lottery (Non

Public)

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

charges

716

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

20

Balance (Returned to Sports

AT Account Kinloss)

419


EXPEDITION CHILLY DIPPER - EXPEDITION DIARY

Saturday 27th

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.

Sunday 28th

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

Groundcrew!

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.

Monday 29th

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.

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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

ensued.

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.

Tuesday 30th

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

cylinder charging.

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

warship.

22


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.”

Wednesday 1st

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.

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Thursday 2nd

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.

Friday 3rd.

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

24


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

25


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

26


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

broken German

destroyer that had

put up a brave fight

against over

whelming odds as

the British

mercilessly pounded

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

27


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

understand.

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

28


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.

29


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

tomorrow.

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.

30

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