Oman: Wreck Diving on the World War II Wreck “City of Winchester”

by    DiveSSI    20th November 2019
city_of_westminster_wreck
Brithish Cargo Steamer "City of WInchester"
Kreuzer Königsberg zerschossen
SMS Königsberg (c) Bundesarchiv, Figure 105-DOA3002 / Walther Dobbertin / CC-BY-SA 3.0
2_Hallaniyat_c_Snapshotdxb
Hallaniyat Islands (c) snapshotdxb / Wikimedia

First dive to the wreck on "Oman Explorers" New Year's Eve trip

The British Cargo Steamer "City of Winchester" was the first shipwreck of the First World War. In recent years, dives to the wreck near the Hallaniyat Islands at a depth of 30 meters have been prohibited. After long negotiations with government agencies of Oman, the diving ban has now been lifted.

On the way home from her maiden voyage, the "City of Winchester" was sunk by the German Navy on the evening of August 12, 1914. The crew of the 6,608-ton colossus was allowed to leave the ship, but the cargo, consisting of tea and antlers, was sunk together with the nearly 140 -meter-long steamer and lay undisturbed on the seabed until 1986. A few divers of the only civilian dive club in Oman "stumbled" over the unknown ship. The wreck was identified at the end of the 1990s by the British diver Steve Dover during a dive near the Hallaniyat Islands off the east coast of Oman.

The "City of Winchester" was captured on the evening of 6 August 1914 by the "SMS Königsberg", a light cruiser of the Imperial Navy. A German crew took over the ship and made its way to the Hallaniyat Islands off the coast of Oman. Five days later, the crew of the "City of Winchester" was transferred to a German passenger ship. Subsequently, the coal reserves of the hijacked ship were reloaded on the "SMS Königsberg". The coal transfer was completed on the afternoon of August 12, 1914, and explosives were detonated in the engine room of the "City of Winchester." To speed up the sinking, the "SMS Königsberg" fired three shots into the hull of the cargo ship.

As the only liveaboard vessel, the Extra Divers “Oman Explorer” is now allowed to dive the wreck - and that should guarantee many exciting dives: In addition to masses of fish and the associated predators, large and small groupers, huge barracudas and sheer endless mackerel swarms, the wreck itself offers some surprises. The wreck has become an artificial reef over the years and is full of life. Twenty years ago, Steve Dover noted that the City of Winchester is regularly visited by dolphins and the local population of humpback whales.

Written by
DiveSSI
Date
20th November 2019
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