Linn Røkenes enters a doorway leading to the stern block of the Freighter.

DIVERS DON'T COME ANY MORE ENTHUSIASTIC than Norwegians! It doesnt matter whether the thermometer indicates that its just above zero or -20C, someone always shows up for a dive.
The Alta dive-club boat was packed as usual as we fell off backwards into the waters of Kaafjord and descended to the wreck of a small but very picturesque freighter.
The wreck lies at 38m, on its keel and perfectly perpendicular to the surface. The steel hull, deck and tiny wheelhouse are very much intact - as are two large funnels that tower above the wreckage towards the light.
Its not often that you see funnels on sunken shipwrecks. In tidal waters they are normally the first part of the ship to be swept away in the flood. But here, tucked into the very corner of Kaafjord, everything is so perfectly still.
An inviting door on the port side is wedged half-open. With our torch-beams flooding the interior, we can see the golden-rusticle effect on the gantryways leading into the engine-room.
A staircase leads down, gauges on the walls pointing the way to the engine. The slit that lies on each stair tread indicates that few people have disturbed this area in recent times. The last to walk these gantries and descend these stairs were young engineers from Nazi Germany!
The silence is eerie, but the crystal water allows us an idea of what it would have been like to work inside these ships. Up on the decks we can see loaded cable-drums, winches and deck machinery of various kinds, and at the stern there is
a perfect example of a rudder quadrant.

KAAFJORD IS JUST ONE of the many fjords in Norways far north-west, surrounded by spectacular mountainous regions and accessed via Altafjord and the Norwegian Sea. Kaafjord is well inside the Arctic circle, so you need a good drysuit. Water temperature
in winter can be as little as 2°C at the bottom and around zero at the surface!
In the summer its far warmer, however - 4-6°C on the seabed and 8-14°C at the surface!
During World War Two, Kaafjord provided the perfect natural harbour in which to hide the most feared German battleship, the Tirpitz. She was used as a deterrent to northern convoys passing between Russia and Europe. Several air attacks failed to sink this majestic ship, but did leave behind both beautiful shipwrecks and some rather interesting and, often, unidentified debris.
The small wreck we are diving is usually known as the Freighter, though its real name was Kiel Hz 57. A typical wartime steam-powered supply vessel, she was probably an old hull with a standard superstructure mounted on top.
These ships were named after a place, plus Hz (for Heizer, or heater) and
a serial number. Records of all such vessels up to number 56 can be sourced in archives, but for some reason there is no data on 57.
Its assumed that she was a tugboat and would have served the Tirpitz. With wartime fuel shortages, Tirpitz would shut down her main engines and be supplied with steam from smaller coal-driven ships lying alongside.
Much of Kaafjords seabed is littered with wartime debris, including the area below where Tirpitz anchored. During daring British X-craft midget-submarine raids on the battleship, explosives were laid below her, and reports stated that she had been blown 2m out of the water.
The attack failed to sink the Tirpitz but her back was broken, rendering her useless for battle. The tremendous explosions left many of her contents broken or unusable, and the German crew simply tossed these into Kaafjord, where they came to rest 43m below.
Divers from Alta dive club have been scouring this area for years, and it is no surprise that the Tirpitz museum is on the banks of Kaafjord.
Even today a dive here is likely to reveal broken porcelain bearing a swastika and a date and, if youre lucky, youll find an intact piece of memorabilia. Who knows what lies inside some of the discarded anti-torpedo nets, or what was lost or thrown overboard as the ships waited to enter secure areas.
The dive club celebrated its 30th anniversary last year with classic jubilee diving almost every weekend. After each day out, the snow is knocked off the cylinders and they are refilled ready for another days adventure.
Because of Kaafjords history, it is the club, in co-operation with the harbour authority and museum, that regulates the diving here.
Alta, the largest town in the area, is known as the town of the Northern Lights. People turn up from all over the world to see this natural phenomenon, as well as Europes largest and richest rock carvings, thousands of years old.
Depending on the time of year, Alta can be in either complete darkness or sunlight almost 24 hours a day, so if you fancy diving at 3am in broad daylight, you can!

IN THE FAR CORNER OF KAAFJORD, on what is known as the North Anchorage, is the fantastic little wreck of a vessel that probably sank very fast. Divers know it as the Tug, possibly named by English dive teams searching for the missing X-craft subs in the 1970s. Similarly, they may also have given the Freighter its popular name.
The shape of the Tugs steel hull is similar to that of a tugboat, but the resemblance stops there. She started life in 1921 as the Kehrwieder, a side trawler. In 1937 she was lengthened to 43m. Bought by the German Kriegsmarine in 1940, she was renamed Stubbenhuk.
It seems that both the Freighter and the Tug sank on 15 September, 1944, the day of a British Tallboy air-raid.
The Tug rests on its keel in 43m, listing 45 to port. As with the Freighter, the funnel remains in place.
The mast also stood proud for more than 60 years before finally snapping in the winter of 2005. The wreck is an excellent dive site for both advanced recreational and light technical divers, particularly those who enjoy their marine life.
The life here and on other Kaafjord wrecks is quite varied. Youll find cusk, a long-bodied member of the ling family (Brosme brosme), and all around the deck and railings are sea-slugs, shrimps and anemones.
In WW2 the Tug served as a sort of hostel for officers visiting Tirpitz, and below decks you can find all sorts of interesting remains, including boots and first-aid kits. German records suggest that at one time there was a cinema on the first deck, though this room has never been identified.
A manifold and a cut rubber pipe show that the Tug probably sank so fast that there was no time to disconnect the transmission properly. The holds still contain tons of coal, and the large steam tanks remain intact.

ANOTHER SHIP THAT SANK in the Tallboy air-raid was Nord 29. This wreck lies fewer than 150m from the Freighter and was discovered by accident on 25 February 1995. An Alta diver searching for brass casings, and certainly suffering from a dose of the dreaded nitrogen narcosis, stumbled across the wreck, but no one believed him until a team searching with an echo-sounder confirmed his story sometime later.
Kaares Boat carried this name until only a few years ago, when the wrecks true history was revealed. It turned out to have been a 32m barge that had arrived in Kaafjord days before the sinking with supplies for the Nazis and their vessels. She was called Georgine De Hoop (meaning hope), though there is no record of when the Kriegsmarine took her on.
A British bomb made a perfect hit on her bow section and took her straight to the seabed at about 36m, along with two of the Dutch crew and a Norwegian girl, making this one of the few Kaafjord wrecks to have gone down with people aboard. On the after-deck, the helm still sits as a monument.
Other nice-looking wrecks in Kaafjord include a little wooden vessel found in 2007 and a wreck formally known as X5.
This was at first believed to be one of the missing British X-craft, but all indications are that this is not the case. X5s true identity remains a mystery.

Leigh
Leigh Bishop and Linn Røkenes
Kaafjord
Kaafjord during the winter months.
A
A cable winding winch on the Freighters foredeck.
The
The cusk is a cod-like fish but is actually a member of the ling family.
Carl
Carl Spencer brought along his rebreather to enjoy the diving on offer in Kaafjord.
Open
Open entrance into the bridge wheelhouse of the Tug
diver
diver Gary Townsend looks into a welcoming hatch entrance on the foredeck
putting
putting scale to a funnel that is amazingly still intact
expect
expect to find plenty of porcelain in Kaafjord bearing the Nazi emblems
marine
marine growth on the Tug makes it an attractive dive.
The
The open stern section of the wheelhouse.
Divernet
FACTFILE
GETTING THERE: Fly from major UK cities to Oslo, Bergen or Stavanger with connecting flight to Alta. DFDS ferries run from Newcastle to Bergen.
DIVING: Anyone wishing to dive Kaafjord is advised to start by contacting Alta Dive Club, email linn@rokenes.no
ACCOMMODATION: Rica Hotel Alta, www.rica-hotels.com
WHEN TO GO: May-Sept sees water temperatures up to 15.
MONEY: Norwegian krone.
PRICES: Return flights from London to Alta via Oslo with FlySAS, £280. Rica Hotel Alta, £100 per night per person.
FURTHER INFORMATION: 020 7839 6255, www.visitnorway.com