Norway's iconic twin wrecks turns 75 years

On December 16th, 1944 the German freighter MV Ferndale and rescue steamer Parat was sunk by allied aircraft on the Norwegian west coast. Today, the twin wrecks count as the perhaps most iconic dive site in Norway.

Norway's iconic twin wrecks turns 75 years
The iconic twin wreck of Ferndale and Parat, one of Norway's greatest underwater attractions.


Norway's iconic twin wrecks turns 75 years

On December 16th, 1944 the German freighter MV Ferndale and rescue steamer Parat was sunk by allied aircraft on the Norwegian west coast. Today, the twin wrecks count as the perhaps most iconic dive site in Norway.

  16. December 2019
Les på norsk!
MV Ferndale was part of a German convoy heading to Ålesund from Bergen, together with SS Wilhelms and the tug Fairplay X. She was loaded with ammunition and supplies when she struck ground at Seglsteinen.

At this point in the war, the Germans did no longer have daytime air cover for their convoys and the ships had to run at night. Due to strong currents, Ferndale entered the narrow Krakhelle sound earlier than anticipated and was left a sitting duck.

She was taking on water and the rescue steamer Parat was called from nearby Florø to help. In the morning hours, the ships were spotted by a British plane, and an hour later 20 Mosquitos came thundering towards them, guns blazing.

In the morning hours of December 16th, 1944 MV Ferndale and the rescue steamer Parat were attacked by British Mosquitos and sunk in the Krakhelle sound on the Norwegian west coast. Photo: RAF

Resting just four feet apart

Both Ferndale and Parat were shot into flames, and the smoke attracted an additional six Mosquitos which had been on anti-submarine patrol further west. When they also attacked, both ships were doomed.

In addition to the crew, Ferndale had 48 German flak soldiers on board. They defended themselves as best they could with the light anti-aircraft artillery on board, but the blazing fire could not be put out.

Parat slipped beneath the waves shortly after 2 pm, and four hours later the huge freighter followed suit. As luck would have, it the huge freighter didn't crush the smaller vessel and they settled just four feet apart.

See video from a dive at Ferndale and Parat:

Video: Kjell-Ronnie Grytten/YouTube

Seven people killed in the battle

The Vorpostenboot V-5305 «Jäger» was hiding below a steep mountain and tried to protect the stricken Ferndale. She managed to shoot down a Mosquito in both of the attacks: One crashed into the sea, while the other was lost on top of the mountain Meifjellet.

The Allies lost four men on this fateful day, while the Germans had to bury three of their kameraden.

One pilot to lose his life was 22-year-old Flight lieutenant Kenneth Cupples Beruldsen. Having grown up in Australia with a Scottish mother and Norwegian father, he took off from his mum's motherland only to perish in his dad's fatherland hours later.

Ferndale at the dock before the war broke out. The image as been colorized with the help of an algorithm at the Algorithmia website. Photo: Unknown

A spectacular wreck dive

The remains of Ferndale starts in just 20 feet of water, and the stern is found at 100 feet depth. The front half of the ship was salvaged after the war, but from 60 feet and onwards the giant hull is intact and the stern is a beautiful sight.

From this vantage point, you can see the wreck of Parat below. Both wrecks are standing upright, Parat resting in 150–200 ft. of water below and behind the large freighter. Ferndale a great dive for beginners and more experienced divers, while Parat is suitable only for technical divers.

The twin wrecks lie on a 45-degree slope which provides a perfect dive profile. You will enjoy your safety stop or decompression around Seglsteinen, a massive rock covered in anemones and other marine life.

The wreck of Parat is relatively deep, and if you dive it in the winter it's a night dive even during daytime. With the help of dive buddies with dive big lights, it's a spectacular photo opportunity.

Sabotage and desertions

MV Ferndale was built by Deutsche Werft A.G in Hamburg, Germany in 1925 with dimentions 382,7 x 53,4 x 24,9 ft. Her tonnage was 4.302 GRT and she was owned by Glittre A/S in Oslo.

In October 1944, Ferndale was taken as a prize of war by the Reichskommissar für die Seeschiffart in Oslo, because the owners were unable to muster a crew. There had been problems with sabotage and desertions, and the ship entered service for the Kriegsmarine under German flag.

The rescue steamer Parat was built by Trondhjems Mekaniske Verksted in 1905 and measured 108,1 x 19,4 x 8,3 ft. The owner was Det Nordenfjeldske Dykkerselskab, and from 1912 Norsk Bjergningskompagni A/S.

The surrounding area also offers a great nature dive, so everyone has have a great dive even if wrecks is not your thing.

Readily accessible, suitable for all divers

If you want to dive these spectacular twin wrecks, get in touch with Gulen Dive Resort – they run regular trips to the iconic dive site. Even if you're not certified to dive to the bottom of Parat, Ferndale and «Sail Rock» offers a great dive.

If you're looking for great wreck diving – look to Norway!



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