Sunday, 4 November 2012

Dive 4 – Big Brother Aida Wreck

Built in France in 1911, the 75m long Aida was a troop /cargo ship which foundered and sank on the island in 1957.

aida old

On 15 September 1957 the crew of the Aida were attempting to unload her cargo and disembark replacement lighthouse staff onto the pier at Big Brother. However, bad

BBA Remains of Pier

the pier (not in good condition)
seen from underwater

weather caused the ship to strike the rocks and she soon began to sink. A tugboat took off the crew and lighthouse personnel. During the storm the ship drifted a few hundred metres northwest before her bows finally embedded themselves into the reef. As the stern sank, it came to rest at an extremely steep angle on the reef, the bow section breaking off and eventually breaking up on the reef top. No lives were lost when the ship eventually sank.

aida map

Whilst there is some wreckage close to the top of the reef, the main part of the wreck starts at 30m and the stern is at 60m. The

40m line is just before the stern holds start and just past the main section of the super structure.

Because it sank on the edge of the plateau at about 8m deep past the northern end of the island, the dive plan calls for a very negative Rib Entry directly over the wreck to ensure you sink so fast past the plateau that if the split point of the current is in the wrong place, it did not get a chance to sweep us on to the plateau and then out to sea on the other side of the island. Despite the planning and 2 extra Kg on top of the normal wet suit 8 kg to ensure a rapid entry, I got dropped just over the plateau and had to fin very hard to get to the edge and then drop down into the shelter of the reef wall, the split point of the current being on the wrong side of the wreck.

BBA Edge

This is the view over the edge of the plateau wall before dropping down

BBA Edge Upwards

and this is the view looking upwards towards the small elements of the wreck which are in shallow waters.

Down at around 25 to 30m, the wreck is is quite good condition with

BBA Aida 1

elements of the structure easily visible.

BBA Aida 5

BBA Aida 2BBA AIda 3 BBA AIda 4

these are the davits which also can be seen on the plan above

BBA AIda 6 BBA AIda 7 BBA AIda 8

Following an exploration of those parts of the wreck which were above my planned depth for this dive (30m), it was a drift back to the boat. I suspect that one could descent to 40m without much of a problem but deco limits will soon come into play.

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