Dive the HMS Hollyhock (www.DiveSriLanka.com)
A beautiful place at the edge of the continental shelf


By Dharshana Jayawardena.

Depth: 42 Meters

HMS Hollyhock port side anchor at bow
The shape of the bow and the anchor is a close match
HMS Hollyhock
HMS Hollyhock (courtesy of Jonathan Wickett http://www.hmshollyhock.co.uk/)

20/09/2013: This is to be our first dive off the eastern city of Kalmunai.

As we descend, a slight current resist us and we have to pull our selves down, but not with much effort. The water is clear blue so the visibility looks good.

Then, at around 18M, we see it; and its an amazing sight.

A badly broken ship lies at the very edge of a foreboding drop! The sand around the ship is a beautiful white and the ship itself is covered with a massive shoal of snappers!. It is a hazy canvass of white, yellow, grey with a splatter of dark gray in the middle.  And this dark gray could be the HMS Hollyhock.

We head towards what obviously looks like the bow. It is indeed, and the ship is lying on its starboard side. The port side anchor is still in position and it seems identical to the anchor found on old photographs of Hollyhock. The bow is almost skeletal with none or few recognizable ship parts. As we head back to the stern, we glance back at the ominous looking yet inviting drop off on the port side of the ship. Yet today we are very mission specific, and it is to cover as much as possible of the ship in the short time available; so the drop off has to wait.

The ship is badly pulverized at amidships. On the starboard side is a squarish pile of debris. This bares a remarkable resemblance to the top part of the HMS Hollyhocks bridge.
From this point onwards, no recognizable feature remains except for the large Boiler with its broadside to an angle to the drop off. The stern deteriorates into a pile of jumbled debris. The propellant can be barely made out as it is almost buried in sand. What is clear is that it is a single screw propeller driven ship. So was the Hollyhock.

Later, sifting through the dive photos, we find 2 more remarkable similarities to the Hollyhock. On the tip of the bow is a ring. Hollyhock has the same! Also a distinguishing feature is a panel just above the port side of the keel. Flower Class Corvettes had a similar panel, probably a horizontal fin to stabilize the roll of this very narrow ship. Apart from the the damage is very reminiscent of the eye witness account of the HMS hollyhock destruction.

(See the excellent web site on the HMS Hollyhock by Jonathan Wickett)

There is much more to explore, even in this little ship. The season is almost over. So we have to wait for another 8 months before we get one more chance to visit this fantastic dive site.

30/05/14-31/05/14 - Excellent visibility and ripping currents greet us during two days of diving. Fish life is prolific as usual. We witness two Eagle Rays gracefully swim by in the strong current.

26/06/14- We do a long single Tec dive to the Hollyhock. Conditions are much better than last time with almost non existent current. We see an Eagle ray and also a massive Bullray resting in the sand.

01/09/14 - An artifact found at the wreck provides more evidence to support the belief that this is the HMS Hollyhock. The artifact is a telephone handset with inscriptions "Admiralty Pattern M.318" and "Siemens Brothers London". This proves beyond doubt that this is an Admiralty ship. The other circumstantial evidence such as 1. Length of the wreck approximately matching the Hollyhock Length, 2. The shape of the bow and the anchor and the location of the anchor 3. The signature mooring ring at the tip of the bow matching that of a Flower Class Corvette, 4. The unique stabilizer fin on the hull similar to that found in Flower Class Corvettes. Check out our Hollyhock video.

Siemens Brothers London Admiralty Pattern M318
A telephone hand set says "Admiralty Pattern M.318"
Siemens Brothers London
Manufactured by "Siemens Brothers London"
Bull Ray at the HMS Hollyhock
26/6/14 - A massive Bullray rests near the bow of the ship
Diver at the HMS Hollyhock
26/6 A diver explores the bow of the ship
Divers at the HMS Hollyhock
26/6 Tec divers near the boiler of the HMS Hollyhock
Surgeonfish at the bow of the Hollyhock
26/6 A cleaning station at the bow is full of Surgeonfish
Hollyhock Bow
29/5 - Diver at the bow

Hollyhock Eagle Rays
5/29 - Eagle Rays in the ripping current
HMS Hollyhock bow ring
The ring on the tip of the bow also matches that of the Hollyhock
HMS Hollyhock
Hollyhock too had what appears to be a stabilizer fins around the keel
HMS Hollyhock Fire Tube Boiler
The Hollyhock had two Fire Tube Boilers
  HMS Hollyhock
Amidships debris just before the drop off on the port side of the ship
HMS Hollyhock
What could be the section of the bridge (Amidships)
HMS Hollyhock
Appears to be the top section of the bridge (Amidships)
HMS Hollyhock
Looking from the starboard side, the drop off on the port side is visible
HMS Hollyhock
The skeletal hull of on the port side
HMS Hollyhock
Dizzying array of fish life make visibility bad
HMS Hollyhock
Stern side debris (large pipes)
HMS Hollyhock
Perhaps a funnel?
HMS Hollyhock
More debris.. some of this could be the depth charger railing

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