Brighton is an excellent starting off point for the numerous wrecks and reefs along the Sussex coastline. The diving around Brighton is extremely popular, catering for all grades of diver, from the novice to the experienced technical/tri-mix diver.
The wide range of dive sites out of Brighton are split broadly into three areas - inshore with depths 18-25m, intermediate at about 25-38m and offshore >39m. The English channel also has many deep wrecks over 50m, many of which are as yet unidentified, and can offer some of the best UK diving for mixed-gas divers. (Dive site information from various online sources. See Sussex Diving Club for approx. wreck and scenic site positions.)
Scenic inshore reefs and rough ground all along the coastline between Newhaven and Worthing are good for drift diving. Shallow scenic dives close to Brighton include :
Rock Tow: (13m, 3m high) has a lot of interesting ground including one large rocky outcrop, with large slab-like boulders, giving way to scrub ground to the north and west. A good drift starts here on a westerly flow.
Kingswest ledges (12 to 17m, 2m high): two areas with a series of cliffs and rock ledges, with fissures across the top, scarpment face to north, large areas of sand between ledges and an area of scrub along the bottom. Area good for novice training, drift dives and sea life including crabs, lobsters, flatties and occasional wrasse.
The far Mulberry(10m, 5m high): a phoenix unit that never made it across the channel in WW2 and is an artificial reef attracting masses of fish life.
There are too many Wreck dives to list them all. A small selection include:
Celtic (23m,3m high) Boiler, engine and scattered wreckage, very broken and partially buried.
City of Brisbane (about 20m-28m, 10m high; 7094ton 451ft by 57ft beam) A steamship sunk in 1918, the last victim to be torpedoed by the UB37. Stern broken up but rest of wreck fairly complete and covered with Dead Mens Fingers and various fish life. Many anchors.
Clan McMillan? (20m, 5m high; 4525 ton) This may be a different wreck, since a wreck in about 60m+ was positively identified as the Clan MacMillan in 2003 - see deep wrecks below. Sank in 1917. This wreck is upside down, but twisted and starting to split open with a large hole midships with access to engine room. Impressive stern section with huge prop suspended mid-water.
Miown (10m, 2m high; 379 ton) was built in 1909 and sunk in 1914. Lots of plates and the boilers stand proud of the seabed and her cargo of cement has made an artificial reef.
Oceana (about 22-25m, 8-10m high; 6610 ton, 468ft x 52ft) This P&O Liner, built in 1888, was on her way from London to Bombay in 1912 when she collided with Pisagua, a 2850-ton German four-masted steel barque. She was carrying general cargo plus a fortune of gold and silver ingots, 40 passengers and 210 crew. Most of the ingots were recovered by a diving salvage operation, although one was found in 1996, as sand/gravel moves and uncovers/covers various sections. The boilers stand about 6m above tangled wreckage. The wreck can be dived only at slack water (about 30 minutes) due to the strong tides, which mean there is usually good visibility.
Pentrych (25m, 5m high; 3381 ton) A British Steamer built in 1899 and sunk in 1918 when she was torpedoed by the UB 40 while carrying a cargo of coal. This well dived wreck with promient boilers still looks ship-like, although the sides are blown apart and it is a good dive for novices.
Ramsgarth (about 22m, 5m high; 1553 ton) The British merchantman was captured and sunk with explosives by UB39. She now lies on her starboard side with a fairly intact bow (the highest point) and stern, but collapsed mid-section. Visibility can be up to 15m.
Spitfire (15m, 3m high; 3381 ton) A single seater low-wing monoplane lying very close to the old sewage pipe.
Alauna (36m, about 23m high; 13405 ton, 520 ft long) This steel hulled Cunard Liner, built in 1913, hit a mine on the return trip from New York to London in 1916. She is now the biggest wreck on the Sussex coast and a very impressive dive despite being extensively broken up in the middle. She lies on the port side, bows pointing east, with a more or less intact wheel house.
Braunton (30-36m, 13m high; 4575 ton) The British merchantman was torpedoed in 1916 when carrying a cargo of shells and shell cases. Now the wreck lists 60 degrees on the port side, with intact bows and stern (highest point).
City of Waterford (about 30m, 10m high; 1334 ton, 270 ft long, 36 ft beam) This British steamship sank in 1949 when she collided in fog with the 5500 ton Greek steamer Marpessa. The intact wreck sits upright with lots to view as she starts to open up, although care is needed when entering due to silt. Brass valves and copper pipes are exposed in the engine room. An excellent dive with usually good visibility for an inshore site.
Fortuna (about 30m, 6m high; 1254 ton, 270ft by 36ft) This Dutch Steamship was carrying cement when she hit a mine in 1916 and 15 crew died. The wreck is fairly intact except for superstructure, although there are still some deck fittings and portholes visible. An excellent dive. It is possible to enter through the stern, though advisable to use a line-reel and take care for silt.
Vasco (about 33m, 5m high; 1914 ton, 280ft) The British Merchantman was mined in 1916 when 17 crew drowned. The wreck sits upright by a deep scour, with three big holds and a deckhouse aft. A good dive.
HMS Minion (about 46m, 1025 ton, 276ft by 26ft) A WW1 M-class destroyer launched in September 1915. These ships were typically armed with three 4-inch guns, one 2-pounder pom-pom and four 21inch torpedo tubes in pairs. She foundered under tow and sank on her way to the breakers. This frequently dived wreck lies NE-SW and the bridge has collapsed.
Nyon (about 43m, 14m high; 5364 ton, 280ft) This Swiss motor ship was carrying a cargo of cars and steel when she collided with the 6199ton Jalazad in 1962. The well broken up wreck lies east-west on a soft sand seabead, with the bows about 10m high to the west and the bridge about 14m high.
Porthkerry (about 42-46m, 10m high; 1920 ton, 280ft) This steamer, built in 1911, was torpedoed by the UB 40 in 1917 when she stopped to pickup survivors from the torpedoed Tycho (3216 tons). The captain and 7 crew from Porthkerry and the master and 15 men from the Tycho were killed. The upright wreck lies E-W in two pieces complete with superstructure, in a valley beside a high sand wave. The Tycho lies closeby.
Quail (about 41-44m, 8m high; 260ft by 30ft) This steam driven sailing ship, built 1870, was carrying meat jars and glassware when she sank after colliding with a French Merchantman, the San Martin. The upright wreck lies in two pieces with the stern to the east on a seabed renowned for crater like holes. The engines and massive ship's wheel are clearly visible.
Deep wrecks 50m+ - mostly best dived with mixed gas
Pagenturm (about 44-60m, 24m high; 5000 ton) This merchantman, built 1909, was torpedoed in her starboard side by UB 40 in 1917, killing four crew members. The wreck lies N-S, stern to N, with the decks almost vertical, guns and superstructure still in place. There is a huge scour 5-10 metres on the western side.
Clan MacMillan (62-5m, 10-12m high; 4525 tons and 396ft x 48ft,18 miles off Brighton) A 20m wreck close to Newhaven was thought to be the Clan MacMillan - see above. However, in Sept 2003 (or 2004 according to a different report!), Ian Hanness positively identified this deep wreck as the Clan Macmillan, Glasgow, by lettering on her stern and houseflag on china. The Clan Macmillan, an armed merchantman, sank in 1917. This upright wreck lies on a light silt seabed and is broken in two about 20 ft apart, where the torpedoes hit, with a large trawl net covering the break at the stern. Many holes allow access inside the wreck and a line & reel is recommended as the interior silts easily. This is a dive for experienced Tri-Mix divers.
SS Duke of Buccleuch (about 55-58m, about 5m high; 3099 ton) The 4-masted iron steamer was carrying a cargo of plates and glass wear when she sank, and many can still be found on the upright, easily naviagted wreck today. Collapsed holds can be entered with caution at the stern (highest point) while the bows are very broken up. Visibility is usually good. Launch from Littlehampton.
Glenarm Head ? information appears to relate to two different wrecks: 1) (46m, 8m high; Position approx: 50 38.6N 00 11.4W, about 10 miles from Brighton) Intact and upright wreck. 2) (52m, 10m high; Position: 50 37.0N 00 16.5W) Still intact due to depth. The Glenarmhead was a 3908 ton British armed steamer that was torpedoed by the UB30 in 1918, killing 2.
H.M.S Osprey (73m, about 50 miles from Brighton, mid-channel) An intact minesweeper lying on her port side with the bronze wheelhouse still intact including the bridge gear inside. A top dive.
Lanfranc (50m, mid channel) Torpedoed midships in 1917. An excellent dive on an upright wreck with intact bow and stern. An easy penetration at the stern leads down one deck level to a scenic area with good light streaming through many portholes and lots of fish life.
Moldavia (about 45-50m, about 20m high; 9505 ton, 521ft, 24 miles south of Littlehampton, 30 miles from Brighton) A P&O liner used as a troop ship when she was sunk by a German U boat in 1918 and 57 people died. The wreck lies on its port side with lots of debris, including live shells and empty cases. The stern (the most intact and highest part, to about 30m) has two rows of intact portholes 6 ft apart. Six inch guns on the vertical deck point to the surface. The middle has collapsed and the bows are in a poor state. Visability is often very good. An excellent challenging dive though possible to stay shallower than 40m. Good for several dives to explore this very large wreck.
The boatlaunch website has details of most launching sites around the country. Zoom in to find slipways in the area where you plan to dive.