Type: Wreck Tonnage: 3616 tonnes Length: 375ft Cargo:
Date Lost: 23rd March 1917 How Lost: Torpedoed by the U boat UC-17 and sunk just offshore from Soar Mill Cove.
Max Depth Seabed: 34m Depth to top of Wreck: 24m
Minimum Qualification: Deep Speciality
The Maine was "discovered" by Torbay BSAC in 1961. They own the wreck having paid 100 pounds for her. The club salvaged the bronze propeller, and in 1983 they brought up the spare iron propeller off her deck, which is now displayed in a shopping centre in Paignton.
Although the ship was robust she is beginning to deteriorate however, there is a lot to see on this wreck. The bows are the shallowest part and still support a loading gantry on the tip. There is a large anchor on the outside and the first hold supports a large population of marine life. The engine room is well exposed and the boilers are massive while her stern section is largely intact.
Diving the wreck:
Port side: Along the port side, a break in the hull will become quickly visible, providing access to the remains of the forward holds where the UC-17s torpedo hit.
Starboard side: On the starboard side of the wreck the hull is more intact. Follow the seabed from the bow and enter the hold through a large hole at the back of No 2 hold.
Inside the wreck: If you want to explore inside the wreck there is an easy route from here past the boilers and into the engine room (which is now largely open from above). There are some girders to manoeuvre past, but you are never more than a few metres from an exit.
The next bulkhead is just a vertical skeleton separating engine room from fuel tanks. A short diversion here is to swim through the remains of the triple-expansion steam engine before carefully slipping through a gap in the bulkhead into the fuel tanks. Powerful dive lights illuminate a pair of colourful ladders in the middle of the tanks.
The aft holds are more intact and, as such, are sheltered from the current. Exit is easily in reach through the large open cargo hatches, but the remaining decking is tight girderwork, with gaps too small for a diver to fit through.
The girders above are home to clumps of dead men's fingers and the occasional sprig of red kelp. In the centre of the hold, the propshaft tunnel is broken open but access is prevented by silt and debris.
At the stern it is possible to ascend through the decks and cabins in the remains of the overhanging counter stern to examine the steering gear, then look down to the seabed to view debris from the stern and the gun platform.
By this point it is usually time to head back for the bows, unless you want to build up some heavy decompression. A fast scoot along the port railing past the remains of masts and rigging brings me back to the engine room, where I can follow the collapsed plates back to the forward holds and the bows.
Going forward past the breaks in the hull, it is possible to explore the largely intact No 1 hold and ascend through the decks at the bows past winches and a huge anchor.