Wetsuit or drysuit – either works for diving in Normandy

The D Day landings in June 1944 have been the subject of many history books and feature films.  There is a dedicated museum in the little fishing village of Port en Bessin, which includes many memorials to both land and sea action during that intense time.  Part of the museum is specifically for underwater wrecks and, open annually from June to September, can provide a great deal of information about the wrecks that are still to be found, although those most dangerous to shipping in these fairly shallow waters have been cleared.

As with any scuba-diving activity, it is necessary to have the right equipment.  The English Channel is not especially warm, so if a wetsuit is your preferred choice of diving wear, it is advisable to limit your dives to one longer dive or, at most, two shorter dives.  A drysuit can extend the diving opportunities and reliable suppliers such as www.wetsuitoutlet.co.uk can also provide all the accessories you may need, including hoods, torches, buoyancy aids and boots.

Most of the wrecks in this area sit in between twenty to thirty metres of water, so are very easily accessible.  There are strong currents, however, and the main shipping channels into Cherbourg are close by, so careful consideration has to be given to the times for the dives.  You can choose between wrecks from World War 1, perhaps the cargo ship the SS Ussa, carrying hay for the horses used in the war, which is almost intact after being sunk by a mine in 1917, or the many wrecks from World War 2, including the Susan B Anthony, whose superstructure is 20 metres deep and the HMS Svenner, which was sunk on the actual D Day of June 6th 1944.

French law, quite rightly, forbids the removal of any artefacts, “souvenirs” or ordnance from the wrecks, which means that they remain as a sobering reminder of the naval battles that took place.  At the same time, diving on these wrecks provides an exhilarating experience that gives a unique insight into a momentous period of history.