Saturday 1 October 2016

Divers drowned off Cork coast after spending too long exploring World War II U-boat

Published 29/05/2015 | 02:30

The Type VIIC sub wreck is located 5km off the west Cork coast but, because of the nature of the seabed where it rests, can only be dived in a slack tide
The Type VIIC sub wreck is located 5km off the west Cork coast but, because of the nature of the seabed where it rests, can only be dived in a slack tide

Two veteran divers drowned after getting into difficulty when they spent two minutes longer than planned exploring a World War II German U-boat on the seabed off the Irish coast.

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Steven Clarke (65) and Jonathan 'John' Scott (61) ascended from a depth of 40m at twice the recommended rate and missed their final three decompression safety stops.

Both divers drowned after suffering from 'the bends' or barotrauma, a severe decompression illness caused by surfacing too fast and not allowing pressurised nitrogen to disperse from their bloodstream.

A Cork coroner's inquest heard equipment owned by the divers did not meet EU standards and, at depth, may have forced them to breathe more heavily and run out of air more quickly than expected.

Dive expert Garda Dave Finn said the duo spent two minutes longer than planned on the U-260 at a depth of 40m - and then ascended at a rate of more than 18m per minute, almost twice the recommended rate.

Dive computers worn by both men had signalled warnings about their ascent.

Mr Clarke was from Capel Dorking, UK, while Mr Scott was from Morley, Australia. Mr Clarke had over 1,200 dives logged, while Mr Scott died on his 480th dive.

The Type VIIC sub wreck is located 5km off the west Cork coast but, because of the nature of the seabed where it rests, can only be dived in a slack tide.

It was scuttled on March 12, 1945 having sustained damage on a submerged rock outcrop - with the entire 53-strong crew interned in Ireland.

The inquest, before Cork coroner Dr Myra Cullinane, returned verdicts of death by misadventure in relation to the incident off Glandore in west Cork on July 2, 2014.

Irish Independent

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