Wednesday 26 October 2016

Divers drowned after spending extra time on German U-boat wreck


Jonathan Scott
Jonathan Scott
Steven Clarke

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.

Steven Clarke (65) and Jonathan Scott (61) inexplicably 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 decompression illness caused by surfacing too fast and not allowing pressurised nitrogen to disperse from the bloodstream.

A Cork coroner's inquest heard that the 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 faster than expected.

Diving expert Gda Dave Finn said it is impossible to know precisely what went wrong.

But he 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 18 metres per minute, almost twice the recommended rate.

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

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster found both men drowned, with barotrauma a factor in the deaths.

The friends got into difficulty while diving on the U-260 wreck off Glandore in west Cork last July 2.

Mr Clarke was from Capel Dorking in the UK while Mr Scott was from Morley in Western Australia.

The Type VIIC sub wreck is located 5km off the coast at a depth of 42 metres.

It was scuttled by its crew on March 12, 1945.

Cork coroner Dr Myra Cullinane was told that Mr Clarke and Mr Scott were life-long friends and were in west Cork with fellow diver, Clive Evans, and his son, Luke.


Mr Clarke had more than 1,200 dives logged while Mr Scott died on his 480th dive.

They went to the wreck site with specialist dive operator Jerry Smith.

Mr Smith only provided air refills and transport, with the men using their own dive equipment.

The inquest returned verdicts of death by misadventure.

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