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U-1105: The Black Panther, The World’s Most Accessible U-Boat

Explorer and maritime historian Erik Petkovic details the development, history and eventual demise of Germany’s U-1105, which represented the cutting edge of the arm’s race between subsea hunters and the hunted during WWII. Resting in the brackish waters of the Potomac River near Piney Point, Maryland, USA, the U-1105 is the most accessible sunken U-boat along the US East Coast.



by Erik Petkovic

All photos by Erik Petkovic unless otherwise noted.

U-1105 was a highly modified Type VIIC nicknamed the Black Panther.

In the infancy of 1942, the American shoreline was ablaze and its waters ran red with blood and black with oil. Operation Paukenschlag (Drumbeat) had just commenced. The mastermind of Paukenschlag, Admiral Karl Donitz, authorized five Type VII U-boats to unleash hell in American waters. 

Reinhard Hardegen, commander of U-123, and his fifty-one man crew were in one of the U-boats assigned to Paukenschlag. Although unknown at the time, the world would know who he was in short order as he took aim at a tanker from 4 km/4,400 yards. U-123 hit the tanker with multiple torpedoes and sank Norness off New York. When Americans awoke to the headlines the next day, America would never be the same, and neither would the American psyche. This was the second time in five weeks (Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941) and the second time since the War of 1812 that America was attacked on its home soil. 

Paukenschlag was a massive success from the Kriegsmarine perspective. From the Allied perspective, it was massively destructive. Paukenschlag was just the initial onslaught. The drum continued to beat long after Donitz’ five U-boats returned home. In the first seven months of 1942, 109 ships were lost in American waters along with 2,081 mariners. 

To combat the significant loss of life and vessel, the Allies—through ingenuity and engineering—developed three keys to turning the Battle of the Atlantic. The first was High Frequency Direction Finder aka “Huff-Duff”. Although this technology was not new (as the ability to locate low frequency bearings had been used for years) the British were able to tune the technology to be able to take bearings on high frequencies when U-boats surfaced to transmit weather reports or to coordinate wolf pack attacks. 

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The second advancement—breaking the secret code of the German Enigma machine—was arguably the most significant. The painstaking work by Alan Turing and those at Bletchley Park not only turned the tide of the Battle of the Atlantic, but of World War Two.

The further development of ASDIC, named after the Anti-Submarine Detection Investigation Committee, proved an effective weapon against the Grey Wolves. Known as SONAR to the Americans, ASDIC evolution was war-changing. The hunters became the hunted. 

These advancements were so effective that while 109 ships were lost in American waters in the first half of 1942, zero vessels were lost in the second half of the year. As a result, U-boats were being obliterated at an alarming pace. The horrific U-boat losses caused a change in tactics: Donitz recalled the U-boats from the western Atlantic, the Kriegsmarine shifted back to lone wolf operations from wolf pack attacks, and the Allied advancements necessitated new U-boat design and engineering. Enter U-1105.

A view off the port bow of U-1105 in dry dock. Alberich tiles can be seen attached to the hull.


When U-1105 was launched on April 20, 1944, (Hitler’s 55th birthday) World War Two was a year from being over. The “Happy Times” had long since disappeared. The wolves were being slaughtered in high numbers. By the end of the war, the casualty rate for Kriegsmarine submariners was nearly 75%—upwards of 28,000 sailors and nearly 800 U-boats would be lost. 

The Germans built seven varieties of Type VII U-boats. Of the 709 Type VII U-boats completed, 577 were Type VIIC, including U-1105. However, U-1105 was not a typical Type VIIC. U-1105 was a highly modified Type VIIC with the latest in German engineering.


The Kriegsmarine attempted to counter the effect SONAR was having on their disappearing U-boat fleet. The Germans developed a synthetic rubber material which absorbed and dispersed sound waves—in effect, they engineered an acoustic camouflage dubbed Alberich.

An early form of stealth technology, Alberich tiles were engineered with different patterns of holes perforating the rubber which allowed the rubber to absorb the sound pinging them by SONAR from Allied ships. Similar to the tiles on the space shuttle decades in the future in which tiles were specifically engineered for a certain part of the space shuttle, specific hole patterns were engineered for specific parts of the U-boat.

Studies showed Alberich could reduce the likelihood of detection by up to sixty percent. Despite the technological and engineering innovation further enhanced by successful trials, only thirteen U-boats were outfitted with Alberich. U-1105 was one of only four U-boats outfitted with Alberich that went on a war patrol. 

A tile of Alberich from U-1105’s conning tower. Each tile contained a unique set of holes to absorb sound waves – an early form of stealth technology.
A sheet of Alberich can be seen peeling away from U-1105’s hull.

GHG Balkon

Early U-boats were outfitted with a passive sonar array called Gruppenhorchgeraete (GHG). The GHG was placed just aft of the torpedo tubes on either side of the bow containing a dozen hydrophones which helped the U-boat listen to underwater sounds and decipher Allied propellers.

Limitations with GHG lead to the development of the GHG Balkon—an advanced listening system with 48 hydrophones. The GHG Balkon increased the effective range of the U-boat’s listening capability by an astounding 70 percent. The system was so effective sounds could be heard over the horizon. U-1105 was one of nearly two dozen U-boats to be equipped with GHG Balkon. 

The GHG Balkon – an active sonar array containing 48 hydrophones – was a significant upgrade which allowed U-Boats to hear sounds over the horizon. The GHG was so effective it was immediately copied by the Allies and placed on submarines.


U-boats had two ways of operating – either by electric, battery powered motors or by diesel engines. U-boats could not use the diesel engines while submerged; otherwise, the engines would suck all the air in the U-boat into the engines and the crew would suffocate.. Installation of a schnorkel allowed the U-boat to operate submerged while using the diesels.

The introduction of the schnorkel was more successful than any navy would have imagined. At the beginning of the war, U-boats could stay submerged for three days. By the end of the war, schnorkel technology had been perfected to allow a U-boat to stay submerged in excess of sixty days. This remained a record until the US Navy broke it in the 1970s, but only by use of nuclear power and after decades of Cold War engineering. 

A US Navy sailor testing a U-Boat schnorkel in the Chesapeake Bay in 1956. 

Black Panther

U-1105’s conning tower emblem depicted a black panther sprawling over the world. U-1105 commanding officer, Oberleutenant zur see Hans-Joachim Schwarz explained how U-1105 received its nickname: “The name and the heraldic figure were the result of a competition in the crew. A black panther is a beast of prey in the open country. In wartime, a U-boat is also a beast of prey that attacks ships on the surface. Because the boat was covered with a black rubber coat, we thought that the name was very suitable for U-1105.”

A starboard quarter view of U-1105’s conning tower and upper and lower wintergartens with automatic weapons prior to sea trials with the Royal Navy.


On April 12, 1945, U-1105 ventured out in the name of the Fatherland to the western approaches of Ireland—U-1105’s hunting grounds. Careful transit of the North Sea saw U-1105 arrive west of the Outer Hebrides on April23. Schwarz surfaced briefly to send a transmission to Befehlshaber der U-boote (BdU)—U-boat headquarters. The message was short and concise: “My position is AM 0213. Weak defense and patrol.” The U-boat was so close to shore the men could see advertisements, lights, and vehicles. No one knew U-1105 was there. 

U-1105 commanding officer Oberleutnant zur See Hans-Joachim Schwarz.

On April 27, 1945, HMS Conn, HMS Redmill, and HMS Rupert, members of the Royal Navy’s 21st Escort Group, were in Irish waters carrying sonobuoys to detect U-boats. U-1105 heard the noises of the three ships. At this time, HMS Conn picked up a sonar contact which was believed to be a U-boat, but was in fact an incoming torpedo from U-1105. Fifty-seconds after firing the T5, a massive explosion rocked HMS Redmill. U-1105 remained undetected.

U-1105 attempted to descend to 100 m/330 ft to escape what was believed would be an imminent and ferocious depth charge attack. The emergency descent quickly became uncontrolled with two tons of water in her ballast tanks. U-1105 hit bottom at 570 feet. U-1105 turned off its engines and sat on the bottom. Schwarz counted 299 depth charges dropped on U-1105. After 31 hours on the bottom while avoiding detection, U-1105 surfaced.

The crew of U-1105 poses on the conning tower and upper and lower wintergartens. The command staff stands on the main deck. Commander Schwarz in third from the right in the white hat. 


Six days later U-1105 received the order to cease all combat. World War Two was over. U-1105 surrendered at Lisahally. En route, U-1105 destroyed all classified material, communications, and paper, including her log book. All torpedoes in the tubes were discharged overboard. Additionally, all ammunition and seals for the submarine’s weapons were dumped overboard. Ironically, U-1105 surrendered to the 21st Escort Group – the same group U-1105 attacked and killed 32 of its men when it torpedoed HMS Redmill

A previously classified drawing showing the placement of the 250 pound MK6 depth charge suspended beneath U-1105’s hull.

Testing & Evaluation

All U-boats surrendered at Lisahally, with the exception of U-1105, were destroyed per Operation Deadlight. Intelligence personnel knew from previous prisoner interrogations that Alberich existed and that the Allied forces were keen to start testing and evaluations. U-1105 was the one prize the US, British, and Soviet forces were interested in testing. The Americans were eager to get their hands on U-1105, but would have to wait until the Royal Navy completed their own trials and testing.

In January 1946, after a harrowing trek across the angry North Atlantic, U-1105 finally arrived in the United States and was authorized for salvage and explosives testing. At the conclusion of the proposed tests, U-1105 “shall be finally disposed of by sinking in waters of such depth as to assure a swept depth of at least fifty feet.”

U-1105 at detonation in the Potomac River.

Thirteen months of testing saw U-1105 sink five times. On September 19, 1948, at 1229 hours, a 113 kg/250 pound MK2 depth charge suspended 9 m/30 ft below U-1105’s conning tower was detonated. U-1105 sank in less than one minute for the sixth and final time. 

US Navy personnel arming the MK6 depth charge.

Diving U-1105

U-1105 rests at a depth of 28m/91 ft in the brackish waters of the Potomac River off Piney Point, Maryland—the most accessible sunken U-boat along the US East Coast. U-1105’s bow points south toward the Chesapeake Bay. The wreck sits in an area with heavy commercial shipping traffic. Not only is the wreck easily accessible, but from April to November the wreck is easy to locate—a buoy marks the site.

Original drawing of U-1105 embedded in the bottom of the Potomac River by James Christley in 1991. Starboard bow orientation. Courtesy NPS. 

The buoy is marked with several advisories including: POOR VISIBILITY, STRONG CURRENTS and US NAVY PROPERTY OBJECT REMOVAL PROHIBITED.

A small diver ball is tied directly to the top of the conning tower at a depth of 20 m/65 feet. The line is usually secured around the base of either the attack periscope or sky periscope. Free descents or hot drops are not advisable on this wreck. With the limited visibility and a seemingly ever present current, one would not be guaranteed to see the wreck if a free descent was performed. It is recommended to dive the wreck based on tide tables, with the best conditions being at or near slack high tide. 

The fall and winter months allow for better visibility, less pleasure boat traffic, and fewer jellyfish. Visibility can double or triple in the winter months (2-3.5m/6-12 ft) compared to the summer months (1-1+m/3-4 ft).

The gun mounts are all that remain of U-1105’s 2cm Flak.

The Potomac quickly turns various hues of mundane color – greenish-brown, then brown, then shades of black. Regardless of color, it is murky. Vertical visibility is almost always better than horizontal visibility. As you approach the 18 m/60 ft mark in the black water, the faint outline of the top of the conning tower comes into view. The most prominent feature is the sky periscope housing and mount which projects above the conning tower.

Other features in the conning tower include original teakwood, attack periscope mount, diesel engine air intake, and housing for the FuMO Hohentwiel radar. The large 2 cm watertight ammunition container is located at the entrance to the upper Wintergarten. The Flak 38 gun mounts can be seen bolted to the original wood decking. 

The hinge and cap are still in place on the storage tube which once housed U-1105’s colors. 
U-1105’s 2cm ammunition container at the aft end of the conning tower.

The diver will continue aft along the starboard side of the upper Wintergarten and drop onto the lower Wintergarten. Immediately to the diver’s left is the external watertight storage tube. This is where U-1105’s flags were stored. Two 3.7mm watertight ammunition containers and the M42 automatic machine gun mount can be viewed.

Teak decking can still be seen on the lower Wintergarten. 
U-1105’s sky periscope mount protrudes from the conning tower.

There are some interesting features to see while dropping down along the main deck and circumnavigating the superstructure. Below the sky periscope, flaring out from the conning tower on the right (while looking aft), is the rectangular base for the schnorkel. This is where the schnorkel would clamp into the conning tower when deployed. Along the starboard side of the conning tower is the exhaust trunking. This intricate piping is a very unique piece of maritime history, as this is one of very few sunken U-boats in the world where this can be seen. 

Alberich can be seen in a multitude of places on and around the superstructure including the conning tower, both Wintergartens and saddle tanks. In 2009, the U-1105 Black Panther Historic Shipwreck Preserve was included on the inaugural list of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National System of Marine Protected Areas. 

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Dive Deeper

US Naval Institute: “To Hell, By Compass: The Remarkable Wreck and Rescue of USS S-5”
by Erik Petkovic

Osprey Publishing: German submarine U-1105 ‘Black Panther’ THE NAVAL ARCHAEOLOGY OF A U-BOAT

Wikipedia: German submarine U-1105

Erik Petkovic is an explorer, author, maritime historian, shipwreck researcher, and technical wreck diver. Erik is the author of multiple wreck diving and maritime history books. Erik has been featured in publications worldwide and is a consultant for various production companies. Erik regularly presents at the largest dive shows and museums and is a sought after presenter due to his unique storytelling and in-depth research. He currently lives in Southern Maryland with his wife and sons.


Finding the Wreck of the “Admiral Knight”

Professional archeologist and tech diver Ewan Anderson recounts the tale of finding the early 1900s steamship the Admiral Knight in British Columbia waters in the spring of 2020—a collaboration of the British Columbia Underwater Explorers (BCUE) and the Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia (UASBC). It’s a tribute to the power of “Citizen Science,” and the joys of diving with purpose. Here’s how they found it.




By Ewan Anderson

The Admiral Knight, formerly the SS Portland . Courtesy PSMHS Williamson Collection, Neg. no. 2877

“Well… I might have a target for you,” read the fateful email that led to our search for the wreck of the early 1900s Admiral Knight steamship.

It was 2019, and Craig Lessels of the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) had been reviewing multi-beam sonar bathymetry datasets — basically, maps of the seafloor — when he noticed a cluster of features lying on the otherwise sandy seafloor, east of Galiano Island in the Salish Sea off the west coast of Canada. 

Thinking the Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia (UASBC) might be interested, he forwarded what he had found to UASBC Explorations Director Jacques Marc. 

As it turned out, the UASBC had, since 2006, been looking near this location for the Admiral Knight, a steam-powered freighter that sank after an explosion in its engine caused a catastrophic fire on board.

The Search

The UASBC search began, as usual, with some serious background research.  The research turned up a wealth of information about the vessel’s origins and destruction in 1919. Launched by the Westward Navigation Company of Seattle in 1916 as the Kuskokwim River, the 43 m/142 ft long wood hulled, diesel-engine powered vessel was built to provide freight service between Puget Sound and Alaska. It was re-powered with steam engines in 1917 and renamed the SS Portland, and then renamed the Admiral Knight in 1919 after purchase by Alaska Pacific Fisheries, who may have used it to supply their canneries in Alaska.

On July 26, 1919, a fire broke out in the Admiral Knight’s engine room while the freighter was underway from Seattle to Ketchikan. The crew of 21 barely made it off the ship before it was engulfed in flames; the last six men leaped off the foredeck onto a boat dispatched by the local steam ferry just in time to be saved. Three days later, mariners were still being warned of the burning hulk drifting between Vancouver and Vancouver Island, but there was no sign of the ship by July 30.

The Admiral Knight was forgotten until the late 1950s when a group of divers explored a site near Galiano Island where a local fisherman reported to have snagged his gear on a wreck.  In an interview in 2006, one of the divers remembered seeing an intact wooden hull and some machinery matching the Admiral Knight’s description at depths of 55-64 m/180-220 ft; although this firsthand account came with the caveat that they were “narked out of their minds.” This general location became the focus of the UASBC’s field surveys over the next few years, including searches using towed side-scan sonar in 2006 and a multi-beam sonar survey by Parks Canada’s research vessel, the MV David Thompson. Those searches did not locate anything resembling the Admiral Knight wreck, and its location remained a mystery until CHS’s review of data from deeper water in 2019, just beyond the UASBC’s previous search areas.

The CHS target sits in 57 m/187 ft of water, which puts it beyond the range of the UASBC Explorations “regulars” group, some of whom have been exploring and documenting underwater maritime heritage sites in British Columbia and Alaska since the early ‘80s. As a UASBC Explorations regular myself — albeit with only 15 years’ worth of expeditions in my dive log — and member of British Columbia’s close-knit Global Underwater Explorers (GUE) technical diving community, Jacques turned the project over to me and wished me luck. I had been bothering Jacques for several years to give up his wish list of deeper shipwreck targets, and it appeared that this was my chance to prove that GUE tech divers on Vancouver Island could make a significant contribution to the underwater cultural heritage record on B.C.’s coast.  

Multi-beam sonar image of the wreck. Credit: Canadian Hydrographic Service

The Plan

We were ready! In short order, I had a team of qualified and enthusiastic GUE divers, a dive boat, and a dive date in April 2020. And then we were interrupted by the pandemic. Organised diving took a big step back while everyone tried to figure out how to navigate a variety of restrictions and act responsibly in the face of this century’s biggest global health scare. Focus shifted to community-building through impromptu dives, and the big projects, like our plan to identify the Admiral Knight, took a back seat.  

Dive boats available for projects around south Vancouver Island changed, too. GUE instructor evaluator and Vancouver Island resident Guy Shockey bought a boat, the Thermocline, brought it up to the island from Puget Sound, then learned how to drive it (possibly in that order). While the boat was still just a twinkle in Guy’s eye, he told me he hoped to make Thermocline a platform for divers to do world-class diving, but for that to happen it was up to the local GUE community to demonstrate that we had interesting project dives to do. He and I agreed that identifying the Admiral Knight fit the long-term community goals perfectly. Soon after the Thermocline arrived at its permanent home in Vancouver Island’s Maple Bay, Guy started referring to himself as “The Boat Driver,” so I knew he was seriously committed.  

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The Dive

By early 2022, our diving activities on the west coast were back to their pre-pandemic norms, and the way seemed clear to dive the Admiral Knight. So, on a sunny weekend this past August, with water as calm as glass, I found myself dropping through the cool, emerald-green depths towards the bold future of underwater archaeology in my backyard. 

Dropping down the shot line with me was Jason Cook, an instructor and fellow rebreather diver. As we descended, I had a head full of plans and checklists, and handfuls of equipment. Try as we might to keep things simple, we were determined to complete a minimum number of tasks and needed the gear to pull them off.  In addition to our JJ-CCR rebreathers and bailout cylinders to do the dive, we had a full-frame camera and two pairs of large video lights to document the wreck (if it wasn’t just a pile of rocks we were dropping onto). Jason had a 120 m/400 ft reel in case The Boat Driver dropped the shot in the middle of nowhere and our identification dive turned into a search for, well, anything.  I had an additional large surface marker buoy (SMB) stuffed in my left thigh pocket, which we planned to launch without a line attached to signal the next dive team that we’d found something worth diving.  We each had a diver propulsion vehicle (DPV) to drag all this stuff around if the current picked up (strong currents are common in our region, but also highly localised, and nobody was sure when slack tide was at this new site).

The visibility on the descent was just over 20 m/60 ft, which is fantastic no matter where you are in the world. As we passed 40 m/130 a huge grey shape swam right in front of me — a shark! — no, just the biggest lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) I had ever seen. As the monster fish disappeared, we hit a layer of low-visibility water hovering about 5 m/15 ft off the seafloor. It appeared we were going to be diving in the dark — and the cold, since it was also suddenly only 9° C/~48° F. Finally, the shot appeared below us, lying on a featureless, sandy plain. There wasn’t even a pile of rocks pretending to be a wreck in sight.

Like the optimist he is, Jason quickly got out his reel to tie-off and start a search.  I, on the other hand, stared dejectedly into the gloom, where I could just make out some white blobs in the distance. But wait a second — the blobs must be plumose anemones (Metridium farcimen), and anemones must be attached to something! I got Jason’s attention with a flash of my light, and we headed off towards the anemones.

It turned out that our search for the wreck was brief — the anemones were only about 10 m/30 ft away, attached to a driveshaft just forward of a small steel propeller. It was a convenient place to tie off the reel, and an auspicious start to our dive. I deployed the SMB, which, unencumbered by a line attached to a spool, careened to the surface, and launched, like a small pink ballistic missile, out of the water beside the waiting Thermocline.  The second dive team — Lee Critchley, Conor Collins, and Colin Miller — were into the water in moments to start their dive.

Water tube boiler and engine parts; screen grab from video survey. Photo by Ewan Anderson/UASBC

Back at the wreck site, Jason and I started the next phase of our dive: a visual survey of the site. Firing up the DPVs, we followed the driveshafts forward from the propeller. The shafts disappear under a jumble of machinery that will need a more thorough survey to sort through. The large water-tube boilers appeared next, standing upright on their fire-boxes about 2-3 m/6-10 ft proud of the seafloor. Patches of the relatively thin steel encasing the boilers had corroded away, revealing intricate tubing that was cutting-edge boiler technology in the early 20th century. Winches and engine parts formed another pile forward of the boilers, beyond which was the relatively featureless expanse of seabed corresponding to what was once the vessel’s hold. About a minute later, we rounded the forecastle which sat upright about 3 m/10 ft high, the foredeck winch still in its original position. We completed our circuit with a straight run back to the stern, spotting the second drive shaft and propeller.

As the second team arrived on the bottom, Jason and I lit up the wreck with our video lights. I wanted to document the visual survey we’d just completed, so I coordinated with Jason to do a re-run at slow speed. He led and illuminated the wreck, while I followed with the DPV-mounted camera and lights. Keeping Jason in frame made for a good scale reference as we slipped slowly past century-old rust and watchful fish. The end of our video captured the other team swimming around the boilers. Conor was taking still photos while the others inspected the machinery and puzzled out what they were looking at.

Jason Cook lighting up the foredeck winch; screen grab from video survey by Ewan Anderson/UASBC

And just like that, it was time to go. Leaving the reel for the other team to collect, Jason and I headed back to the shot line and had the usual brief conversation confirming our decompression plan before leaving the bottom.  The ascent took us back up to the relatively crystal-clear water above 45 m/150 ft. We crossed the thermocline around 15 m/50 ft and completed our deco in 18°C/64° F water and dappled green sunlight. 

Dive teams on deco; from left to right: Jim Dixon, “The Boat Driver,” Jason Cook. Photo by Ewan Anderson/UASBC

The Rediscovery

Back onboard the Thermocline, we all agreed that the first day of diving was a great success. We had identified a wreck and concluded that it was worth diving again; but was this definitely the wreck of the Admiral Knight? We thought so: it is a steam-powered, twin-screw vessel of the correct size.  And we knew the burning hulk was seen by several witnesses drifting in the vicinity of our wreck site in late July 1919. More definitive evidence of the wreck’s identity lies in a closer inspection of the surviving equipment and the cargo. We surfaced with about 10 minutes of good-quality video and some still photos, which Jacques will want to review and comment on.  

The two-hour sail back to the dock, and lunch at the marina pub gave us plenty of time to debrief and discuss the details of our dives. We sketched out the goals for diving the next day, and I included a somewhat ambitious list of items to measure and a plan to create a 3D model of the boilers.

Jason and I were back in the water 24 hours after our first dive on the wreck. The shot line had landed right behind the boilers, so we got to work immediately. This time, we planned to document the boilers using photogrammetry. Issues with camera float arms the previous day meant we were not able to carry as many big lights, so I had the camera while Jason handled most of the lighting.  

Jason Cook preparing gear. Photo by Ewan Anderson/UASBC

The somewhat poor visibility and missing lighting (though we still had a lot of lights) meant we had to get relatively close to the wreck for well-lit photos. And since the boilers don’t cover a very large area, I decided to park the DPVs and kick. In hindsight, the DPVs might have made things easier, but I didn’t notice the current sweeping across the wreck until after the kicking started. I’m not beyond second-guessing myself underwater, but with only 30 minutes of bottom time to set-up and complete the photogrammetry, there wasn’t a lot of time to reorganise and restart the work. In the end, we managed to get about 470 reasonable photos for our modelling project.  

The second dive team, Guy and Jim Dixon, arrived on the wreck a few minutes after Jason and I started taking photos. Guy and Jim had the straightforward task of just enjoying the dive. This seemingly simple job is a common assignment on UASBC dives: divers who are unencumbered with cameras, lights, measuring tapes, and other documentation equipment are free to explore and are likely to notice important features that busy diver-photographers might miss. This team spent some time inspecting two “block” features that I had noticed the previous day; sitting forward of the engines and boilers, the blocks could have been the remnants of the vessel’s cargo, which would be an unusual find because we don’t often see intact cargo on our wrecks. We didn’t manage to solve the mystery on this expedition, and even with Guy and Jim offering detailed descriptions, we’re all still scratching our heads.

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Although there were only a handful of divers who made it down into the wreck in August, dozens of people have contributed their time and energy over the last decade and a half to making these successful dives possible. To dive into the unknown just to see what’s there is one thing, but to dive with purpose and come back with valuable information requires dedicated research and planning. Credit for our success (and the pressure to succeed!) in search for the Admiral Knight is largely due to Jacques Marc and other researchers at the UASBC who laid the groundwork for the project.

There is much more to come. We’ve proven that we can add deeper sites to the list of the UASBC’s potential expeditions. Jacques and other UASBC volunteers are turning to the archives to find more targets. By extending the range of what is possible for the local community, we also open the door to exploring deeper into history. Indigenous peoples have lived around the Salish Sea since time immemorial, as indigenous elders and cultural leaders say, and their cultural inheritance includes documented sites spanning the last 14,000 years. The connection Salish peoples have with the sea around us is undeniable, yet tangible underwater heritage sites other than shipwrecks have barely been explored.

As for the Admiral Knight, any uncertainty about the wreck’s identity may be beside the point. The wreck still makes for a great dive, and although it is relatively deep for most divers, many in our local dive community are qualified – or will be soon – to dive it. It’s worth the effort just to see the intact boilers and the entire vessel’s contents laid out on the seafloor, just as they were 103 years ago. The intact sections of wreck and potential cargo provide opportunities for further study and research as well. 

See companion stories:

Building Community Through Project Diving By Guy Shockey

Introducing GUE’s New Project Diver Program By Francesco Cameli

Dive Deeper

InDEPTH: How to Become an Explorer: Passion, Partnership, and Exploration

Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia 

Thermocline Diving 

Marc, Jacques and Warren Oliver Bush (2021) Historic Shipwrecks of the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia. Underwater Archaeological Society of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.

Ewan Anderson is a professional archaeologist whose work focuses on assessing and mitigating development construction impacts to cultural heritage sites in British Columbia.  A consultant for all levels of government, a variety of industries and Indigenous communities, his expertise is in cultural heritage law, cutting edge archaeological methods and Indigenous peoples’ relationships with archaeology and those who practise it.  

Ewan is passionate about diving – especially when combined with underwater cultural heritage projects.  He is a GUE certified JJ-CCR diver and IANTD certified cave diver.   His diving has taken him around the world, even though everything he needs –  from wrecks to caves – can be found within a few hours of his home in Victoria, on Vancouver Island. 

His professional work and diving almost never mix, for which he is often thankful.  Ewan pursues his interests in underwater photography, underwater photogrammetry, and advocating for conservation of marine environments and underwater heritage, free from the yoke of capitalist overlords. He is a regular volunteer on Underwater Archaeological Society of BC expeditions and has served on the Society’s board of directors since 2018. 

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