We were taking our time examining the system when my buddy Eddie signalled to me. Beside the tubes in the sand he had located a torpedo, its propeller protruding from the sand. I couldn’t help thinking that we had been lucky not to put the shot onto the thing!
We continued towards the bow of the wreck, spotting one object after the other, my camera working away like crazy.
Left: A depth-charge, ready for use! Right: An original depth-charge thrower.
We stopped as we found a depth-charge launcher with a depth charge attached, ready to fire its 100kg or so of explosives. I had seen photographs before during my researches, but to be seeing the real thing was cool.
In some areas the wreck is covered in sand, but on its port side midships it rises about 8m from the seabed – a spectacular sight, especially with so many intact portholes, complete with glass.
As we approached the bow, I bumped into one of the 120mm cannon, which had fallen on its side. When Eddie gave scale to the barrel, it became clear how huge this gun was. I tried to get the entire weapon into frame, but this was not easy, given that we were in the Dover Straits rather than the Caribbean.
At the very tip of the bow, which has broken off to lie at a 45° angle, was a beautiful big anchor, inspiring more pictures. However, my buddy was on open-circuit, and his time had come to turn back to the shot. Around midships he signalled again – he had found the remains of one of the ship’s telegraphs.
Brazen is now a protected site, so of course we left this where it was and moved on. That’s when I saw the brass loading tubes of one of the 40mm guns.
Unfortunately the rest of the gun was hidden under the seabed, but because the sands at this location are moving all the time, who knows? It might reappear at some point.
Eddie surfaced, but because I was on my rebreather I decided to follow Richie’s reel and see where he was. He had gone into the part of the wreck you could still penetrate to explore.
Top: The purser’s fan; Above: Pennies from the purser’s safe. Recovered items shown date from the time before the wreck was a protected site, and all were declared to the Receiver of Wreck.
After silting out, we turned back out of the wreck. The tide had turned, and the current was getting stronger, so we called it a dive. It had made a beautiful start to an adventurous week.
Dive buddy Paul Wilkin later told me a story about his first dive on HMS Brazen, nine years ago, before it became a protected site and far more intact then.
Paul entered the wreck, and found the purser’s room, complete with ceiling fan. He also found the purser’s safe, which was duly salvaged. What was strange was that inside the safe were not sailors’ valuables, but only some pennies.
Why that should be remains one of HMS Brazen’s secrets!