Virtual Social Night – Mark Powell Diving the Britannic
May 14, 2020 @ 8:00 pm - 11:00 pm
In 2016 Mark Powell was part of an international team that dived the HMHS Britannic as part of the 100 year commemoration of the sinking. Mark’s talk will cover the history of the Britannic as well as details of its exploration as well as giving an overview of what is required to put together an expedition of this type.
HMHS Britannic was the third and final vessel of the White Star Line’s Olympic class of steamships. She was the fleet mate of both the RMS Olympic and the RMS Titanic and was intended to enter service as a transatlantic passenger liner.
HMHS Britannic is considered the ‘Everest’ of wreck dives. The vessel is the largest passenger ship on the sea floor, followed by Titanic.
Over 100 years have elapsed since Captain Charles Bartlett, standing in his pyjamas on the bridge of the biggest vessel in the world, the HMHS Britannic, gave the call to abandon ship.
It was 8.35am on November 21 1916. The four-funnel ocean liner, built to be even larger and safer than the “unsinkable” Titanic, her ill-fated sister, was listing fast. Bartlett knew the ship was doomed, but on this eerily calm morning as it sailed to collect troops wounded in the first world war’s Galipolli campaign, neither he nor any of his crew could have imagined the speed with which the vessel would go down.
The explosion occurred at 8.12am, sending a giant shudder through the gargantuan vessel, badly damaging its bow as it steamed past the Greek island of Kea. Fifty-five minutes later, the 269-metre (883ft) ship lay on the seabed.
There the Britannic, which was launched in February 1914 at Belfast, and, the following year, put to use as a wartime hospital ship for the first time, would stay at a depth of 122 metres (400ft), untouched and forgotten, until being discovered by the explorer Jacques Cousteau, in 1975.
Today the Britannic lies well preserved in the Aegean. There are many reasons why this is a challenging wreck to dive; the depth of 120m, the problems in getting permissions from the Greek government, the fact it lies in a very busy shipping lane together with all the variations in weather and tides make this a pinnacle dive for anyone.