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

May 27-30 2010
Depth: 53 Meters. (Technical Decompression Dive)

One of the two starboard side anchors still in its hold

Unexploded Ordinance still remain to this day!

The monsoons hit the West Coast. Diving stopped and the seas got rough and ugly.

So we waited and listened.

Then we heard it. It was the call of the Hermes.

As it happened every year for the last five years, since we had mounted expedition I and II back in 2005, Hermes called again. You can never dive the Hermes only once and stop. Some would call it a curse.

We call it a blessing; and it was time to be blessed again. Time to look back on the bad weather of the West Coast and move to the East Coast.

As our two fishing boats raced over the beautiful Batticaloa lagoon toward the vast yet calm open sea of the eastern Indian ocean, our hearts raced too. There was something indescribably exotic about Baticaloa. Wild, beautiful and yet pristine. A fitting land for the final resting place of the greatest ship in Sri Lanka. The H.M.S Hermes.

Soon we were in our descent to the old ship.The water is beautifully blue and clear. The visibility must be about 30M today. Our anchor rests near one of the Anti-Aircraft guns slightly forward amidships.

The objective of the first day is to explore the bow of the ship. As we drift with the current we see (and this time photograph) the two starboard side anchors of this ship. They are large and well encrusted to their hold. As we swim over a gently sloping valley that seem to separate the bow into two distinct regions, we see a large school of Snappers congregated on part of a ship that is high on to the left. As usual the bow is beautiful; made so by the thick forests of Black Coral against a dark blue canvass of deep water of beyond and yonder.

On the second day we are amidships exploring many of the guns that now lay scattered over the collapsed ship. The box of unexplored ordinance remain as it is; untouched and unmoved since we first saw it five years ago. (Well why would anyone want to move it anyway?)

The current is stronger on the third day as we swim around the upright and massive propeller of the ship. A massive shoal of Blue Striped Snappers cover the blades of the propeller. One diver finds an ancient lantern encrusted into side of the hull.

Then its time to leave. We swim against the current to the anchor line and start the ascent.

We are leaving.

Yet we will be back.

For, soon, the Hermes will call again.

And we will heed.

Other expeditions to the Hermes

The bow of the Hermes is full of Black Coral

An anti-aircraft gun

Two guns

Diver over the AA gun

The propeller is covered with Blue Striped Snappers

Staring up the barrel of a gun!

Decompression stops on fantastically clear blue water.. (c) Nishan Perera

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