Another cracking video from the dive by Pete Baker
The J-class submarines were seven submarines developed by the British Navy prior to WW1. The objective for these submarines was to be able to keep up with the Navy’s fleet of ships. However, though more powerful than previous submarines, the J-class subs were still unable to keep up. On 15 October 1918 J6 was on patrol on the surface outside her base, Blythe, off the Northumberland coast when she was spotted by the Q-ship Cymric. The captain of the Cymric Lieutenant F Peterson RNR mistakes the identity lettering on the conning tower of J6 for U6. Assuming U6 to indicate a German U-boat, Peterson raised the White ensign and opens fire on J6. J6 tried to signal, but the signalman is killed. J6 flees into a fog bank, but Cymric locates J6 again. After a number of direct hits, J6 sinks. It is only after the survivors are seen in the water that Peterson and the crew of Cymric realise their mistake and recover the survivors. Of the 45 crew of J6 15 were killed; a subsequent court of enquiry found that no action should be taken against Peterson. An order under the Official Secrets Act prohibited mention of this incident until 1969… credit to IWM for info.
Neil and I headed off early Saturday morning to MarineQuestHQ in Eyemouth. A 4.30 am start had been called for as the mission to sail over 50 miles out into the North Sea to the North East Bank in the hope to catch the slack and dive the wreck of the J6 submarine demanded it.
My immediate mission though was to recover from Neil’s snoring, he had been sleeping in the room below me, it was like the Canadian lumberjack squad were practising down there, so with less than 10 minutes sleep under my belt we headed off to Eyemouth, moon still in the sky 😀 😀
We were both very excited, and for sure its a rare occurrence to get a chance to dive a wreck like the J6. Neil’s own words to me as we sat there were “you know Mark, fewer people will have seen this submarine than have scaled Everest” N.Farmer 2019 😀 It’s a fact but according to the stories of late, fewer people have been up the Eiffel tower ….. 😀
The J6 sits in 69m of water and is remote for a small dive vessel like the Jacob George but the forecast was mint and we were going for it ! Neil and I were treating it very seriously and were unsure on a plan. However the boat was full of all the usual faces, a friendly group of battle hardened North Sea divers. We were in very good hands , ideal in fact for any advice we would need. Several hours sailing later and we were in position above the wreck, the plan was to drop the shot near the conning tower and if Iain missed then Brian Goddard, Legend of the North Sea 😀 would position a line from the shot to guide us on the wreck so as not to waste any bottom time. Iain, “shot line sniper” dropped the shot and we waited for slack. Soon the top boys were dropping off the back and heading down to the wreck to sort it all out.
A short while later it was time Neil and I were heading down .. Iain put the boat into position and off the back we went … dropping first to the easy shot, leaving our markers before heading down to the wreck. We arrived to find the shot bang centre of the wreckage ! the sniper nailed it again . The conditions were good and visibility amazing !!
The submarine was big ! way bigger than the U12 and the U74. I cannot compare it to the K-boats as even though I had dived them last year .. the viz was so bad that weekend that I had touched them then ran scared back up the shot 😀
But today was different !! Neil and I cruised up the big sub in 15m+ visibility taking in the conning tower, port holes , periscope and all in scary fish netted glory … far too soon it was back to the shot to head up and start the long decompression plan.
Hanging around the trapeze we looked on as a young Sam Broom nailed his MOD. He had been with Marinequest all week training with Steve Sanders, top instructor and the Vegan king of the North Sea 😀 Sam has been hitting all the bucket list dives in training !! Its all waiting for this young lad 🙂 A name to watch out for !
With divers on long deco it gets busy around the trapeze but for fear of a whacking great 11 litre batting you one it certainly keeps you from nodding off 😀
A spot of 6m meditation and soon Neil and I were free from any deco obligations and we headed to the surface to be picked up by the North Seas finest , sorry Iain but legend of the North Sea is already taken and I am seriously running out of names here 😀 😀
All in all another day to add to the list of BEST DAYS EVER !!!!! thanks to all involved . BLOODY MAGIC !!
I have been researching the J6 submarine for many years. I am pleased to learn that you enjoyed your dive. Could you please let me have still and moving images of the interior of the vessel?
I’m sorry but to explore inside would be impossible due to both the design and condition of the wreck.
Thanks for your response. I had the crazy idea that you could poke your cameras and lights through the holes in the vessel! But what do I know!
Hi Pauline , next time I dive it I will try to get you a little footage through a window if I can ??