Local Dive Site Guide: HMS Scylla

April 18, 2024 4 min read

hms scylla being sunk

Here at Aquanauts, we’re especially lucky to have so many incredible dive sites in easy reach near local shores. From spectacular reefs to historic wreck dives, Plymouth and the surrounding area offers a huge breadth of unique diving experiences and, where the latter is concerned, few sites are as noteworthy as wreck turned artificial reef HMS Scylla.

The 27th of March 2024 marked 20 years since HMS Scylla sank and with this notable anniversary comes the perfect opportunity to uncover why this local dive site is such a special experience. Read on to discover everything you need to know about Scylla and embark on a wreck dive to be remembered.

Key Details

Dive site name: HMS Scylla

Location: Whitsand Bay, South Cornwall

Description: Wreck dive

Length: 113 metres

Depth: 24 metres to the seafloor

Site Guide

HMS Scylla is not only a wreck, but also an artificial reef. A Leander frigate, it served the Royal Navy for 25 years until 1993 when it was decommissioned and sat in dry dock until 2004 when it was bought using South West of England Regional Development Agency funding. Scylla was then purposely sunk off Whitsand Bay by The National Marine Aquarium to create Europe's first artificial reef. Scientific studies on the colonisation of the reef indicate that the reef has over 250 species of marine life recorded, making the artificial reef a success.

At 133 metres long, Scylla makes a great dive! The external deck and bow are both covered in soft corals, scallops and shoals of fish congregating at the artificial reef. Additionally, the nutrient-rich waters of the bay mean the reef is the perfect breeding ground for numerous species and dolphins are often spotted on the dive boat at the surface due to Scylla’s proximity to Plymouth Sound.

Tips For Diving HMS Scylla

The most important thing to bear in mind when diving HMS Scylla is that it is a closed wreck and penetration of Scylla has been strictly forbidden since 2014 due to deterioration and safety risks.

The National Marine Aquarium issues ongoing guidance to all divers visiting HMS Scylla: “It is the National Marine Aquarium’s considered opinion that the interior of HMS Scylla wreck is unsafe for diving and that no one should penetrate the wreck during diving activities.”

As well as ensuring that you do not penetrate the Scylla wreck, typical wreck diving guidance applies when diving here. Make sure that you have completed the relevant speciality training and have carefully planned your dive before heading out. Doing your research and preparation first will not only ensure your safety but also help you to enjoy visiting this dive site to the fullest. If you’re not sure where to start, you could always join us on a scheduled boat trip and visit Scylla with the experts from Aquanauts.

Essential Kit

Having the right kit is also an essential part of preparing for any wreck dive - and preparing to dive Scylla is no different! Alongside your standard scuba kit, it’s worth investing in some specialist items for a trip to Scylla and any further wreck diving you plan to undertake. Our top kit recommendations are:


While you won’t be penetrating Scylla and therefore won’t need to light up a route through the interior of the wreck, having a good dive torch is still essential for this site. The nature of a wreck means that visibility can be limited and the water surrounding Scylla can get murky. A bright and mid-sized option like the Orca Torch D520 is always a safe bet - it won’t weigh you down but will be plenty bright enough to allow you to really see the beauty of both the artificial reef and Scylla itself as you explore its exterior.


Wrecks come with the added risk of getting caught or tangled and therefore you must enter the water with a suitable dive knife. Go for one with both a straight and serrated edge like the Beaver Assassin to cover all eventualities. You can effortlessly strap this to your calf so that it doesn’t get in the way but is there within easy reach should you need it.

Wing BCD

Buoyancy is one of the greatest challenges when wreck diving and something that you should always master before taking on a new challenge. Generally speaking, wing BCDs are a great choice for wreck diving as they offer greater buoyancy control in comparison to a more beginner-level BCD. We’re particularly big fans of the XDeep NX Zen System BCD for tackling Scylla as it offers a redesigned wing system which elevates your sitting position to offer a more stable dive.

We’re sure you’ll have an awesome experience exploring Scylla, but if you have any additional questions about visiting, would like to join us for a guided boat dive, or need advice when it comes to the best equipment to take with you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team!

Image Copyright: The Ships Project

Jennifer Thomas
Jennifer Thomas

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