On the 9th of April 1942 around 0700hrs the british navy was alerted about a possible Air raid. The HMS HERMES and her escort ships left the night before from the Trincomalee Harbor. Soon the air was filt with the sound of roaring plain engines coming closer.
Then in a split second about 70 heavily armed carrier borne Japanese aircrafts attacked Trincomalee harbor and other British Naval assets. The absence of the HMS Hermes had been a surprise to the japanese. However some of the japanese aircrafts bound to the south and spotted The Hermes in a fleet.
At 1100hrs HMS HERMES was attacked by about 70 Japanese Aircrafts. She had taken 40 direct hits and became a floating coffin. She lost her Captain R.J.Onslaw, 19 officers and 282 Royal Navy Sailors. About 23 survivors managed their way to the shore another 400 were rescued by a Hospital ship.
A new future About 60 years after the tragedy Mr. Felician Fernando a local diver from the west coast of Sri Lanka has found the final resting place of the HMS HERMES in Batticaloa.
Felician gathered lots of information about the ship. Still he wasn’t sure about the exact coordinates. Finally he found Mr. Prince Casinader, who was a 16 year old teenager during the time of the Indian Ocean attack.
Mr. Casinader is the only Citizen in Batticaloa who has witnessed the Attack and the sinking of HERMES who is still alive.
As per the information he got from Mr. Casinader. Felician started his journey to find the wreck. Since modern apparatus were not available Felician had to use a primitive methods used by local fisherman to find reefs underwater.
After numerous expeditions to find the wreck Felician found the HMS Hermes hidden at 60m in the deep waters of the Indian Ocean. It was his destiny to find her, and see the HMS HERMES for the first tine since 1942.
A salute to the lost sailors
On the 9th of April 2012 Feli will dive the wreck with his colleague to pay a last tribute to the sunken Ship and her valiant sailors, they will bring flowers to the wreck.
The descent will start through the Shot line (anchor line) at the exact time, when the Hermes been attacked and sunk by the Japanese at 1035hrs.
Update from Book Your Dive:
Today the 15th of april 2012 a week after the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the HMS HermesCarol Marshall contacted us. Carol is a daughter of one of the survivors of the HMS Hermes.
Carol complimented us with the write up and wanted to let us know that at the same time their was a memorial in Sri Lanka she attended a ceremony in the UK.
Until this day survivors of the HMS attack are still amongst us. We pay our respects to the survivors and the men who lost their lives that day.
What is your favorite wreck dive? Let us know in the comments below
Would you like to go dive the HMS Hermes in Sri Lanka? Feel free to contact us.
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Article written by Rutger Thole who is an avid scuba diver and loves to travel, dive and write about scuba diving. Based in Amsterdam he runs bookyourdive.com and at least twice a year he plans a dive trip of the beaten track.