A torpedo from UC-17 hit the Maine on the port side just in front of the bridge on the morning of 23 March 1917. At the time she was 13 miles south of Devon's Berry Head, bound for Philadelphia. The blast blew the hatches off the holds, smashed the port gig and wrecked the bridge.It also blew a great hole in her side through which seawater poured on to her cargo of chalk, horsehair and goatskins. Hoping he might beach her, Captain Bill Johnston sent distress calls and set course for the nearest land.
Location: One Mile from Bolt Head
Length : 114m Beam : 14m
Depth : 30 - 35 Viz : Has been reported at 15m
This wreck does not have a permanent marker and journey time needs to allow for shotting.
Areas of Interest
The bows have walls of hydroids and plumose anemones and the shoals of fish that seem to gather by the bows of any large wreck . One of the spectacular things about the Maine is that any part of it exposed to the currents is covered in plumose anemones. On a bright day in good visibility it is an incredibly pretty wreck. Follow either side of the wreck. Along the port side, you soon come to a break in the hull providing access to the remains of the forward holds.This is where the torpedo hit and where the wreck is most broken up. The starboard side of the hull is more intact. Follow the seabed from the bows along this side and enter the hold through a large hole at the back of No 2 hold. Just behind this are the boilers. There is an easy route from here past the boilers and into the engine room.The next bulkhead is just a vertical skeleton separating engine room from fuel tanks.The aft holds are more intact and hence sheltered from the current. Life is less prolific. Exit is easily in reach through the large open cargo hatches, but the remaining decking is tight girderwork, with gaps too small for a diver to fit through. The girders above are home to clumps of dead men's fingers and the occasional sprig of red kelp. In the centre of the hold, the propshaft tunnel is broken open but access is prevented by silt and debris.At the stern it is possible to ascend through the decks and cabins in the remains of the overhanging counter stern.By this point it is usually time to head back for the bows, unless you want to build up some heavy decompression. A fast scoot along the port railing past the remains of masts and rigging back to the engine room, follow the collapsed plates back to the forward holds and the bows. Going forward past the breaks in the hull, it is possible to explore the largely intact No 1 hold and ascend through the decks at the bows past winches and a huge anchor. With the bows in just 18m, any time left can be spent hunting for nudibranchs and watching ballan wrasse peck at the hydroids.
Due to the depth of this wreck and the currents, care must be taken when planning a dive on this wreck. Descents should be made close to slack water, however once on the bottom, a lee side to the current can be usually be found. Due to the relatively short slack periods, ascent is more comfortable using a delayed SMB, so every diver should have one in case of separation. Due to the depth of this wreck, a careful watch should be kept on no decompression limits and air supplies.