An exciting week diving a variety of wrecks left many happy smiles on our dives. Below is an excerpt from Captain Al's newsletter.
Sunday June 5th - Atlantic Divers – Astra (stern) 85’ – The Astra was a freighter sunk March 30th, 1951 after colliding with the SS Steel Inventor. The stern is fairly intact with quite a bit of relief numerous artifacts have been found over the years. Ok, that’s the description found in the book. Now for the reality. The Astra was a sister ship to both the Choppa and the Tolten, well maybe a cousin. All three ships were built in Denmark and although the Astra was a bit longer (333’ vs. 280’ and 292’) with a much higher gross tonnage, the deck plans are almost identical. Small house in the stern, spare propeller stored on deck just forward of that, a large shaft alley running under the after cargo hold, a deck house and bridge, forward of that the forward cargo hold and bow. Now unlike the Tolten that was carrying fertilizer when Otto von Bulow in the U404 put a torpedo in her leaving her holds now empty the Astra was carrying general cargo, including “Kelly bars” (actually babbitt, the metal used to make shell bearings), electrical supplies (glass insulators and the like) and automobile parts. She was also the newest of the three built in 1945 where as the Choppa was built in ’37 and the Tolten in ’38. Like the Tolten she was steam turbine powered and unfortunately also like the Tolten her round portholes, which are still lying around were steel, no-one however has found any of the bridge windows which on the Tolten were impressive bronze rectangular pieces. Can you tell this wreck had me just a little enthused, I had all three of Gary’s books open (North the Choppa, Central the Tolten and South the Astra) in the cabin pointing out the similarities to any one that would listen. This wreck needs some loving with a scooter; there is a lot to be found here. Oh by the way did I mention I know the area where ships china was found on both the Choppa and the Tolten?
Monday June 6th – Atlantic Divers – Lemuel Burrows 85’ – Our original destination was to have been the San Jose’ but a last minute cancelation left Gene a diver or two light so we went to the closer in Burrows instead. Gene had also mentioned that some fifteen years ago or so he had spotted what appeared to be the auxiliary helm in the stern. Two in one trip? I didn’t think so but before we left the dock that morning I grabbed 1500lbs of lift bags and another set of tanks out of my truck, hey you never know. No, he couldn’t find it on his dives but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. As I’ve said there is so much to the Burrow’s it would literally take years of careful exploration to really cover the whole thing.
John Copeland and I did an 800 foot swim on the Lemuel Burrows. The helm remains covered and camophlaged in the wreckage after fifteen years since I first discovered it. We return this fall to do more uncovering.
Wednesday June 8, 2011 we dived the Varanger. Leaving the inlet we were unable to go the the Northern Pacific due to the wind direction. Well worth the change, we explored the torpedoed tanker where visibility exceeded 60 feet to 100 feet on the surface and over forty feet below the thermocline. Lobster and scallops were abundant. Brian and Rusty scored an excessive amount of pipe mungo. Atlantic Divers' exploring the site included Steve Lagreca, Bill Teague, Mike Nugent, Lee Nugent and John Copeland
Good Wreck Diving!