The southern Kent coastline between Dungeness and Deal, including Dover and Folkestone is a wreck divers’ paradise and has some of the best scuba diving in the world, not just the UK. There are more shipwrecks in these waters than any part of Britain. The English Channel has always been the bastion of our defences and as a result, the Straight of Dover has been a regular battleground and the shipwreck casualties litter the seabed, put to their final resting place by mine, torpedo, cannonball, mortar shell, fireships, machine gun and aircraft bombs.
That said, not all on the seabed is the result of war or battle as the English Channel can experience fierce tides and storm. In the says of sail, the Downs and similar anchorages were supposed to be a safe haven, but many of them perished. Similar, the Goodwin Sands or ‘great ship swallower’ has claimed its victim due to navigation error and at a conservative estimate, it is said that there are over 2,500 ships entombed in the shifting sands since records began.
HMS Brazen (H80) [+1940]
SV Preussen (Preußen) [+1910]
The “Preussen” or Preußen in German and as written on the vessel. Named after the German state and kingdom of Prussia, she was the world’s only ship of this class with five masts carrying six square sails on each mast, some 5,081 tons and five masts, 408 foot long with a beam of 52 foot and a draught of 27. She was carrying a general cargo including cement and 100 pianos from Hamburg to Valparaiso when she collided with the cross channel steamer, “Brighton” on 5th November 1910.
The Preussen was badly damaged and started to take on water. A plethora of tugs tried to get Captain Nissen and his ship into Dover, but the towlines snapped in the gale and she drove ashore in Crab Bay. The German crew stayed aboard and the Kaiser sent a telegram of encouragement, but she was too badly damaged on the rocks to be moved.
SS Maloja [+1916]
The SS Maloja is a classic P&O steamer, had a dazzling profile combined with a complex character. Actually an enlarged 19th Century liner, the Maloja’s interior was distinctly “Mark Twain.” The First Class Music Room, complete with a baby grand piano, was located on an open gallery over the dining saloon, its long tables furnished with rows of fixed, revolving chairs.
A remarkable photograph, exclusively secured by “Daily Mail” of the scene immediately after the vessel’s final plunge. Tugs, Pinnaces, Destroyers and patrol boats are seen engaged in the work of picking up survivors. The swirl of the water, marking the spot where the liner sank, is distinctly visible in the picture. Just beyond are to be noticed pieces of wreckage to which survivors are clinging, and a number of small boats engaged in the rescue work.
SS Pommerania [+1878]
Not to be confused with the similar sounding “Pomeranian” dived out or Weymouth and Portland, the SS Pommerania was a German ocean liner built in 1873. Owned by Hapag, she measured 360 feet by 40 feet at 3,382 grt and carried 109 passengers. Produced 600 horsepower from a two-cylinder compound engine. She sank on 26th November 1878 in a collision with the British iron barque Moel Eilian off Dover. 48 lives were lost.
A ferry token to cross the river Elbe in Hamburg was found on the Pommerania. Crell’s Dampffähre – valid for one journey.
From early times many boats crossed the River Elbe near Hamburg and the rise of its harbour made it necessary for millions of men to be transported over the water by ferry each year. From known tokens we already have the names of some of the owners of these ferry boats: P. Gall (Smith 390 D), Grell (not “Crell” – Smith 390 E,F) and Gebr. Luders (Smith 390 B,C).
The company that owned the SS Pommerania was HAPAG which is Hamburg American. We guess the boat builder workers used to use the steam ferry to get to work.
HMS Hermes [+1914]
Ten ships of the Royal Navy have been named HMS Hermes, the messenger god of Greek mythology. Built by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd of Glasgow in 1898, this HMS Hermes was was a Highflyer-class cruiser launched in 1898, converted into an experimental seaplane tender in 1913 and sunk by German U-boat U-27 on 31st October 1914 (Bernd Wegener), 8 miles WNW of Calais at Ruylingen Bank. Twenty two persons were lost. Read more at Wrecksite.EU
HMS Flirt 
HMS Flirt was a Star-class destroyer (three-funnelled C-type). She was launched by Palmers in 1897 and served in the great war patrolling the Strait of Dover as part of the Dover Patrol. Her service came to an end when on 27 October 1916 during the Battle of Dover Strait she was torpedoed and sunk by German destroyers. Read more at Wrecksite.EU and dive log.
SM UB-78 [+1918]
Mined and sunk with all hands while traveling through the Straits of Dover into the English Channel from occupied Flanders. The Royal Navy had a poor understanding of when specific Flanders-based U-boats sailed and their assigned patrol areas, and thus did not realize that the submarine that they believed had sunk on a mine on 19th April 1918 was UB-78. Identity confirmed by local divers from markings on the U-boat’s propellers. Read more at Wrecksite.EU and dive log.
SS Cuvier [+1900]
The SS Cuvier was am iron screw steamer weighing 2,000 tons and sank on 9th March 1900 after collision with the SS Dovre off East Goodwin Sands, 38 lives lost. The captain and 37 men of the crew were drowned. The Dovre did not stand by and offer assistance. Following the collision the survivors stated that she blew her whistle for assistance, and shortly afterwards settled down by the stern and sank. Most of the men were in their bunks. Read more at Wrecksite.EU
SS Unity [+1918]
The three steamers Equity, Liberty and Unity were acquired from the Co-Operative Wholesale Society in 1906; they had been built in 1888, 1900 and 1902 respectively for Goole-Hamburg services. Unity was a war loss in 1918, the others survived until 1932, when they were sold to Italian owners.
Built by Murdoch & Murray, Port Glasgow in 1902 and owned at the time of her loss by Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Company, Goole, the SS Unity was a British steamer of 1,091 tons. On 2nd May 1918, she was on a voyage from Newhaven to Calais with a cargo of ordinance and sunk by the German U-boat UB-57, nine miles southeast of Folkestone. Twelve lives were lost though her Captain was amongst the survivors.
SM UB-55 [+1918]
She operated as part of the Flanders Flotilla based in Zeebrugge. On 22nd Apri 1918, the German submarine UB-55, built in 1916 by Weser A. G. was sunk by a mine. Between 15 and 20 men escaped from the sinking submarine, but only 8 were found alive by the British trawler Mate . One of the men died on the ship while being transported to Dover. Read more at Wrecksite.EU
MV Eleonora [+1979]
A more recent loss. Previously known as the Obotrita, a West German MV of 499 tons was travelling to Felixstowe from Cadiz with a cargo of 66 containers of wine when she collided with the Belgian cross-channel ferry called the Prinses Maria Esmarelda on 30th May 1979. In the collision, some 18 containers of her deck cargo broke free, but the main damage was below deck and more severe and sank. Today the 80m ship lays at 26m and 7m proud. Some salvage work has been carried out. Her hull is clear upright and there are still containers of wine on the wreck.