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The M2

Conning tower of the M2 - Courtesy of John Liddiard

Conning tower of the M2 - Courtesy of John Liddiard

Scuba Diving South Coast England, UK, Europe

Dive Site: M2

Location: 50°35.59N; 2°33.97W

Description: Submarine

Length: 90 metres (295 feet)

Depth: 36 metres (118 feet)

Visibility: 10 metres (30 feet)

Rating: ****

The M2 is an intact submarine that was used to carry small two-seater aircraft. It sank in 1932 just west of Portland during a routine trip. It is thought the hanger doors failed to seal properly, allowing the sea water to flood the vessel. If you head down to the rear of the submarine and turn your torch off, you can view the silhouette of the propellers in all their splendour. Brightly coloured sponges cover the upper parts of the submarine, and there is the possibility of seeing conger eels, crabs and lobsters on the seafloor. Slack water is 3 to 4 hours after Portland high water.


Visibility of 10m could be the average, but it was more like 2-5m on our last visit. With much darkened light levels, the whole exciting submarine experience changes into something a little more gloomier, especially when knowing the crew died in the vessel. It should be treated with reverence and respect.

Descending down the line in an ever darkening snowstorm, with much plankton-type material flying by, the line eventually stopped at the conning tower top somewhere around 27m. Moving forward the main deck is not found initially as you glide over the top of the aircraft hangar. This stops abruptly about 5m or so ahead, a slight reality-check pause before dropping a further few metres to the main deck.

Luckily, the vis. improves at deck line and the small pebbly seabed is found at 36m, passing the bulbous ballast tanks on descent. Swimming along the starboard side of the forward part of the boat a depressed area in the hull reveals one of the bow torpedo tubes. On air or nitrox, time is of the essence as the bow itself appears.

Looking back down the line of the boat both sides can now be seen and at this depth, a one minute stop is an age. Best now to ascend to the main deck, swimming along the side so the conning tower is picked out. Once found this is a great part of the dive, by swimming around whilst gradually ascending. Looking sternwards several grills can be seen and as the conning stands out in the current, many colourful plumose anemones adorn its upperworks. The bridge can be found, however it is now time to look for the line and ascent soon follows...

Tony Gilbert | 19/12/2008



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