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SS Laurentic is a boat accessible salt water dive site, located in Malin Head, Ireland. The maximum depth is 131-140ft/40-43m. The average visibility is 41-50ft/12-15m.


The liner SS Laurentic was en route to the United States at the height of WWI when it struck two mines and sank in 130 feet of water, killing more than 350 of its crew. In its holds were 43 tons of gold ingots to pay for war supplies, valued then at more than $8 million, now equivalent to a staggering $1.8 billion.

Recovery of the gold was top priority for the Royal navy dive team, “The Tin Openers,” which was already renowned for its exploits penetrating sunken U-boats. After two weeks of extremely hazardous diving, they entered the strong room filled with stacks of gold-bullion boxes. But storms suspended diving operations — when the divers returned, the wreck had shifted. The strong-room entrance was now in much deeper water, and the gold was gone, scattered among the wreckage by wave action. The team persevered, recovering all but 25 bars; five more were recovered during private salvage operations in the 1930s. Twenty bars still remain unaccounted for, today worth nearly $10 million.

Nearly 100 years later, the atmospheric wreck of Laurentic teems with life. Inshore water here is green, rather than the deep blue of offshore, but visibility still exceeds 50 feet, allowing us to see the whole of the picturesque bow, which lies on its port side. The extensive salvage, combined with sea action, has left the wreck broken up and quite fat, with decking and hull plates lying over each other like a collapsed pack of cards, but it is still easy to appreciate the huge scale of this 550-foot liner.

As we make the swim aft, numerous compass jellyfish hover above the wreck, and we eventually reach a perfectly intact deck gun. Remembering a navigational tip from our briefing, we head in the direction the gun points, finally reaching row after row of giant Scotch boilers, which provided the huge amounts of power needed to propel this classic steamship across the Atlantic. The mammoth ships that lie on the seabed at Malin Head are testament to how vitally important the supply link between the U.S. and Great Britain was during times of war. Many of the sailors who manned these immense ships made the ultimate sacrifice to keep those routes open at all costs.


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