FIRST OFF, this isn’t my bucket list; these are all wrecks that I have dived. But I’m often asked: which wrecks in the UK would I recommend Which offer something a bit different Which remote wrecks are special enough to be worth the effort Which make the next level of training worthwhile
What follows are my personal recommendations of wrecks worthy of any bucket-list.
Wrecks that appear on every “best wrecks” list, ones that most divers will already know or will find easy to dive or reach don’t count.
Of course, those who live and dive locally to some of these bucket-list recommendations will consider them far easier to get to than I do.
But many excellent wrecks such as the James Eagan Layne, Scylla, Kyarra, M2, Salsette, Glanmire, Lochgarry, Hispania, Breda, Lucy, Dakotian, the Scapa Flow wrecks and many others miss the list.
My list needs to stimulate your aspirations, not introduce wrecks you will be diving next weekend on a regular club outing. So I pruned a long list down to 16 sites I couldn’t bear to leave out.
I make no allowances for even distribution around the country, accessibility, popularity or anything even remotely fair. These are my bucket-list recommendations, no-one else’s!


KLEBÉR Brittany 1
It’s a good 24 hours by boat from Devon, but as that’s the easiest way to get to dive the Klebér, I can just about recommend it as a bucket-list wreck.
Built in 1902, the Klebér is one of three 7730-ton cruisers named after Napoleon’s generals, the others being Duplieux and Deasaix.
The Klebér occupies a cusp in the design of warships at the turn of the century. The hull is built of massive beams and planks of teak with 102mm of steel armour bolted on. For those who have visited HMS Warrior in Portsmouth, think of this type of construction brought forward 40 years.
While escorting a convoy on 27 June, 1917, the Klebér struck a mine laid by U61 off Brest and sank in 45m.
The wreck lies inverted, supported partly by the turrets and 164mm main guns. The hull has cracked open from the weight of the armour-plates to show piles of shells from the magazines, 20 boilers and three engines and propeller-shafts.
Dived from Maureen of Dart before Mike Rowley retired. Some larger South Coast charter boats will venture this far on extended multi-day trips.

M483 Sark 2
Located in 51m to the north-east of Sark in the Channel Isles, the M483 is an upright and fairly intact example of a class of minesweeper and small escort ship that the Kriegsmarine operated in large numbers.
In the Royal Navy, these would probably have been classed as corvettes.
On 15 June, 1943, RAF Spitfires and Whirlwinds dived on a German convoy led by M483. Pilot Officer Cotton of 263 Squadron released the bombs from his Whirlwind moments before being shot down. One of the bombs split the port side of the M483’s stern, and the ship sank quickly.
The M483 had a 10.5cm gun at the stern, a 3.7cm anti-aircraft gun at the bow, seven more 20mm AA guns, depth charges and mine-sweeping fish, much of which can still be found. To hunt magnetic mines and power sonar and radar, the engine-room is extended with a sizeable generator room.
Dived with Sark Diving Services.

MURREE Devon 3
At 70m to the seabed, 38m to the top of the superstructure, and 11,940 tons, the Pakistani-registered container ship Murree is a massive wreck with just the stern making it a bucket-list dive, especially if the skipper can hook a shot right into the top of it.
The Murree was making regular runs from Europe to the Middle East and Karachi before foundering in hurricane-force winds on 28 October, 1989, about 22 miles off Start Point.
Some of the containers stacked three-high across the deck broke loose, one piercing the ship’s side.
As the bow slowly dipped under, the captain understood how bad the damage was only when an RAF rescue helicopter crew informed him. The BBC made a 999 documentary of the crew and their families being rescued.
The highlight for me was diving a 2m-deep swimming pool, located at 50m on the stern, then dropping through the core of the superstructure to the engine-room.
Dived from Maureen of Dart. South Devon charter-boats will make this long day-trip.

U1021 Cornwall 4
In typical Cornish vis, with depth from 45-51m depending on the tide, U1021 is both the prettiest submarine wreck I have dived in UK waters and, as a type VIIC/41 U-boat, one of the more interesting subs to dive.
Towards the end of 1944 a German message was intercepted and decoded. It warned the Admiralty of U-boats stalking Allied ships in the protected channel along the north Cornish coast.
A trap was laid – a minefield too deep for ships to run into, but just right for catching submarines in shallow water.
Off Trevose Head, on the night of 14 March, 1945, the steamship Rolfsborg reported an explosion and subsequent patches of oil. This was probably the mine that finished off U1021, which may have been stalking the Rolfsborg.
The wreck has a 45° list to port, with much of the deck fittings and parts of the cladding fallen to the seabed on the port side. The explosion broke the wreck apart through the forward torpedo-room, and the anchor of the mine can be found about 10m off the starboard side of the break. Highlights are the snorkel tube, periscopes, radio direction-finding antenna and twin props.
U325 and U400 were also caught by the minefield.
Dived from Atlantic Diver, Newquay.

U480 Isle of Wight 5
I had to think twice about including a second U-boat. I dived U480 with two nephews of one of the crew, one all the way from Australia for the dive, which in itself made the wreck special.
But this VII-C, with much of the machinery outside the hull beneath light cladding with armament, periscopes and other fittings, is too great a dive to resist. U480 is unique among UK sub wrecks in being clad in Alberich, a rubber coating designed to defeat anti-submarine sonar.
Commander Oberleutnant Hans-Joachim Förster felt that the system worked. He led a successful patrol south of the Isle of Wight in 1944, then, in late February or early March of 1945, fell victim to another minefield laid specifically to catch his sub.
The wreck is almost upright and intact except for damage to the cladding. It lies at 58m, just short of 20 miles off Anvil Head or the Needles.
An Alberich descendant is fitted to all modern submarines.
Dived from Wight Spirit, Lymington.

HMS PORT NAPIER Skye 6
Don’t expect all bucket-list wrecks to be deep. The minelayer HMS Port Napier breaks the surface of Lochalsh, between Skye and the mainland. It’s easy to find and dive, but difficult to get to without organising a small expedition.
On 27 November, 1940, the 9600-ton Port Napier was loading mines from the rail-head at the Kyle of Lochalsh when fire broke out.
Fearful of the explosive cargo, the burning ship was towed out before an explosion sank it; debris can still be seen on the nearby shoreline. Surprisingly, none of the mines exploded, and were removed by a Navy team in 1955.
Inside the wreck is an enormous narrow-gauge train-set used to move mines and drop them through hatches at the stern.
The mine-anchors were fitted with small wheels to fit the rails, and many can still be found throughout the wreck and on the seabed nearby.
Dived mainly on private expeditions, but Kyle tourist boats may take divers. It has even been dived from kayaks!

HMS DAFFODIL Dieppe 7
My list includes a larger train-set on the enormous flat deck of the rail ferry HMS Daffodil, which also lies fairly shallow in 20m, about seven miles out of Dieppe.
Originally built to carry loaded wagons for the WW1 trenches, then used to carry landing-craft off Normandy in 1944, Daffodil was returning from Dieppe on 17 March, 1945, when a mine sealed her fate.
The wreck has AA gun positions in each corner, mine-sweeping gear, winches arranged to pull wagons up and down the tracks, and all the other machinery beneath the deck.
Dived with Rouen club GCOB Plongée. Charter boats from Eastbourne and Brighton visit the wrecks on multi-day trips, staying ashore in France.

GAUSS Dieppe 8
Close to the Daffodil in 22m lies another unique and exciting WW2 wreck. The Gauss, or Sperrbrecher-178, is a 1236-ton motor ship specially adapted for leading German coastal convoys.
As well as multiple AA guns above deck with piles of ammunition, the hull is packed with mine counter-measures and big electric generators to power it, with barrels and cork in the forward hold for extra buoyancy.
Dived as Daffodil.

HMS PATIA Northumberland 9
Fighter Catapult Ship HMS Patia was a merchantman adapted to launch Hawker Hurricanes over the bow using a rocket-powered catapult, an emergency measure designed to chase German reconnaissance aircraft away from convoys. The fighter couldn’t land aboard it, so the pilot had to ditch alongside if too far offshore.
Also fitted with guns, this 5355-ton banana boat was off to collect her first aircraft when she was attacked by a Heinkel 111 bomber on 27 April, 1941. The bomber was shot down, but not before a bomb broke the Patia’s back across the aft hold.
The wreck rests with the front half upright and the aft part twisted to port in 63m, with the main deck at 55m.
The catapult gantry stretches from above the forward hold out past the tip of the bow. At the stern, two 6in guns are mounted on pintles above the deck.
Dived with Sovereign Diving out of Seahouses.

HMS PATHFINDER Firth of Forth 10
On 5 September, 1914, this ageing light cruiser became the first ship to be sunk by a submarine-launched torpedo, the U-boat being U21.
The forward magazine exploded, cutting off the bow just aft of the bridge. The ship sank in four minutes, leaving only nine survivors.
The aft section now rests upright in 64m, with the main deck at 56m. Four-inch guns are lined up along the sides, some still on their mounts and others broken off by trawlers. There are also two deck-mounted torpedo tubes and, beneath the stern, two pointed high-speed bronze propellers.
The final treat is a trio of toilets on the port quarter, liberally decorated with big brass portholes fallen from where the enclosing shack has disintegrated. It’s the sort of out-house many wreck-divers would like at the bottom of their garden.
Marine Quest recently put divers on a mark a few miles away that could be the missing bow section.
Dived with Marine Quest out of Eyemouth.

HMAY VERONA Moray Firth 11
Once a luxury yacht cruising the Western Isles, the Verona was requisitioned by the Admiralty and fitted with guns and depth-charger to patrol the Moray Firth for U-boats.
Early on 24 February, 1917 she struck a mine laid by UC33. The yacht’s back was broken just aft of the main boiler, and she sank in less than a minute.
I could write about the guns, but Verona was once a yacht and has the corresponding luxury fittings. Toilet bowl and washbasin both have fine blue detail on the white porcelain.
Also worth checking are the ship’s wheel and a box of photographic plates spilled from an onboard darkroom.
Dived from Top Cat out of Lossiemouth – the vessel no longer runs dive charters.

HMS WHIRLWIND Pembrokeshire 12
From WW2 emergency-build destroyer, Whirlwind was converted to a Cold War anti-submarine frigate but met her end as a target ship in Cardigan Bay firing range. Shot full of holes by blank shells, on 29 October, 1974, the range closed for the night. By the next morning the ship had sunk at her mooring.
The wreck lies on its port side in 35m, 10 miles off Cardigan Island and 22 miles from Fishguard. Armament still includes twin 40mm Bofors guns, twin 4in main guns and anti-submarine mortars. In addition to the frigate’s lattice mast, two latticed towers were added by the firing range.
Dived with Celtic Diving, Fishguard.

LV83 Dogger Bank 13
The lightship LV83 stands upright and intact on the Dogger Bank, rising from 34m with the light-tower reaching up to 20m. This wasn’t its working location. Lightships have no propulsion, and it was under tow to South Shields for
a refit when, on 16 August, 1967, the Polish steam trawler Snardy sliced into the side.Apart from the missing light, the tower and railing are intact and it is easy to imagine LV83 on station. Inside are generators and the crew’s quarters.
On deck are boat derricks, anchor-winches in all corners, an enormous fog-horn and a hand-powered pump, driven by hand-wheels with ornate curved spokes.
Dived out of Scarborough from Jane R, a vessel now based in Norway.

PEPINELLA Dover/Belgium 14
After 30 years in British ownership, the recently renamed Pepinella was on her maiden voyage for her new Italian owner when she collided with the Sundak and sank, on 20 April, 1958.
There are so many steamship wrecks, so what makes the Pepinella a bucket-lister
There is the exclusivity – this is a beautiful wreck, sitting upright in 29m, the superstructure rising to 22m. The hull is intact except for collision damage on the starboard side of the aft hold. Within the superstructure is the attractively tiled floor of the captain’s bathroom, and an Aga-style stove.
Dived with Dive 125, normally out of Eastbourne, but relocating to Dover, Lowestoft and Belgium in summer.

HMS MOLDAVIA Sussex 15
This P&O liner-turned-auxiliary cruiser will be known to most divers. Is it one of the usual suspects I started by excluding Yes. Is it a wreck that many divers will be unlikely to have dived yet Yes. Should you aspire to dive it Definitely.
On 23 May, 1918, UB57 sank the 12,358-ton Moldavia with one torpedo. The wreck lies capsized to port in 51m, some of the 6in guns pointing to the surface and others fallen to the seabed.
Many divers will see only the stern area where charter-boats generally hook a shot, but with time or a second outing it is worth venturing towards the bow.
Dived with Nauticat out of Brighton.

HOOD, Dorset 16
My final wreck to aspire to is currently off-limits. The 1891 geriatric battleship HMS Hood was sunk as a blockship across the southern entrance to Portland harbour on 4 November, 1914.
It used to be a massively popular dive site for Weymouth and Portland dive-boats, until in 2004 the newly commercialised harbour authority prohibited diving on the grounds that it was unsafe.
By coincidence, with divers conveniently out of the way, the area immediately inside the harbour from the Hood has become the approach lane for a fuelling jetty.
I know some have snuck a dive on the Hood against the harbour regulations since then, but that is not something I can advocate.
So whenever you get the chance, let the commercial Portland Port Authority know that you would like to see the Hood open for diving again.
If we all aspire to dive it, perhaps it will eventually happen.