Having dived little else but the Ajman Glory over the last few weeks we felt like a change and headed for the Jumbo and the Taha. The Jumbo was another wreck known to exist but not where until it finally turned up as a co-ordinate on a sea bed survey carried out prior to the dredging for the palm islands. Probably a deliberate sinking for the fisherman, it is nevertheless a good dive. The viz was good, the current was minimal and there were plenty of snappers and some friendly batfish swimming around us.
For the second dive we went to the Taha, a relatively recent addition to the UAE dive sites. The current had by now picked up and the viz had deteriorated but we were still able to have a good dive around the holds and the bridge section. Thanks to Wendy and Cathy (wo)manning the boat we were able to dive as a single wave and got back to the club for refreshments in double quick time.
To finish something new – an equipment review from our Training Officer, Mrs Janette Elphinstone. Having tested her new BCD extensively she offered the following considered critique:
“It’s ****ing sh***”
This, one must concede, falls short of the detailed analysis you would normally find in the regular diving magazines but for clarity of thought, economy of language and as a concise appraisal of the salient qualities of the piece of equipment, it must be hard to beat. And as Janette herself said (almost) ten minutes later: “If you can’t say anything positive, don’t say anything at all”. Quite. For next week we’re hoping for Janette’s thoughts on the future of civilization and the nature of reality.
It’s been quite a hectic week centred around our new friend, the Ajman Glory. The video tour taken the Friday before last was duly uploaded to the web site by Peter. Based on this and everything else, Nelson McEachan of the UK Hydrographic office has emailed us the following:
Subject: RE: Ajman Glory
Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2012 13:20:40 +0100
From: Mceachan Nelson
I have looked at your dive report on the BSAC406 website and I agree that this is the long lost Ajman Glory. A first-class job, so please pass our thanks to all the divers involved.
I will forward the data to our Regional Team with a recommendation that the charted Dangerous Wreck, Position Doubtful be deleted and this wreck be inserted as Wk 20 metres (Ed: clear depth above wreck) from previous dive details. If the chart is corrected by a Notice to Mariners and Authority will be needed - who gets the credit! Or should it be the BSAC Branch?
UK Hydrographic Office
(I requested Nelson to jointly credit BSAC 406 Sharjah and BSAC 1339 Dubai
With the identification now confirmed, it occurred to us that the local press might be interested. Before sending anything out, it seemed like a good idea to get some good quality still photographs of the wreck – hence another trip out there last Friday. It didn’t look too hopeful at first. The forecast was 4-6 ft waves offshore, which is uncomfortable to say the least when you need to travel 32km. Fortunately, the sea-state was not as rough as predicted and you can travel half the distance by hugging the coast for 15km before heading north west.
Once there, although the sea was still choppy, it wasn’t that bad and there was very little current. The viz was also good and we left with some excellent quality images a few of which are attached. As well as PJ taking the pictures above, we also had a close encounter with a turtle which seems to be resident on the wreck. The turtle in turn had a close and inadvertent encounter with one of Mike Dalton’s fins. I hope he wasn’t upset (the turtle that is).
See also: The National Page 5 28th August 2012 on our Links page above, or go to: http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/glory-story-begins-to-unravel-off-ajman-coast utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=Daily%2BNewsletter%2B28-08-2012
And below you can download the story as published in the September 2012 issue of OUTDOORUAE
Further to the publication of The National online article on the 'Ajman Glory' Marc de Ruyter forwarded the link to Mr Cor Dijk (crew member on the Dollard in 1961). His immediate reply (in Dutch) translates as follows:
Thank you very much for sending me the link to the news article about the last resting place of M/S Dollard.
Reading the article and seeing the pictures and video was a quite an emotional experience. Fifty years ago this was my very first job [note: Cor joined the ship when he was only 15 years old]. The captain, who also owned the ship, was Poppo Dekker. At the time I would have never have thought that the ship could sink.
I managed to save the news article to my computer. . . The diving video footage is extremely beautiful, especially considering the depth the ship is at. It appears that the sea is still very pristine there.
Please find the link of my website about M/S Dollard below, which I believe you must have found already:
[note: The link is listed by Google as hosting malware]
With the Eid holidays this week, we managed to get in an extra day’s diving. Both of them were on the Mullah 2 aka Ajman Glory about which the evidence continues to mount. Last week I speculated that some photographs of the vessel afloat might settle the issue but I didn’t really expect to see any. Within a couple of days both David De Marneffe and Marc De Ruyter had responded with not just pictures but a lot of good information that they had found on websites. One of these pictures is attached.
Anyway, what we can now confirm is as follows:
The “Dollard” was a 52.7m by 8.5m coaster with a draught of 3.0m, constructed in Haarlem, Netherlands in 1957. After ten years in Europe the ship was acquired by Indonesian owners and moved to the far east where it variously went by the names of “Pariaman”, “Maria Fortune” and “Lady Maya”. In 1989 the ship became the “Ajman Glory” when it was purchased by middle-eastern owners and brought to the Arabian Gulf. After less than a year under its new name, the vessel sank on 28 August 1989 whilst sailing from Hamriyah to Bandar Abbas in Iran carrying a cargo of vinyl acetate monomer. It had been abandoned by its crew at the time of the sinking making its final location highly uncertain. What caused it to go down we don’t know, but there was probably a combination of factors including bad weather and engine trouble (the engines were by now 32 years old), maybe possibly an inexperienced crew.
So is this the vessel that we’ve been diving? As reported last week, the dimensions match almost exactly and seeing the photographs, all of us who have dived the wreck were sure we had a positive identification. Nevertheless, something more systematic was needed so on Friday we headed out to the site, armed with the pictures and intent on having a closer look. PJ made a “video tour” which can be seen above, but we can confirm that the details visible in the picture were found on the wreck. The basic shape, the six drainage openings, the four vertical pipes in front of the bridge, the trapezoidal cut-out at the bow, the anchors, the masts, the two holds and other features were all present and correct. We’re now confident that the “Ajman Glory” has been discovered at last.
On Sunday we went back out there, this time as a joint trip with DSDC. Although it was us who came up with co-ordinates, it was Brian Lugg who realised the possible connection to the “Thinner Wreck” and thence to the “Ajman Glory”. After one dive we left them to it and did a second dive on the “Tek”, the small tug-boat about half way back to Hamriyah. By now the current was picking up so after clearing a few more nets from the boat and doing a few circuits, we headed back to the club for some hard-earned refreshment.
From: Ian Hussey
Sent: 18 August 2012 05:49
To: Mceachan Nelson
Subject: Re: Ajman Glory
We dived the wreck again yesterday. Peter is putting together a "video tour" which will be uploaded to youtube shortly but I can tell you that every detail matches what can be seen in the photos and there's no doubt in my mind that we have a positive i.d. Would you agree with this or is more required from a hydrographic office point of view?
Below are pictures of the Ajman Glory in her first life as the Dutch MS Dollard, hosted on the net by a former crew member Mr Cor Dijk - clearly its Engineer and visible in some of the images (see pages from his merchant "ticket"!). While a few of his images may not be of the Dollard/Ajman Glory, they very well capture life on a small freighter.
L-R: Peter Jackson, Mike Murphy, Derek Roberts, Geoff Patch (top) Rob Gill, Ian Hussey, & Mike Dalton on Hamriyah slip on Friday with SP312 after diving both Mullah 2 and the Dara.
Some interesting news this week. It seems that the Mullah 2 that we’ve been diving for a few weeks now could be the elusive Ajman Glory – much sought after but never found. The wreck has been known about for some time but its location defeated some concerted efforts to track it down. Brian King in particular put a lot of effort into finding it when he was here. Fast forward a few years and a chance encounter with some divers from Umm Al Quwain provided us with some co-ordinates of two wrecks we’d never heard of, one of which they called the Mullah 2 (probably not its real name). Having dived it a few times, we passed the co-ordinates on to Brian Lugg, once of this parish but now Diving Officer of DSDC in Dubai (how the mighty are fallen!)
Brian checked his records and noticed that the location was very close to a wreck identified by Chris Lobel 10 – 15 years ago. Chris called it the “MV Isobel” or the “Thinner wreck” because of barrels of what he described as paint thinner in the holds. He made a sketch which is attached below. Seeing the sketch it was clear to us that the Mullah 2 and the Thinner wreck are the same vessel. The difference in co-ordinates is probably because in those days the US military were still scrambling the GPS signal.
ABOVE:archive photo sourced by Marc De Ruyter, MV Ajman Glory (built 1957, formerly Dollard).
Brian then contacted the UK Hydrographic Office and their response was as follows:
The ‘thinner wreck’ is an interesting one. AJMAN GLORY was lost on 28.8.89 on passage Hamriyah for Bandar Abbas. She was initially reported as having sunk in 25 58N, 55 38E but this was later revised to being her last known position and as she was abandoned afloat she could have drifted a considerable distance. The wreck was inserted on charts as a Dangerous Wreck, Position Doubtful in response to US charting action. She was 52.7mtrs by 8.5mtrs, with a draught of 3.0mtrs. 497 gross tons and carried a cargo of vinyl acetate monomer – which I believe is a feedstock for the manufacture of PVA glue – but I imagine that you have some good chemists to hand! Later in 1989 it was reported that ‘>1000 drums of toxic and inflammable chemicals has broken free from the wreck and have washed up on the UAE coastline,’ however I have no information whether the cargo was in drums or in bulk. With the reported length of 50mtrs and beam 7mtrs it seems likely that your colleagues have finally located her.
I think that the scanned diagram notes ‘small motor vessel – 2 hulls’. This may be a double hull vessel but I have no details of her construction. Could I ask that you contact the divers again and see if they have any further data which could confirm the identification? If they can it would be of great value as we could remove the Dangerous Wreck symbol from the chart.
I won’t take any charting action yet in case you can uncover more details.
Thanks and regards,
UK Hydrographic Office
Naturally last Friday we went back to the wreck to take some measurements (and therein lies a story) and the vessel measured exactly 8.5m across the beam. The length was more difficult to measure accurately but it’s between 50m and 55m – clearly in the right ballpark for the Ajman Glory.
So have we found it? Maybe too soon to say absolutely but if we could find some photos of the AG when it was floating and it appeared the same as the Mullah 2 then that must be fairly certain I’d have thought. Anyone out there have any pictures?
Going back to that story – if you were laying a line from one end of a wreck to the other would you tie off at the stern and make your way to the bow? Or would you tie off and head off on a theoretical compass bearing hoping to find the bow? Needless to say our new Chairman selected the latter option and soon found himself in mid-water, nowhere near the wreck with a couple of bewildered buddies behind him. Never mind we got the measurement eventually, as PJ's video below shows.
Footnote: Marc has found the following link www.marhisdata.nl/printschip.php?id=1755 for a very full technical record of the 'Ajman Glory' in the Dutch Maritime Historical Databank. This includes a heading 'ship history data' confirming the cargo of vinylacetate monomer carried at the time of sinking.
PJ concludes: After all this detective work and some well-measured diving, not to forget our second dive: De-gassing after the Mullah/Ajman Glory, with the first wave down on the Dara, those of us doing boat cover were treated first to a large barnacle encrusted turtle catching breath on the surface, followed by a 2012 Olympic high-jumping Eagle-ray., which between them made up for fairly limited fish life seen below the waves
The Dara as ever an interesting dive, but the wreck continues to disintegrate. While offering a good number of dramatic swim throughs, it is obvious that there has been significant deterioration of the hull over the past year. Derek's dramatic photo below captures a view into the "Cathedral" from the deck below.
And while mentioning corrosion, on the equipment side, we have just had to junk a cylinder because it was too badly corroded around the base. If using Club (or your own) steels, please make sure that you rinse inside the boot after your dives.
With several people away on leave and the three xxxx’s (make your own up) gallivanting in the Musandam (of which more later) numbers were reduced to the point where me and PJ decided to abandon the Mullah and head for the east coast to see how the other half dives. This was Al Boom’s Al Aqah dive centre in Fujairah where we had booked to dive the Inchcapes.
There was an annoying hour's delay at the beginning while we waited for a solitary latecomer but it’s undeniably pleasant to have someone else sorting the boat out and humping tanks around. We launched from Dadna harbour and made the short boat ride out to Inchcape 1. This wreck was a deliberate sinking in 2001 to create a dive site and it lies in about 30m of water. It was sent down by the Inchcape Shipping company hence the name. Kitting up on the boat, our blue overalls aroused strange comment but nothing we haven’t heard before! The wreck is small but is covered in soft corals which you don’t often see on the west coast. There was also a shoal of snappers which seemed quite comfortable with divers and let you get close. Apparently there are often moray eels but they seemed to have gone (“for Ramadan” according to another dive operator on the site). There is an easy swim through down the centre of the vessel emerging near the bow.
Inchcape 2 is very similar but shallower allowing a longer dive time (or would have done had it been the first dive of the day). There is a good swim through from section to section down the centre of the vessel and again like the Inchcape 1, there was a shoal of tame snappers. There were also a couple of morays that presumably weren’t fasting. From there it was back to port and home. A very good day was had by all. The only problem was that the large number of divers on a small wreck made it seem like Piccadilly Circus at times.
Peter took some video of the Inchcapes which can be seen above. A few photos of the Khasab dives are attached including one of Soren who was coincidentally there at the same time. About time he joined us on a club dive!
Geoff now takes up the Khasab story:
How to classify the three 406-ers (Derek, Rob and Geoff) that went to Khasab last weekend; ‘The 3 Amigos’, ‘The 3 Wise Monkeys’, ‘The 3 Musketeers’, ‘The 3 Wise Men’, ‘The 3 Degrees’, ‘The 3 Stooges’, ‘Wrecky, Techy and Fish-head’ .…. ‘The Good, the Bad & the Ugly’ .…. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide at the end of this report.
After a painless border crossing and ‘James Bond-esque’ night-drive along the spectacular Khasab road, we checked into the Golden Tulip and enjoyed a couple of brews on the balcony before turning in for an early night.
We were diving with Extra Divers who are conveniently located at the Golden Tulip and after struggling to decide on what job title to enter on the disclaimer form (suggestions such as ‘kitten juggler’ and ‘tosser’ being recognised as vocations rather than careers) we took the short drive to Khasab Harbour and loaded our kit onto Extra Divers catamaran dive boat. Powered by 2x 250 Suzuki 4 strokes and blessed with a flat sea, we made good time across the water to the first dive site, delayed only slightly by a brief encounter with a friendly police boat.
‘No Palm Beach’ is in a sheltered bay on the east of Musandam Island, one of the many islands at the tip of the Musandam peninsula and provided a good first dive with a variety of marine life on show. The sloping reef ran down to beyond 30m, and BSAC 406’s old friend Soren, who was also on the boat, advised that he and his dive buddy had descended to 51m on air! Being a full moon and spring tides, we anticipated running into current at some stage and sure enough, about 20 minutes into the dive and 20m down we rounded a rocky outcrop and ran straight into a stiff current. It was at this point that one member of our 3-ship indicated he was down to 50 bar and required a controlled ascent to the surface, which was executed in text book fashion.
Our Omani captain obviously knew the area well, and we were treated to excellent views of sea eagles on the sea cliffs and eagle rays basking at the surface whilst burning the minutes to our next dive. The second dive was at Bu Rashid island on a site called ‘The Wall’, so named with good reason. We dropped in and with visibility around 8-10m had a very enjoyable dive with even more marine life than the first dive. One of the highlights was a monstrous crayfish on one of the many ledges, which if Rob had remembered to take a pool cue on the dive would have ended up on a dinner plate. On approaching the surface we found ourselves entering what seemed to be a cave but turned out to be a massive undercut running for some distance under the sea cliffs.
Our final dive, a night dive, was on a small wreck just a few kilometers from Khasab Harbour known as ‘the Landing Craft’. This was one of three craft used to ferry water and supplies to the remote villages scattered around the peninsula. Sitting upright in about 8m of water this provided a reasonable dive with many small critters such as crabs, baby octopus and a dead juvenile manta ray on the deck (we knew it was dead after Soren had prodded it several times with his dive knife to no effect).
After washing our kit in a superb rinse tank arrangement (something we should consider at 406) back at the hotel, the 3* (choose from opening paragraph) convened the equivalent of a geriatric frat party in room 411, including room service, a variety of exotic bottled decompression fluids and the obligatory stained bed linen – was it the mutton curry or something more sinister? We’ll never know.
After a hearty breakfast the next day we headed into the mountains for a bit of off-roading, sea level to >1700m and back, with some stunning views along the way. All in all a very enjoyable weekend – interesting diving with a professional dive operator, stunning scenery and the customary level of high quality 406 verbal abuse.
Top tips and learning from the weekend:
· Hand signals for effective underwater communication are essential, but do ensure you and your buddies are signing in the same language.
· Dive briefings reminding you to take your dive computer are generally for a reason.
· Although head torches free up hands, don’t wear one on a night dive as it tends to blind your dive buddies and p*** them off when looking at them.
· Take a pool cue on every dive …. just in case.
· Walking 100km in under 30hours is not a valid excuse for making your buddies walk up a hill while you drive up in air conditioned luxury
· Read the ‘how to engage 4wd’ section of the manual before attempting a rough and rutted track.
· Deck shoes are not ideal footwear for hiking in the mountains.
Ian Hussey and Dive Club writers.