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Lars Hemel
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Certification Number:
PADI 471740
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Scuba diving at the SAS Pietermaritzburg or HMS Pelorus while re-tracking its importance during D-Day, WWII.

Name Dive Site:SAS Pietermaritzburg
Depth: 12-19m (39-62ft)
Visibility: 3-15m (9-49ft)
Inserted/Added by: lars, © Author: Lars Hemel

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The SAS Pietermaritzburg (HMSAS Pietermaritzburg) or HMS Pelorus as it is better known was one of the ships that led the invasion to Normandy on D-Day, Second World War, 6th of June 1944. Being part of the English Navy, this Algerian-class minesweeper swept the channel free of mines for other ships to enter France. The South African navy purchased her in 1947 and used her mostly for training missions and as a minesweeper. She was armed with a single 4" anti-aircraft gun and four 20 mm guns.

She was scuttled outside False Bay on November 12, 1994 to create an artificial reef. Most dive charters start at Millers Point slipway near Simon's Town from where it is only a 2km boat trip to get to this historic wreck dive. She makes for a great wreck dive, broken into three parts during storms in 2006. You can enter parts of the wreck though, but be extremely careful. Winter months are best and don't forget your torch. The marine life and growth are spectacular for a ship this young. The SAS Pietermaritzburg is an eerie dive and absolute must.

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Name: indigoscuba

The Pietermaritzburg (fondly known by divers as "The PMB)" was formerly known as the HMS Pelorus. She was built in Scotland as a minesweeper for the Royal Navy and launched in June 1943. During World War 2, she was assigned to escort convoys in the Atlantic and lead the D-Day invasion of Normandy in 1944. HMS Pelorus was sold to the South African navy in 1947 and renamed the SAS Pietermaritzburg. After seeing active service (her final being used as a naval barracks in Simon's Town harbour), she was scuttled in 1994 to form an artificial reef. She lies in an area quite open to the currents and broke into three pieces during a storm a few years ago. The parts are close together and still recognisable. The PMB is covered with colourful marine life which includes anemones, sea urchins and soft corals. There are also quite a lot of Red Roman that have made this wreck their home.

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