I was surprised how big it was. Not sure what I was expecting but it is BIG
I love to wreck dive. I am not so much into the history of the wreck (certainly happy to listen and learn but prefer someone else to do the research and then give me the summary!) I more love the actual dive on the wreck, the marine life that is attracted to it and just that feeling as you descend and the wreck appears below you.
Well this excitement is definitely covered when diving the aircraft carrier, wreck of the HMS Hermes in Sri Lanka. It was 3 years ago that I was over in Sri Lanka with a great group diving the wreck and exploring Sri Lanka and I must say it is one of my more memorable holidays for both above and below the water experiences. I had not done a heap of research before heading off so did not have big expectations but I was certainly not disappointed.
Once we reached Batticaloa where the dive operation is based we were meet by the friendly owner, operator Fili who was certainly there to help us out both on the dive and during the surface interval. The accommodation was new, clean and comfortable and all located a short boat trip to the wreck.
We were excited about checking it out so headed out that afternoon. Fili helped us sort out all our gear, we loaded it into the small boats and off we went. Now this dive is one for the experienced it can have a strong current (we were lucky enough to get very minimal current all except one day) and is in deep water. You really want to have the training and experience for this trip.
Before we headed out Fili gave us a great brief on the dive and the wreck. At dawn, on 9 April 1942, in the Indian Ocean just off the east coast of Sri Lanka, the 167m long, 12,900 ton aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, was attacked in a devastating raid by 70 Japanese aircraft. Taking 40 hits in just 10 minutes, HMS Hermes capsized and disappeared beneath the waves, with the loss of 307 men.
Lying in 45-58m of water, 8km off the coast of Batticaloa, the wreck has been off-limits to divers unless accompanied by the Sri Lankan navy. But now, more than sixty years after sinking, the area has been opened to tourism and the HMS Hermes has finally become available for technically trained divers to explore. One of just three aircraft carriers accessible to divers (the USS Oriskany located in Florida, and the USS Saratoga located in Bikini Atoll) the HMS Hermes is unique in that she was the only one sunk in battle. This is without doubt, one of the most outstanding wreck dives in the world, with incredible visibility and abundant marine life.
After a short trip out on flat seas in out small boats we were above the wreck. An anchor was thrown and we were hooked in. We descended down on to the wreck and I was surprised how big it was. Not sure what I was expecting but it is BIG, also it is COVERED in marine life, both corals and fish. The pictures just do not do it justice. I was glad we had numerous dives on it as quite quickly I realized that it was going to take a while to check it all out.
After the dive, everyone was super tied, it has been a big day with the travel, heat, elephant ride and great wreck dive but so excited and ready for the rest of the dive on the trip. We planned an early start for the next day to get 2 dives in again.
After another day with 2 dives on the wreck we quickly feel into the holiday mode of eat sleep dive. With great dive, naps in the afternoon and little trips into town to get some yummy pastries each day. Every day we explored the wreck a little more and meet at lunch to discuss what we had seen and let other know what they should check out. Writing this mates me want to go back and explore it a little more.
So if you are tec certified and have experience deep diving, I would certainly recommend this trip to you. You will not be disappointed, getting a chance to check out beautiful Sri Lanka and dive one of the 3 air craft carriers, now I just have to check out the other two…