HMS Majestic continues to whet divers’ appetites

HMS Majestic continues to whet divers’ appetites

Majestic’s silhouette becomes visible when one dives deeper than 15 meters and it remains among the most mysterious sunken ships lying in the Dardanelles. It has long been a dream dive for divers.

June 12, 2007, Tuesday/ 20:07:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
Çanakkale bears an interesting title, “the city with the greatest number of sunken ships,” owing to a battle which, as history recorded it, was one of the world’s fiercest and was particularly famous for the involvement of the great fleet of the Allied Forces, which saw the beautiful Aegean city as the last remaining stronghold on their way to conquering İstanbul.
The HMS Majestic, the flagship of the British Navy, was assigned the task of leading the fleet.

Sunk by a German submarine, U-21, during the Battle of Gallipoli, the HMS Majestic has long been a dream dive for both foreign and native divers alike. The ship has been sitting at a depth of 33 meters near the Seddülbahir Lighthouse for 92 years -- however the wreck lies in a zone in which diving is forbidden.

Destroying nearly the half of the coastal part of the city with the missiles it fired, the 14,900-ton and 126-meter giant, with its 757-member crew, was sunk while stationed off West Beach at Cape Helles by the German submarine U-21 on May 27, 1915, even though it was being protected by the accompanying destroyers.

Majestic’s silhouette becomes visible when one dives deeper than 15 meters and it remains among the most mysterious sunken ships, particularly for British and Australian divers, with its undetonated bombs, the revolving platform on which its largest cannon was fixed, its smokestacks and its observation tower, all swathed in a 92-year-old coat of underwater fauna.

A spot of historic value

Working in Çanakkale for a quarter century now as a professional diver and diving teacher, 50-year-old Turgay Yeğin said that Çanakkale was among the world’s most important diving spots, with its famous wrecks. Yeğin noted that thousands of divers had demanded to dive at the spot, but since the wreck of HMS Majestic, lying at N 40 02’ 098’’ E 26 09’ 934’’ and N 40 03’ 153’’ E 26 09’ 903’’, was shown in a no-go zone by the maps coded TR18, TR21 and TR212, prepared by the Hydrographic Directorate, divers are unable to satisfy their desire and curiosity.

Speaking as a representative of the Çanakkale Water Sports Center, Yeğin said they had launched initiatives to make HMS Majestic available for diving in accordance with demands made from outside Turkey. The spot is closed to divers only because it falls within the “forbidden zone” although it is only 16 meters off the Kabatepe coast, meaning it is very far from the closest route to the coast followed by ships, Yeğin noted, and maintained that making this famous wreck available to divers would contribute a great deal to Çanakkale’s tourism.

“Every year, thousands of foreign tourists visiting Çanakkale want to see the wreck of the HMS Majestic. It is a wreck dreamed of by innumerous divers due to its historic value. We believe that it must be made possible to dive around the wreck, at least when accompanied.”

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