The Cuba was a huge liner, some 150m long and weighing in at over 11K tons. When she was torpedoed in 1945, she was the largest U boat victim of 1945 and Berlin had already been conquered and this was one of the last losses of the war. Inspite of her size this two funnelled ship is unrecognizable where she lies in 32m of water. It is almost as if someone has taken all the rivets out of the ship and it has collapsed like a pack of cards. In spite of that it is a good dive and due to shifting sands it is never the same dive twice. There is plenty of marine life as well as artefacts, crockery and other items you would expect to find on a liner. She was sunk by the U-1195 (see below).
A club favourite this U-boat was sunk on 7 April 1945 in a counter attack by HMS Watchman shortly after she claimed the Cuba as one of her victims. The U-1195 lies in 30m of water upright with a slight lean to one side. The conning tower and propellor are still clearly visible and although she is broken either side of the conning tower, is still very much intact. An excellent dive.
Lying on a stone and gravel seabed about 13 miles out of Portsmouth you will find the Kurland. The Kurland was rammed by the British steamer Deventia on 13 December 1917 and sank within minutes. Also known as the Rifle Wreck, she was carrying a cargo of boxed rifles when she sank so there is plenty to see. Visibility is usually good on this wreck and although the central section is well broken up, the bow and stern sections sit around 7 proud of the sea floor. There are areas where penetration is possible without knowing, so care should be taken.
The Highland Brigade was a WWI steamship that was sunk in 1918. She is lying in about 30m of water on the East side of the Isle of wight. The bow is upright and stands 6m above the sandy seabed. At 5,600 tonnes there is plenty to look around. The middle section is well broken up and strewn with artefacts so makes a good rummage. The stern has twisted onto its side and gun can still be seen although it is sometimes well covered by sand. One of the main cargoes was candlestick telephones and these can be found everywhere. This wreck is often confused with the much bigger ship (14,000 tonnes) of the same name that was built in 1929 and finally broken up in 1965. My thanks to Peter Jowers who sailed on the sister ship of the newer Highland Brigade (the Highland Monarch) for the detailed information.
The Camberwell is another big vessel found in the same area as the Kurland and Highland Brigade (a bit like our own Bermuda Triangle!). The Camberwell was a 4,000 ton cargo ship that was sunk by a mine in 1917 and now rests in 30m of water. Although the wreck is well broken up it is still a good dive as she was carrying a huge variety of things when she went down. There is plenty to see and it is worth coming back several times.
The U90 was a WW1 German Submarine that actually survived the war. She was also very successful for the Germans sinking more than 3o ships including, infamously,the USS President Lincoln on which over 700 men lost their lives.When the war ended she was handed over to the British and it was decided that she should be sold as scrap. According to two websites she was broken up during 1919 – 1920, however, another report states that on route to the brerakers she sank and now rests in 30m of water about 17 miles from Portsmouth. All very curious. It is a bit of a trek to get there but well worth it.
Close to the Kurland another big wreck is that of the Leon. She was a casualty of WW1 and was sunk by U-75 in 1918. The ship now lies in 30m of water approximately 13 miles from Portsmouth. There is plenty to see including rifle boxes and shell cases. Don’t be tempted to bring up the rifles as they disintegrate on the surface – better to leave them for others to see. There are also numerous stone jars (these feature on other wrecks in the area), some of which still have their contents and corks in place.