Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving Web Site
Home Contact Me Sydney Reef Dive Sites Sydney Shipwrecks NSW Dive Sites Australian Dive Sites Overseas Dive Sites Dive Accidents and Incidents My Yachting Adventures 4WD Trips Weather Search 25 July 2024 09:39

About Me
My Diving
Web Links - Dive Clubs
St George Scuba Club
Some of my Best Photos
Contact Me

Dive Sites
Sydney Reef Dive Sites
Sydney Shipwrecks
Sydney Dive Visibility, Swell and Temps
Kelly Talking on ABC Sydney about Shipwrecks
NSW Dive Sites
Sydney Shipwreck Summary
NSW Shipwreck GPS/Marks
Australian Dive Sites
Overseas Dive Sites
Aircraft I have Dived
Old Bottles
Free Shipwreck Books

Dive Related Equipment
Shearwater Predator and Heinrichs Weikamp OSTC 2N
Uwatec Aladin Dive Computers
Apollo AV1 Underwater Scooter
Bauer Compressor
DIY Oxygen Stick - Nitrox
GoPro HD Hero Video Camera
My Camera Setup
Purchase of New Dive Boat
My Dive Boat - Mak Cat
My Old Dive Boat - Le Scat
My Dive Gear
GPS and Diving
Make Your Own Car Tank Rack

Marine Life
Rarer Sydney Marine Life
Bare Island Pygmy Pipe Horses
Bare Island Sea Horses
Bare Island Nudibranchs
Bare Island Marine Life
Encounter with Southern Right Whale and Calf

Other Dive Info
How Weather Affects Diving in Sydney
Visibility and Wave Averages in Sydney
Waves and Diving
Diving Weather and Sea Conditions
Tide Tables
Dive Accidents and Incidents
Dive Book Reviews
Site Map
Noel Hitchins 1951-2005
Lloyd Bridges - Mike Nelson in Sea Hunt
My Yachting Adventures
Below is a list of links to the main pages about my yacht, Catlypso and My Yachting Adventures:
  • Purchase of Catlypso
  • Details about Catlypso
  • Cleaning/Repairing Catlypso
  • My Yachting Adventures.
  • Login


    Forgotten your password?
    Request a new one here.
    Michael's 4WD Trips
    Click here for a list of my Four Wheel Drive and Camping Trips.
    Home Brewing
    Click here for an article about Home Brewing.
    Sydney Dive Site Hints
    "Clifton Gardens sometimes has anglerfish"
    La Dieppoise (ex-HMCS Chaleur Bay)
    Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - La Dieppoise Famous for being a little bit of France in the South Pacific, New Caledonia gained a reputation over the years for the arrogance and unfriendliness of the French residents. This reputation was well deserved and led to New Caledonia losing a lot of tourism. In my previous two visits to the capital Noumea, the attitude of the French (as opposed to the Kanaks) was, in my considered opinion, not just cold, but quite hostile.

    Bernard Andreani, one of the four partners of Amadee Island Diving, met us at the hotel and transported us in his minibus to the Club Med Wharf only a few minutes away. Here we joined his 11 metre Australian built Cougar Cat, Spanish Dancer, for the 40 minute trip to Amadee Island. Capable of carrying 18 divers, the Spanish Dancer gets along at 20 knots and is very comfortable.

    Amadee Island
    Amadee Island and its lighthouse

    Amadee Island is located at the start of the Havannah-Boulari Passage, a scenic short cut for cruise ships travelling to Vanuatu. The first part of the name of the passage obviously comes from HMS Havannah skippered by Captain John Erskine which passed though the passage in 1849 on its way to Efate in Vanuatu. I am not sure where the second part of the name comes from.

    Only 200 metres by 400 metres in size, the island is famous for its metal lighthouse which was manufactured in Paris in 1862. The foundation stone was laid on 18 January 1865 and the light first shone on 15 November 1865. Bernard's dive shop is on the island near the lighthouse. Once you arrive at the island, you gear up on the wharf before transferring to the 6 metre rubber ducky for a 10 minute run to the outside of the famous Barrier Reef. See Boulari Pass for an article about that dive.

    Amadee IslandAmadee Island
    The spiral starcase inside the Amadee Island LighthouseThe Amadee Island Lighthouse light

    Another dive near Amadee Island is the La Dieppoise, a French Navy minesweeper that was scuttled only a few minutes from the island. The building of the ship started on 8 June 1951 at the Port Arthur Shipbuilding Yards at Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada (their 107th ship). The new ship was a Bay-class minesweeper, 46 metres long and 8.5 metres wide with a displacement of 390 tons. She was built of aluminium and timber with two diesels powering twin props giving a maximum speed of 16 knots. She was to be a minesweeper. Armament was one 40 mm Bofors gun. She was crewed by a total of 38 men.

    On 21 June 1952 the wife of the Chief Technical Officer of the Royal Canadian Navy, Cons-Admiral JG Knowlton launched and named her HMCS Chaleur Bay. She was commissioned on 18 June 1954 but decommissioned only a few months later on 30 September 1954.

    HMCS Chaleur BayHMCS Chaleur Bay
    HMCS Chaleur Bay immediately after being launchedHMCS Chaleur Bay when commissioned
    in the Royal Canadian Navy

    On 13 November 1954 she became La Dieppoise, a French Navy minesweeper, M730. She appears to have served in the seas around France from this time till 18 March 1961 when she underwent a major refit in Brest, France.

    The refit was finished on 26 November 1961 and from early 1962 it appears she moved permanently to the area around Aden and Yemen in the Middle East. On 11 April 1964 she visited the Seychelles and on 13 April 1964 another major refit started, this time in Diego Suarez. This is now called Antsiranana and is at the far northern tip of Madagascar.

    The refit was completed on 14 April 1964. In the coming years she stayed in this area, visiting the north-western corner of the Indian Ocean. From 1 April to 10 August 1968 she again underwent a major refit in Diego Suarez. From 1 July to 25 July 1972 she was prepared for a refit which was to transform her from a minesweeper to a patrol boat. This was also at Diego Suarez and was finished on 1 July 1973. La Dieppoise was now patrol boat P655. She appears to have continued working in the north-west Indian Ocean.

    La DeppoiseLa Deppoise
    La Deppoise in 1980La Deppoise in 1986

    About 20 September 1976 La Dieppoise left for the Pacific Ocean where she was to spend the rest of her years. She travelled via Singapore, Bali, Darwin and Cairns and arrived at Noumea, New Caledonia, on 9 November 1976.

    From here she travelled to Wallis and Futuna Islands and Pago Pago in American Samoa.

    In early 1977 she travelled to Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia, for the elections. After collecting ballot boxes from outlying islands, she returned to Noumea on 8 July 1977.

    On 5 February 1979 she was stranded on a reef near Amadee Island, Noumea. The tug Noumea eventually pulled her off. She was repaired in Noumea later that month.

    La DeppoiseLa Deppoise
    The charges go off to sink La DeppoiseLa Deppoise disappears into the water

    A major refit was carried out from 5 October 1982 till 7 February 1983 in Papeete. In 1983 she travelled to Cairns and on 20 September 1984 she was in Brisbane.

    On 9 July 1987, at the grand old age of 34 years, she was paid off from the French Navy.

    On 19 January 1988 La Dieppoise was sunk as a dive site near Amadee Island, Noumea. Today the vessel sits upright on a 26 metre bottom. The ship, 46 metres long and almost 9 metres wide, has two large props that rest on the sand.

    La Dieppoise is home to many large fish and they follow you as you examine the holds and hatches. Some easy exploration is possible inside the living areas and bridge. Quite unusually, the ship's wheel is still in place, although the wooden handles are gone, eaten away by borers and worms.

    La DeppoiseLa Deppoise
    The bow of La DeppoisePHOTO TO COMELa Deppoise

    NOTE: Underwater photos scanned 2011 from slides taken in 1993.

    The timber hull is basically intact, but already ravaged by the animals (this was written in 1993), especially above the water line. The rear deck is 22 metres, the front deck 18 metres and the flybridge 15 metres. Soon it is time to finish the dive. As I ascend I see a striped sea snake swim under the other divers and pass into the blue.

    Back on the island we change into dry gear and tour the historic lighthouse before our trip back to Noumea, What a day's diving; sharks, barracudas, manta rays wrecks, sea snakes. I could not have asked for much more.

    The water temperature in October was 23°C and I was comfortable in a short 3mm suit, but most people would probably prefer a full 3mm suit. Visibility on the first dive was 20 metres plus and 10 metres on the second. The water temperature varies from 21°C in late winter to 27°C in late summer.

    Copyright © Michael McFadyen 1990 to 2024
    Non-commercial use of an article or photograph is permitted with appropriate URL reference to this site.
    Dive shops, dive operators, publications and government departments cannot use anything without first seeking and receiving approval from Michael McFadyen.
    This web site has been wholly thought up, designed, constructed and funded for almost 30 years by Michael McFadyen without any help from the Australian Dive Industry.
    Website created 1996!