KendallQ

Kendall McDonald, a former Fleet Street editor, has been diving (and writing about it) for more than 45 years. He has been DIVERs wreck expert since 1960.
Tribal tribulations  

Can you give me any information about the wreck of HMS Maori in Malta Was she a New Zealand Navy ship
Kiwi Diver


Dont be misled by the name. This was one of the 16 Tribal-class destroyers of the Royal Navy built between 1936 and 1939. They were all ships of 1870 tons, built in yards in Britain, 377ft long, 36ft beam, armed with eight 4.7in, two 4in anti-aircraft guns and four 21in torpedo tubes. Maoris 44,000hp turbines could push her along at 36 knots. She took part in the action against the Bismarck and later helped sink two Italian cruisers in December 1941.
Her AA guns (and Bofors and machine guns added later) didnt save her during a German air attack on Maltas Grand Harbour at Valletta on 12 February, 1942. She received a direct hit aft from a Stuka, caught fire and partially blew up, damaging HMS Decoy which was alongside her in Dockyard Creek. The wreck of the Maori caused problems, and was lifted out of the way into St Elmo Bay, where it was allowed to settle onto the sandy seabed.
You will find it in 15m about 100m north of a small cafe below Fort St Elmo. A handy flight of steps down to the water makes this an easy shore dive. In one of my logbooks I see that my wife Penny and I last dived her in May, 1975, snorkelling out to dive through the fairly intact bow section and explore other more broken wreckage!
I noted too that she was the home of several very large tubeworms which, strangely, did not retract their tentacles even when touched. Visibility that day was a mere 80ft!
The Tribal class of destroyers was nearly wiped out during World War II - Afridi, Bedouin, Cossack, Gurkha, Mashona, Matabele, Mohawk, Punjabi, Sikh, Somali and Zulu were also lost.
Extremes of viz on British battleships  

Im planning to spend some days in Malaysia, and read recently that the warships Repulse and Prince of Wales were sunk near Tioman Island. I should like to dive them. Can you give me the exact positions of the wrecks
Philippe Tran

HMS Repulse, a battlecruiser of 32,000 tons, and HMS Prince of Wales, a battleship of 35,000 tons, were sunk by Japanese torpedo bombers on 10 December, 1941.
Diving these wrecks is generally frowned on, particularly by the Royal Navy, as they are considered to be major war graves.
Repulse took five torpedo and one bomb strike and of her crew of 69 officers and 1240 ratings, 513 men were lost in the action.
The Prince of Wales was hit by a similar number of torpedoes, and of her crew of 110 officers and 1502 ratings, 327 men were lost.
They have been dived (in 1965 and 1966 by the Navy for a survey and to replace their ensigns), and more recently there has been talk of salvage. The wrecks are some 45 miles NNE of the island of Pulau Tioman, off the east coast of Malaysia.
The Prince of Wales is at 03 34N; 104 26E and is almost completely capsized, with her shallowest part the starboard bilge keel at 46m. Visibility on the wreck is generally 15m, but can reduce to 3m in the currents which are usually present. Repulse is at 03 45N; 104 24E. Visibility is sometimes so good that it can be seen from the surface through a face mask, even though it is in 54m with the stern at 58m. It too is well capsized to port.
I am told that Kuantan Branch 0903 of the BSAC at A-2342 Jalan Kubang, Malaysia should be able to advise you.

The bells, the bells!  
How did two 18in-high bronze bells (one inscribed Cast AD1723. Recast 1906 and a makers name of Mears and Stainbank, London; the other marked Cast 1728. Recast 1913) get into the Mersey asked their finder, Ray Burn, in the last Wrecks Q & A.

The question provoked a lot of suggestions. The best, however, came from Dr Alistair Lyndon, a lecturer in marine biology at Herriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.
He is both a diver and a bell-ringer, so was doubly interested. He says Mears and Stainbank was a company specialising in bells for churches, and the forerunner of the current Whitechapel Foundry in London. He adds that bell-ringing, English-style, took off in the 16th century and bells were almost always cast in bronze, due to the clear tone when struck.
Over years of use bells lose this tone, and needed to be recast. This is likely to be the explanation for the wording on the Mersey bells. Because of their weight such bells were usually carried in ships back to their home churches, which makes a shipwreck (or two) a probability.
Now, can anyone tell Ray which ships they were


Rooster pads - you what  
Rooster pads - weve all found them on the Shirala, but what the hell were they for
Keith Hadland

Youll forgive me, Keith, but I havent the slightest idea what you mean! I know the Shirala, five miles out of Littlehampton, Sussex, of course, but rooster pads are something new to me and also to many other Shirala divers I have asked about them. Would you please describe them and send me a drawing or sketch for my next column. Or are you pulling my leg
Cream of the crop  

 An afternoon diving the German wrecks in Gutter Sound produced bags of bottles, mostly plain pickle and jam jars. We returned most of them to the seabed, but one unusually shaped jar, about 11cm high and heavily encrusted with worm tubes and algae, intrigued me. When I cleaned it up, this appeared (left). Can anyone tell me how old it is, and anything about Huntly Creamery And how did it get into Scapa Flow anyway
J Thomas, Walsall

Gutter Sound is well known as a bottle dive and the reason for that is explained by Rod Macdonald in his book Dive Scapa Flow (Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh). He says that Lyness was the main Atlantic HQ for the Navy during both world wars, so ships of all kinds were anchored just off in Gutter Sound.
Anything not wanted was ditched over the side of these ships. As a result the middle of Gutter Sound is littered with bottles and debris of all kinds sticking up out of the flat silt.
Huntly librarian Sheila Rough carried out a successful search and reports that the Aberdeenshire creamery was founded by Northern Creamery in Huntly in 1897 and exhibited its cream, cheese and butter at the London Dairy show in October of that year.
The creamery closed at the beginning of World War Two - the building is still there by Huntly Station, but in a very poor state. Mrs Rough tells me that some local people still have similar jars, which date back to the early 1900s.
Mr Thomas will be delighted to know that one like his was recently on sale in an antique shop for£12!