The Northcoates is around 8.5nm SW from Littlehampton Marina and in a reasonable depth of water for most divers and very intact. The Northcoates was a trawler commissioned by the Admiralty during the war, fitted with a large forward gun and used as a minesweeper until 1944. After getting into difficulties due to engine failure Northcoates was taken under tow where she foundered and sunk in heavy seas. Being a trawler and at only 120ft x 25ft she is small enough to explore in one dive without having to rack up too much deco, she gives a good idea of ship layout with the added bonus of a mounted gun.
She is reasonably shipshape and so finding your way around is quite easy. The decking amidships has collapsed down allowing views of the triple expansion engine below, forward the deck is more intact where the impressive 12lb gun still lies attached to its deck mounting, pointing upwards. In this area there are some partially collapsed hatches that could be penetrated, which was quite silted and I would not recommend entry. The bow has a large ‘A’ frame still attached and hanging forward onto the seabed beyond, this was part of the arm used for its sweeping duties. Moving aft the area around where the wheelhouse would have been is mostly collapsed with the boiler lying close by. In this area there are coils of cables, more evidence of its life as a minesweeper. The stern is again very intact and rises about 4-5m up from the seabed, underneath, the rudder and prop still lie in situ.
The wreck attracts lots of life, with big shoals of pouting and odd Pollock and bass, but what I remembered was a close eye to eye encounter with a big conger that gave me a start whilst rooting around near the boiler. It is a popular fishing spot and so be wary of stray monofilament line. Because of its popularity and small size anything more than a dozen divers I guess can make this a crowded and potentially silt-stirred dive.
Depths:28m-32m (LW / HW)
Profile:stands 4-6 metres proud of seabed.
Position:(WGS84): 50 39.65N / 000 35.35W 50 39.70N/ 000 35.38W, (wreck points south) *(position is approximate)
Slack:approx 1hr before HW / HW+6
R.Nokes - May 2010
*Wreck exact position is available on request. If you are a member of another club and would like to exchange GPS codes, we would like to hear from you.