Divernet

WHEN I DIVED THE BARON CARNEGIE off the north coast of Pembrokeshire, local diver Bob Lymer, joint owner of the wreck, had attached a small buoy to the top of the stern (1) at 35m. So this is where our tour begins.
The stern is relatively intact and fallen to starboard. Much of the decking has fallen away, leaving an open lattice of deck beams with a nice covering of plumose anemones. Swimming past the railing (2) and following the curve of the stern down to the seabed at 45m, youll see that the rudder remains in place, though slightly bent as the wreck has collapsed.
The tail of the propeller-shaft is buried, and there is no sign of the propeller.
When the Baron Carnegie was bombed on 11 June, 1941, a hit in the aft hold broke the propshaft and pushed it forward into the engine-room. The ship then began flooding from the stern.
With this in mind, there is a good chance that the propeller was simply broken off by the explosion.
Following the seabed back round the stern, the 4in gun (3), originally located centrally on the deck, has broken off, with the complete gun-mount and rests canted between the wreck and the seabed.
Forward of the break, the deck of the Baron Carnegie has collapsed to starboard and almost flat to the seabed. The hatch coaming for the aft number 5 hold (4) is three-quarters complete, with a pair of bollards attached to the remarkably intact deck either side.
Among the debris, keep an eye out for bucket-sized blocks of concrete, with hoops of reinforcing bar projecting from the top. These are old shot weights used by local diver and fisherman Dave More, a previous owner of the wreck. His preferred method of diving was to ride the shot weight down!
Between the aft holds is a pair of winches (5), situated fore and aft of where the mast would have stood. The tubular supports, where the legs of the mast entered the deck, are off to either side (6).
The aft mast has fallen forwards and to port (7), across number 4 hold. Debris from the amidships superstructure has fallen across the forward edge of this hold, with the sides of the deck rising to 35m (8).
Looking beneath the deck, the starboard side of the hull has fallen outward, leaving the deck extending out above the bunker space. Most of the support for this area of deck is the engine and boilers, their strength preventing the inner bulkhead of the bunker space from being crushed.
Towards the centre-line, the remains of a deck-house (9) would have provided both ventilation and access down to the triple-expansion steam engine, the top of which can be seen among the debris.
To either side of the deck are the bunker-hatches (10), leading down to the broken-open bunker space below.
Forward of the engine is a row of three large boilers, though only the middle of the three is visible through the remains of the ventilator hatch (11). Scattered about are sections of deck grating from the engine-room and stoke-hold, a couple of ladders and fallen derricks from the boats.
Forward of the boilers, the wreck is cleanly broken across the bulkhead (12), our route forward dropping back down to the seabed at 45m for the span of number 3 hold (13). The winch that would have served the hold remains as broken spindles towards the port side.
This hold would have been a deep one within an extended superstructure, the wheelhouse and bridge being located forward of it. A stepped section across the deck marks the forward end of the superstructure. Forward from here, the wreck has fallen to port.
Steps to either side (14) lead down to the main deck. Like the aft part of the main deck, it is fairly intact, with an intact hatch coaming about number 2 hold. The forward holds are served by a trio of winches (15), with the corresponding mast (16) fallen forward and to starboard.
The deck about the forward hold slopes up slightly to the more intact bow (17), which has fallen all the way over to port. Heading across the wreck to the port side and the bow deck, the anchor-winch has slid from the deck and rests between deck and seabed (18).
Right at the bow, an extended A-frame (19) would have been swung below the bow to tow a pair of minesweeping paravanes.
Beneath the A-frame, the starboard anchor is still tight in its hawse-pipe (20).
I suspect that the port anchor is also still in place, buried beneath the fallen bow.
The curve of the bow ascends to a railing at 38m (21), an ideal point at which to release a delayed SMB and ascend.
To cover all this in one go will take a fairly long dive, and a correspondingly long decompression. The engine noise of the ferries can be quite disconcerting, although you learn later that they passed more than a mile away.
The ferry route avoids the wreck site, but could be a hazard when decompressing on the ebb tide after a high-water slack.
Thanks to Bob Lymer and Mark Deane.

NIGHT OF THE CONDOR
BARON CARNEGIE, cargo steamer. Built 1925, SUNK 1941
TWENTY-SIX MUCH IMPROVED and heavily armed Focke-Wulf FW 200C Condor maritime bombers went into action against Allied shipping at the end of 1940, writes Kendall McDonald.
The Condors were feared by convoys for their fast, low-level attacks, though carrying their four engines on their undersides made them extremely vulnerable to light anti-aircraft fire from ships.
Captain George Cumming, Master of the 3178-ton steel steamer Baron Carnegie, sailed from Milford Haven in ballast for Takoradi, Ghana, as part of Convoy OB 334 at 7pm on 10 June, 1941. He was to have his first fire-fight with an aggressive Condor that night.
The Baron Carnegie was 12 miles north of the South Bishop Light when, by the light of the full moon, a naval gunner spotted a Condor coming in low and fast astern on the port beam.
It released two bombs from its under-wing racks.
The gunners on board fired several magazines from the two Hotchkiss guns on the bridge, which Captain Cumming thought hit the aircraft.
The bombs were near-misses, with great columns of water crashing down on the stern.
From the bridge, Cumming saw the Condor swing around the side of the convoy and make a pass back across from starboard to port. The pilot dropped two more bombs, striking Baron Carnegie on number 5 hatch.
At the same time, the Condors seven crew opened up with their numerous machine-guns and cannon.
The two latest bombs brought the ship from six knots to a standstill on the smooth sea. Her shaft tunnel was hit, the propeller-shaft was pushed into the engine-room, and the hold was filling with water.
Coming down from the bridge, Cumming found that the ship was split down both sides and straight across number 3 hatch. She was upright but filling steadily. He ordered his men to abandon ship.
The boats had just cleared the ship when the Condor returned to drop three more bombs. One fell among the lifeboats, blowing the whole side out of the port boat. The second was a dud, and the third exploded in the sea.
The Condor also machine-gunned one of the lifeboats, before departing to attack other vessels.
The tug Seine tried to tow Baron Carnegie, but she sank just before midnight. Captain Cumming reported that, of the 39 crew, including the military gunners and himself, nine were killed, 16 missing and four injured.
He added that the ships confidential books were kept in the chart-room and on the bridge in a weighted box and weighted bags, and were left on board when Baron Carnegie sank.


Breech
Breech and mount of the 4in gun at the stern

steam
steam valve on top of one of the three boilers

cargo
cargo winch

Winch
Winch spindles, ladder and derrick fallen into the first hold forward

minesweeping
minesweeping gear at the bow

steps
steps forward of the bridge.

Divernet




TOUR GUIDE
GETTING THERE: Norfolkline Irish Sea Ferry Services, Liverpool (Birkenhead) to Belfast, 0870 600 4321, www.norfolkline.com. From Belfast take the M2, A26 and A2 to Portstewart.
TIDES: Slack water is essential and occurs approximately 4.5 hours after high and low water Milford Haven. Current can pick up very quickly. On spring tides, it just turns round without abating sufficiently to dive. This wreck is best dived on a low-water slack. A drifting decompression after a high-water slack could carry divers into the route of the ferry to Rosslare.
DIVING & AIR: Celtic Diving, 01348 871938, www.celticdiving.co.uk. The closest source of nitrox is West Wales Divers at Hasguard Cross, located on the B4327 to Dale from Haverford West, 01437 781457, www.westwalesdivers.co.uk.
ACCOMMODATION: B&B at Celtic Diving.
QUALIFICATIONS: Just within the range of an Advanced Nitrox/ Decompression Procedures qualification, so ideal for diving with twin-sets and accelerated decompression.
LAUNCHING: The public slip is located by Celtic Diving, just along the waterfront from the entrance to the ferry terminal in Goodwick. It dries for a couple of hours either side of low tide.
FURTHER INFORMATION: Admiralty Chart 1973, Cardigan Bay - Southern Part. Ordnance Survey Map 157, St Davids and Haverfordwest Area. Shipwreck Index of the British Isles Vol 5, West Coast and Wales, by Richard & Bridget Larn. Fishguard tourist information 01348 872037.
PROS: A wreck to rival the best of anything in the English Channel, yet hardly anyone dives it.
CONS: Ferries and big tides limit the days the wreck is accessible.


DEPTH
-20m
20m-35m
35m-45m
45m+
DIFFICULTY RATING