SS Persier (50º 17.092 N, 003º 58.119 ’W)

The Belgian steamer Persier (originally built in 1918 as the War Buffalo) came to grief on 11 February 1945. The vessel was 3nm from the Eddystone, travelling as part of a convoy, when a torpedo struck her on the port side. The Persier did not sink immediately and, when she was last seen, sinking by the bow, the propeller was turning. Her route to her resting place in Bigbury Bay, some 10 nm away is a mystery but the vessel eventually grounded on the reef in about 27m depth.

Located midway between Plymouth and Salcombe, the Persier can be dived at any tide, with only a negligible current present. Owned by past members of Plymouth Sound Dive Club after it was found in 1969, the wreck is one of the most popular sites among members and visiting divers. The vessel has collapsed but is pretty much recognisable with big boilers, a substantial engine block, steering gear, a rudder and a gun port. There are winches, masts and much else identifiable. It used to have a big driveshaft tunnel that you could easily swim through but unfortunately winter storms put paid to that. Down at the stern, there are conger eels. Schools of bib and pollack populate the wreck, along with plumose anemone, dead men’s fingers and sea fans. The wreck is teeming with life, and there’s always something new to see even after years of diving there.