Binnendijk SS

Built in N V Werf De Noord @ Alblasserdam, by a sub-company of the ship building tycoon Bonn & Mees during 1921, as part of a large order from the Holland and America line.  Holland-Amerika Lijn (NEDERLANDSCHE-AMERIKAANSCHE STOOVAART);  She was a type “B” class, 6.875 tons; 400.4 x 54.3 x 36.6 (Length 121.9 metres Beam = 16.5 metres Draught = 11.3 metres) 648 nhp; single screw with 3,000 shaft horse power, steam turbine with double reduction gearing with a service speed of 12+ Knt turbine engines; She was designed as a cargo ship.
Shortly after finishing this order Bonn & Mees were forced into liquidation by trade union strikes. The Binnendijk also had seven sister ships: Bilderdijk – torpedoed by a sub on 19/10/1940 sailing from Halifax to Liverpool, Burgerdijk, Blydendijk, Bloommersdijk, Breedijk, Boschdijk, Beemsterdijk – hit a mine off Pembrokeshire in 1941, 40 lives lost.

The Last Voyage

The Dutch steamship Binnendijk (The Benny as she is known locally) set off from Boston under steam to New York during September 1939, she was bound for Rotterdam. On entry to the English Channel, she was requested by the Royal Navy to dock in Weymouth or Portland before crossing the channel for an inspection (there was suspicion of her carrying contraband). On the 7/10/1939 as she travelled up to Portland, the captain – W.Moree requested she drop anchor off the Shambles as the sun was setting. Around 10pm she struck a newly developed German magnetic mine (laid by the U-26). One of the first types used in combat. After striking she was soon ablaze and sinking slowly and literally went down in a blaze of glory, she was alight from stem to stern. She sunk on October 8th, 1939, three miles S.E. of the Shambles light.

The wreck today:
Completely broken. Depth: 23 m. Position: Lulworth Banks, South of Beacon, Dorset.

She sank to her final resting place, 27 metres down and now lies NE/SW some parts of her stand 7-8 metres proud of the seabed which consists of coarse clean stones shingle and rocks, although inside the wreck the hull is full of soft sand. The wreck is well broken after salvage operations but is still substantial and is often diveable when most other sites are blown out, due to her location in the relative lea of Portland and inside the shambles bank.

Many of the plates and ribs of this vessel are still in tact, so plenty of nooks and crannies to explore for lobster and conger eel.  Large shoals of Bib and Pollack can also be found around the wreck.   Local fishermen are also fond of this spot as you can tell from the collection of discarded pots and fishing tackle. Vis can be sometimes excellent around 10 to 15 metres. Because she lies just North of Shambles Bank and close to the Portland Race, very strong currents can be found so take care when planning your dive.

Very nice dive, the stern is completely intact, with doors hanging open, glass in the windows etc. Can see whole parts of the vessel. Part of her cargo was tyres and copper wire, which are much in evidence and her remains make a good rummage dive. There is a tyre on its side, which is roughly a metre in diameter but with a very rounded profile. It looks like it might be an aircraft tyre or even a gun carriage tyre. With the layer of silt fanned away the tread pattern is still sharp and clear after 64 years on the seabed, Wreck Detectives eat your hearts out! Further rummaging will uncover copper windings for a small electric motor with loose wiring in the same area. The wreck has a very large population of Tom Pot Blennies and they appear to be the curators of the wreck, every time you look around there is one watching what you are doing. There are quite a few edible crabs hiding below sections of wreck and Spider crabs are easily found. Beware in low viz as blasting has opened her up in places and it would be very easy to get inside without realising it. A swim round the stern and into the engine room is an exhilarating dive.

From the Liverpool Daily Post, Oct 9th 1939:
The Dutch steamer BINNENDIJK, 6,800tons, bound from New York to Amsterdam was sunk in the English Channel early yesterday, 41 survivors landed in a lifeboat which stood by all night. Capt W. MOREE of Rotterdam, master of the BINNENDIJK, said, he was on the bridge when there was a terrific explosion, and the engines and wireless were put out of action. “The ship began to sink very slowly.” He said “and when we fired rocket signals they were answered… Later an examination vessel came alongside and making fast to our ship, took us off. There were 41 officers and crew we had no passengers.”