H.M.S Hermes - Expedition III - (www.DiveSriLanka.com)
By Dharshana Jayawardena.

June 19th, 20th& 21st of 2008
Depth: 53 Meters. (Technical Decompression Dive)

The Hermes burns after taking 40 direct hits - April 9th 1942

From 53 Meters another glimpse of the H.M.S Hermes after 66 years

The day had finally come. After a hiatus of almost three years we were again at the door step of the god of boundaries and of those who cross them.

In the east coast of Sri Lanka, 8 KM off the coastal city of Batticaloa, we are now anchored on the H.M.S Hermes, the worlds first purpose built air craft carrier, made by the British and sunk by the Japanese on April 9th 1942 at the height of World War II.

The sea is dead calm and there is not a ripple. The sun is high in a clear blue sky that is only less bluer than the gin clear water that we soon and gladly plunge into. The descent is fast. As always there is not much time to loose. The visibility is easily 20 to 30 meters. At a depth of 30 meters speckles of white from the forests of black coral trees and a large school of Fusiliers give away the lurking leviathan of the deep. We had arrived at the great ship.

The bridge and the conning tower.

Top of the tower.

At 53 Meters we take our first pictures as narcosis slowly seeps into our brains and dulling their functions. It is in this dream like world that we explore the massive ship wreck during the days of the expedition. We explore three different parts of the ship even though each dive is so short and not more than 20 - 25 minutes of bottom time as we are diving on compressed air.

The world seems darker here and a cold water current pushes us away from the keel towards the flat landscape sporadically adorned with beautiful growths of soft coral. it seems that the fish here have hardly encountered humans, for they never seem too shy and move away from our path. Yet this is not the best fish life we have seen here. During Expedition II in the month of September we have seen much more interesting & supremely abundant fish life. It seems May & June are the months for good visibility yet the time for fish in less numbers.

One of the lower deck guns.

Base of the gun.

The stern of the ship

From the sand plain at 53 Meters we observe the remnants of the stern.

As we swim along we are thrilled to discover landmark locations. At the aft, a huge propeller stands upright. This is a final confirmation for us that the ship is truly lying on its deck. It is an exciting moment in which we cannot linger for long. We make our way to the stern and examine the cavern beneath. It is completely covered by sand and debris. Had it not, the cavern would have been much more cavernous and a door away to a world beyond. A forbidden world that has entrapped the remains of almost 300 brave sailors.


One of the three giant propellers.

Diver Ricardo Caivano by the propeller

A Gun, presumably an Anti Air Craft Gun that was on deck

Colorful coral on the vast amount of debris - the result of bomb damage.

Massive entrances to the lower decks

A diver swims over towards the keel

On our final day we encounter a lower deck gun. It is still in amazingly good condition. As we swim South/East along the keel we see a mass of rubble. It is the remains of the superstructure! We see the bridge and the conning tower. The very top of it is still in tact and lying on the sandy rubble at 53 Meters

The giant wheel that sits atop the conning tower

The wheel from the sandy plain at 53 Meters

The wheel from above as we leave the bottom.

Large pipes and wires are still visible to this day sixty years later.

Life, out side the Hermes. We missed the pelagic's of later months

Life, within the debris of the Hermes

A port hole

The keel of the ship running S/E and N/W

Left: Large black coral trees cover the entire
H. M.S Hermes and is a beautiful sight.

A life buoy?

Magnificent trees of black corals like no other dive site in Sri Lanka

A diver looks over the keel
Some trees of black coral are gigantic

Diver Ajith Fernando floating above the forests of Black Coral

Diver Nishan Perera fulfilling his long decompression obligation.

The time has come to for us to depart and initiate the excruciatingly long decompression sequence. However no effort is too much for an audience in the presence of H.M.S Hermes. For it is a journey in the dimension of depth as well as time.

A time when this mighty ship was the king of the seven seas along with the heroic subjects who served on its deck.

Jelly fish keep us company during the long decompression stops

The skipper jumps in to check on us occasionally.

The large Jellyfish are harmless, beautiful & fascinating.

The support crew observe and help us during the deco stops

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