The wreck of the BOS 400

Dive sites: BOS 400… from the surface

The wreck of the BOS 400
The wreck of the BOS 400

The BOS 400 was a giant floating crane of the Derrick/Lay barge type, used for pipe laying. She was under tow by the Russian tug Tigr when the tow rope snapped in a north easterly gale in June 1994. The 12,000 ton crane, which had now engines of her own (she was a barge) ran aground on the rocks at the southern corner of Maori Bay just outside Hout Bay, home of two other wrecks: the SS Maori and the SS Oakburn. (More on a recent dive we did on the SS Maori can be found here and here.)

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The BOS 400’s back was so badly broken and the seas so rough that salvage was impossible. All 14 crew were airlifted to safety. The crane was outfitted at great expense (worth $70-80 million US dollars) and as many of the fittings as possible were stripped before the vessel was condemned. If you like legalese, here’s a link to the findings in one of the several court cases that pertained to this vessel.

We survey the wreck from Grant's boat
We survey the wreck from Grant’s boat

BOS in fact (as far as I can determine) stands for Bouyges Offshore Services (either that or Board OffShore, a type of crane), but over the years the name of the crane seems to have been transmuted into Boss 400.

Collapsed stern
Collapsed stern

The part of the superstructure that protrudes above the water is incredibly impressive, but can only be seen from the sea or by hikers on the Karbonkelberg above Hout Bay – there are no roads in the vicinity. When we dived this wreck, our skipper Grant carefully drove us all the way around the back of the wreck into the channel against the mountainside. These photos were taken from that vantage point.

Back of the collapsed stern
Back of the collapsed stern
BOS 400 wreckage
BOS 400 wreckage

If you’re interested in visible shipwrecks, check out my ebook Cape Town’s Visible Shipwrecks: A Guide for Explorers!

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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