Dive the British Sergeant (www.DiveSriLanka.com)
A lush haven of life shrouded in momentous events of history
Vakarai (Kayankerni, Mankerni)


By Dharshana Jayawardena.

Depth: 24 Meters

British Sargeant
British Sergeant
   

01/10/2011: In two fantastic dives we measure the width of the ship hull to be 19 Meters (a large error on the greater side is expected because of obstructions and other measuring errors). The width of the British Sergeant is 16.5 Meters. The ship lies within the last reported sinking location and certain parts of the ship bare a strong resemblance to the archived pictures. Hence this is ascertained as the wreck of the British Sergeant.

There was a theory that this could be the SS Norviken. However we believe that that ship burnt too badly off Tirrikkovil and cannot be this ship.

10/09/2011: We pull ourselves down the anchor line fighting a stiff current. Suddenly we could see the sea floor, a vast creamy canvass contrasting against the emerald plankton rich waters. But where is the ship? At the same time the stunning realizations dawns on us. Its not the sea floor we are looking at. Its the hull of a vast ship.

This ship is big. Really big ship.

As we reach about 18M an enormous cavern becomes visible. It is possible to swim through this gigantic cave like structure and appear from the other side of the ship. The cavern itself is very dark yet we see the silhouette of shoals of fish against the streaming sun light.

We come out of the cavern and swim over what we presume is the bow of the ship. The ship appears turned upside down. Slowly we drift with the current and head towards the stern along the keel. Suddenly the ship abruptly ends. Here one is forgiven to think that it all ends here. This is it.

But its not. Thankfully the visibility is good enough that we see a looming structure about 10m away from the end. We drift further and arrive on what appears to be the second part of the ship. it seems to be long and large as the first part. Later we come across eye witness accounts of two ships that broke apart and sank in the region. They are the British Sergeant and SS Norviken. Both sunk in battle along with the world famous H.M.S Hermes, the worlds first purpose built air craft carrier.

The second part of the ship is full of penetration points and windows. One large compartment is almost like a abandoned church. here sunlight streams through a multitude of windows to illuminate a ball of trevally and snappers who seem to eternally circle in a resting formation. Perhaps seeking refuge from predators in the open ocean.

Soon we are at the end of the second segment. Here it appears to be the stern. Yet we are not sure. The identity of the ship is still uncertain.

Theory is that this could be the British Sergeant or the Norviken. (Subsequently this is ascertained to be the British Sergeant)

   

Between the two broken parts - swimming towards the stern

The stern
   

The SS Norviken - this theory is now considered debunked
Batfish
A troop of friendly Batfish inhabit the stern side of the wreck

From the stern towards the bow
 
On the way to the bow (picture taken upside down)
 

Looking towards the stern

A large metal contraption

Side of the hull near the bow. Here the ship seems upside down

Amidships - the hull with the keel on top
   

Towards the bow

At the bow
   

Just before the bow; a voluminous cavern

The cavern
   

At the massive entrance

Over the massive entrance

The plates on the hull bear a similarity to British Sergeant

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Photo Credits: (c) www.DiveSriLanka.com