Dive Site Type: Shipwreck (Cargo Freighter)
Location: Portland, United Kingdom (accessable from Weymouth & Swanage)
Depth (top): 21 Meters
Depth (Bottom): 32 Meters
Visibility: 2 to 15 meters
Length: 150 meters
The Aeolian Sky was a Greek Freighter 150 meters long constructed in 1978. The ship was used as a modern day freighter through its short-lived lifespan on the seas.
Towards the end of 1979, the Aeolian Sky was sailing from Hull to Tanzania when she collided with a German vessel Anna Knueppell amidst sea-fog and a storm at 04:30. The Anna Knueppell suffered only minor damage but hthe Aeolian Sky wasn't so fortunate.
A royal Navy helicopter arrived at the scene at 09:30, evacuating the majority of the crew but owing to an engine fault, had to return to base and leaving several crew members aboard the sinking vessel of the Aeolian Sky.
A French tugboat was in the vicinity of the scene, and in an attempt to move the sinking ship closer to land, pulled the Aeolian Sky towards The Solent. It was at this point Southampton and Portsmouth Authorities, concerned with the hazard the wreckage would cause to nearby shipping lanes, forced the tug boat away from The Solent and was directed instead towards Portland Harbour.
Almost 24 hours following the collision, at 03:45 on 4th November 1979, the Aeolian Sky succumbed to the seas, sinking 12 miles out from the shelter of Portland.
The Dive Site
Accessing the dive site means a sail out from Weymouth, Swanage or Portland. The wreck lays on its Port side and is largely intact. The top deck is broken apart and the interior of the wreck and superstructure is easily accessible. Be aware of your surroundings at all times though, it's easy to swim over the wreckage of the deck and suddenly realise you're deeper into the wreck than you planned.
As the wreck it largely intact, you've got a lot to play with. Generally the charter boats will shot the wreck with relative ease just forward of the stern. I highly recommend an explore around the stern, discovering the rudder and huge anchor still sheathed to the wreck.
Owing to the depth of the wreck, you'll need to be prepared to run a significant decompression dive to explore the ship in its entirety. At 150 meters long, and lots to see as you go, you can easily spend several hours on the site and still discover new things.
Aaron's Journal Entry
Dive # 131
It was the first dive of the weekend trip with SX Diving and the jovial laughter had subsided to an eerie quiet, just the constant purring of the Catamaran's engines propelling us ever closer and the waves slapping against the hull. The sound of diving.
We were in our pairs and the plan was set. We were all decompression certified divers with several hours of deco under our belts, but still there was an air of unease. We had heard stories of the Aeolian Sky being a site repute for catching divers off-guard, becoming lost in the broken debris of its decks.
Dave the skipper urged us to be kitted up ready for when we arrive at the sight to get in the sea before the tides changed. As we all sat strapped into our twinsets, drysuits and myriad of tools and equipment, the boat lurched hard, tilting me off kilter causing me to wrestle with my gear to stay upright and on the bench. Thankfully Simon, my buddy (and a very experienced diver) reached out and helped me back - nothing worse than falling face first to the deck of the dive boat in full kit!
Finally we got the nod and we threw ourselves overboard, swimming for the shot line to guide us down to the wreckage. The surface was flat enough, but right in that moment, all I wanted to do was to get beneath the waves, and so down we went.
It was only once we were upon it I realised how overwhelming the Aeolian Sky is. In the clear viz we could make out the shadow of the wreck for around 10 meters. It was ominous, but fascinating.
We explored the stern of the ship, spotting the gigantic anchor, a tiny hatch and ladder the crew would have used to navigate the ship, and of course the rudder which seemed to go on forever!
Naturally we gathered a few minutes of decompression time after spending the best part of 30 minutes at depth, so we made our ascent on SMB's making the stops as we went. In the last 10 minutes of decompressing I somehow dropped my torch, sending it to the depths of the shipwreck 20 meters below us. So if anyone finds a Mares EOS torch about 20 meters off the stern of the Aeolian Sky, get in touch...