Wreck of SS Exmouth discovered off Eyemouth

AFTER a successful few years for Eyemouth's Marine Quest, another wreck has been found in the North Sea.

The business run by father-son team Jim and Iain Easingwood, took a number of divers on the North Star last Friday despite awful weather throughout the week.

The party travelled approximately 40 miles offshore, with the intention of locating and diving the WW1 tanker Desabla. As people in Berwickshire know all too well, the weather that week hadn't been kind at all, but after torrential rain and high winds, the party spotted a window of nice weather and set sail.

They used the North Star's echo sounder to locate the biggest wrecks in the vicinity and divers reported that they could see the outline of the wreck from 25 metres - far better visibility than expected.

The ship was lying upright and intact in a west-east orientation in general depths of 53m with the bridge area at 38m.

Marine Quest's Iain Easingwood said that what they came across was very different to what they were expecting.

He said: "It was a bit puzzling when the divers reported seeing empty open holds when we were expecting oil tanks, pipes and valves.

"The bow was broken and lying over to starboard and has three guns, what looks like a large calibre weapon and two machine guns.

"Below the bridge area, off the starboard side and on the seabed was a 'gun tub' with what looked like an Oerlikon or 20mm cannon, at the rear of the bridge on the port side was a matching intact tub complete with net covered gun.

"Moving forward into the bridge itself the compass binnacle, steering pedestal and telegraphs were found still in place. There were portholes everywhere, and some large bakelite batteries stamped 'Titan Radio'. With another two guns on the stern she looked very well armed and more modern than we had expected."

It started to become apparent that maybe the divers had stumbled across a different wreck from the one they had originally set out to find and their suspicions were confirmed with their next discovery.

Divers recovered a number of pieces of crockery but they didn't say 'Bank Line' as expected and had the markings of the 'American Export Lines'.

Iain said that after some research the group decided that the vessel they'd come across wasn't the Desabla but in fact the SS Exmouth mined in 1944.

She was owned by American Export Line and en route New York, when she strayed into the British defensive minefield and was mined and sunk on July 31 that year.

And all that means that the Desabla, for the moment, remains undiscovered although Iain said that he hopes it won't be long before divers find the vessel they were originally looking for.

"We'd done a bit of research before hand and thought we'd picked out the right boat to look for. But you can never be 100 per cent sure on where a vessel is going to be so we've got a few trips lined up for the coming months to try and find the Desabla.

"The wreck diving off the east coast of Scotland is as good as anywhere else in the country and remains largely untapped. I reckon that there are still another 50 or 60 boats out there yet to be found."

The divers involved in the Exmouth discovery were: Steve Adams, Shane Wasik, Ross Coventry, Tina Aydon, John Nicholson, Jeremy Cameron, Neil Masson, Warren Izzett and Meeko.