Malin Head: The Giant’s Graveyard

Wreckdiving in Ireland

The deep crystal-clear waters off Malin Head in Ireland were once a navigation route for wartime convoys and after two World Wars the seabed is now a graveyard for super-size wrecks. In the first of 4 mini stories we look at the SS Laurentic, a liner that was enroute to the USA at the height of World War 1 when she struck 2 mines and sank in 40 metres of water, tragically killing over 350 of her crew.

In her holds were 43 tons of gold to pay for war supplies, valued then at more than US$ 8 million and now equivalent to a staggering US$ 1.8 billion!  Most was recovered but 20 bars remain unaccounted for, today worth approximately US$ 10 million! Even though the inshore water here is green, visibility still exceeds 15 metres allowing us to see the whole of the picturesque bow.

Extensive salvage has left the wreck broken up and quite flat, but it is still easy to appreciate the huge scale of this 172-metre-long liner. Swimming aft, numerous compass jellyfish serenely hover a few feet above the wreck, and we eventually reach an intact deck gun before finding row after row of the giant boilers which provided the huge power needed to propel this classic steamer across the Atlantic. After a century underwater, this atmospheric wreck simply teems with life.

Thanks to Steve Jones