Dive the Brennus Shoal Wrecks - (www.DiveSriLanka.com)
SS Brennus (1881) and Sir John Jackson (1908) - Also known as the Batticaloa Boiler Wreck(s)


By Dharshana Jayawardena.

Depth: 9 Meters

SS Brennus (1881) SS Sir John Jackson (1908)
SS Brennus
Five boilers of the SS Brennus (Fire tube boilers)
Sir John Jackson
Few meters North/East of the SS Brennus lies the Sir John Jackson

It all started with the SS Brennus.

On the 7th of July 1881, the SS Brennus was en route to London from Vizagapatam, Madras when it ran aground few miles off Batticaloa on a shoal of shallow rocks that the Master of the ship had no idea they were there. Henceforth this shoal of rocks were to be known as Brennus Shoal.

Just after the 53 Meter plunge to the Hermes another dive seems unthinkable. Yet this Wreck seems to be perfectly located right on the way back from from the Hermes and more importantly, at the perfect depth for the bags of Nitrogen we are! After diving the worlds first purpose built air craft carrier an hour ago; diving an unidentified and obliterated wreck is without doubt a bit of an anti-climax. But the Boiler Wreck does not disappoint. In fact it is a very gratifying and fun dive for any diver regardless of whether Hermes dominated the equation.

In the sunlit shallows this is a wonderland. The wreck is strewn over a large area. One thing is immediately clear. This was once one big ship. The most interesting part is the four large boilers close together almost in perfect formation. A long shaft, presumably the crankshaft ends with a magnificent propeller. It is almost the size of the propeller found at the Hermes.

In any direction, lies a large debris field of grotesque & twisted shapes now melting almost seamlessly into the sea scape; effects of the turbulent shallows making sure that all but the sturdiest parts of the wreck remained for posterity. Some parts of the ship provide passages for swim troughs, and also provides hinges on which colorful and beautiful soft coral grow; covered with an equally beautiful swarm of Basslets (antheas).

For the new diver just finishing the Open Water course, this is indeed a magnificent dive to start his or her venture into the deep. For the experienced diver it is a relaxing and interesting dive.

Back to the propeller shaft and the propeller. In our reckoning the ship lies West to East (Stern to Bow). From the propeller if one swims with the compass set to North East, they would suddenly be in another large debris field. Yes it is another ship!

The SS John Jackson

It was September 27th 1908 off the coast of Batticaloa. Shortly before 8.00 PM Sir John Jackson enroute to France ran aground and a desperate move to reverse her engines proved to be of no avail.

Thus She foundered.

Today the ship we believe to be the John Jackson lies along with the ship we also believe to be the SS Brennus. These are the only two ships that sank in this area. The ship that we call the John Jackson is so called because the wreck has only three boilers and is of a single screw triple expansion engine.

The wreck of the John Jackson is very similar to the Brennus in many ways. It seems the shallow waters and fierce monsoons make quick work of the ships reducing them from functional vessels of commerce to dysfunctional jumble of debris that is strewn over a large area.

The John Jacksons bow area is highly damage. As mentioned, the three boilers, parts of the engine, the propeller shaft, the propeller lying on the ground horizontally can be seen. Also past the propeller is a rocky reef which we believed the John Jackson ran aground on .

All in all this is a fantastic dive sites with two ships in close proximity. For those who are patient and would like to dive deep into the history this is one wonderful dive indeed.

The massive propeller is a sight to behold
Sir John Jackson Boilers
Two of the three boilers of the Sir John Jackson (Fire Tube Boilers)
SS Brennus engine and boilers Sir John Jackson Propellar
Propeller of the Sir John Jackson
SS Brennus hull RocksThe rocks that may have brought down the Sir John Jackson
SS Brennus mast
SS Brennus Mast Head

SS Brennus hull
Hull of the SS Brennus
SS Brennus
At the end of one of the Brennus propeller shafts
SS Brennus
Parts of the crankshaft
SS Brennus crankshaft
A massive crankshaft

The long shaft runs through a considerable distance of the sea floor

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