Maximum depth greater than 100m. Wreck dive

Remote sensing image of the SS Buitenzorg

The structure of the SS Buitenzorg remains largely intact, lying upright on the seabed. The hull remains semi intact, with substantial raised forecastle and poop structures, four or five holds with associated winches, and intact masts, cranes or davits. The midships bridge and engine superstructure remain semi intact.

Lying between 80 and 90m in depth, the Buitenzorg has been dived a number of times by technical divers.

The Buitenzorg ran aground while on voyage from Calcutta to Dundee, via Oban, and it later slipped off the rocks sinking into deep water close by. The Dutch steamship was built in 1916, and was carrying a cargo of pig iron, tea, and rubber.

The holds just aft of the bow and forward of the wheelhouse have been almost completely leveled from port to starboard and the wreck is almost in two pieces. Allegedly the wreck may have contained Tin ingots . Reports from technical divers suggest the wreck’s rigging and derricks etc are all still intact.

The wreck fishes well for conger eels on the ebb tide, the wreck being almost beam on to the ebb tide . The best of the fishing being very precisely around or in the demolished forward holds. On the flood the tide comes parallel to the wreck from Stern to Bow from the Mull direction making it very difficult to anchor on the wreck in a good position to fish.Some nets have been snagged and segments recovered on fishing line at the bow area.

This wreck lies upright on a gradually sloping seabed of sand and mud, the bow pointing towards the North. Seabed depths vary between 81 and 83m below chart datum at the stern to over 90m at the bow. Depths of the structure vary from 76m below chart datum amidships to 79m on some of the deck structures, and between 80 and 85m in some of the hold areas.

The wreck was salvaged (using divers and remote grabs) by Kilburn Salvage Co, Newport and Tay, at a date between 1977 and 1983, and also by Aberdeen Diving Services. It is also reported as having been visited by technical dives, and some imagery taken. The depth of the wreck has so far precluded archaeological survey by divers.
The 2004 imagery shows the wreck to be largely intact. The substantial raised forecastle and poop structures, four or five holds with associated winches, and the intact masts are all identifiable. The bridge and engine structure (amidships) remains largely intact. 
The wreck lies within a small debris field, debris being apparent up to 40m from the starboard side of the vessel, but not (within the area of sonar shadow) to port. Within the debris noted to starboard, there was an unidentified object 5.3m long and 1.5m off the seabed. A further debris object was noted 45m off the port bow.

The salvage impact is evidently centred around the forward hold, where grabs have opened a large hole (between 3 and 5m wide) out of the port side. This hole may extend across the vessel to the starboard side, and there may be also be a degree of hull distortion (about 2 degrees to port) forward of this.
No scallop-dredge marks were noted nearby, although they are recorded in the vicinity. Both sidescan and multibeam sonar traces indicate a degree of seabed scouring (to a depth of up to 32m) around the stern, and there may be sediment accretion towards the bow.

Moir and Crawford 1997, 158-9

Location of this dive site

Location (Lat/Long): 56.504167, -5.741111 (Google map window)

Planning your dive: Deep technical dive.

Depth range: 90m to 110m

Distance: The site is 4.6km from Lochaline Dive Centre.

WARNING: Some Latitude and Longitude data taken from the literature is quite inaccurate, we are tidying this up here, but you are advised to take transits for wreck sites/check buoys if you are diving from your own boat. Transits and further details for most wreck sites are available in the Dive Centre.

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2 Comments on Buitenzorg

  1. peter roberts says:

    Polished up our act a bit the year after . Proper deco frame in use and facilities to seperate and drift too but never needed as current OK diving slack on neaps .

  2. peter roberts says:

    I 1st dived this by myself in 1995 Chris Barrows steel dive boat . Max depth that day was 80 mts , remember passing intact ropes on way down and seeing intact portholes with glass in them and brass oblong windows . Came up and completed deco hanging fromdown line . surprised really as current never really started to run but it was on neaps .Loads of big red jelly fish ( lions mane ) to avoid too. Went back year latter and invited Richie Stephenson ( and zade) to come on it too !! . Just the same really – portholes galore but at the bottom the viz was a maximum 4-5 mts . Never saw any rubber bails or tin blocks

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