Latitude 50° 19.632 N
Longitude 004° 15.223 W
Depth 24m
Accuracy 5m (SHIPS)
Reference NMR 1526504
Location Description Whitsand Bay, Cornwall
Craft type Frigare, Leander class
Date built 1968
Year of loss 2004
Manner of loss Scuttled
Outcome Abandoned
Construction Steel
Propulsion Steam turbine
Nationality United Kingdom
Departure port Plymouth
Destination port None
Hull length 113.4m
Hull beam 13.1m
Hull displacement 3300 tons
Crew 260
Built HM Dockyard, Devonport
Owners Royal Navy

HMS Scylla

HMS Scylla (F71) was a 2500 ton Royal Navy Leander class frigate, she was the last frigate to be built at Devonport dockyard, launched in August 1968 and commissioned in 1970. Scylla carried Sea Cat missiles, 4.5 inch guns and a Lynx helicopter housed in the hanger at the stern. She was later equipped with Sea Wolf missiles as well as anti-Exocet countermeasures; ironically it was her upgrade to these weapon systems which prevented Scylla from taking part in the Falklands War where many British casualties resulted from Argentine use of those same missiles. Scylla served in the Far East and in January 1973 was involved in a collision with the Torpoint-Devonport Ferry during fog which led to the court martial of her captain.

Scylla is perhaps better remembered for her role during the 1972-1976 Icelandic Cod War as a RN protection vessel. In June 1973 when two British trawlers rammed the Icelandic gunboat Arhakur; Scylla was alleged to have assisting the trawlers. Whatever the truth may be, less than a week later Scylla herself was rammed by the gunboat Aegir and Scylla’s retaliation forced the Aegir to abandon the confrontation.

HMS Scylla went on to serve around the globe during the 1970s and 1980s, including playing a part in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations, before being decommissioned in December 1993.

The Scylla was sunk on 27th March 2004 as an artificial reef 600m to the west of the Liberty ship James Eagan Layne in a project managed by the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, she had oil and hazardous materials removed to avoid pollution and many interior features were taken out to allow better access for divers. Until 2014 the wreck was monitored by the National Marine Aquarium as she has rapidly become colonised with anemones, hydroids, sea fans and dead men’s fingers in addition to shoals of fish.

At the time the Scylla was scuttled she was said to be the first artificial reef in Europe, when in fact she was the third after the Glen Strathallan in 1970 and the Tavy in 1995 which were also sunk off Plymouth.

Diving the Wreck

The wreck now lies with her bows to the south-west, upright and intact. It is possible to access the superstructure and significant parts of the interior – this was further facilitated through the removal of sections of the hull. Many interior walls have now collapsed, as has much of the helicopter hanger, so Scylla’s interior is now much more like other wrecks.It is worth noting that from the outset, Scylla’s engine room was sealed with concrete.

Scylla is a popular dive site and is visited by many hundreds of divers each year. Like all shipwrecks, Scylla contains silt which can prevent divers recovering exit points so, despite all the preparation that went into her preparation for sinking as a diving attraction, she should still be dived with the respect she deserves.

email If you have any more information about this ship then please contact us.


HMS Scylla

The Scylla under tow

HMS Scylla

Scylla being prepared for sinking (SHIPS Archive)

HMS Scylla

HMS Scylla being scuttled