Navy undertakes dive to WW II shipwreck of HMS Hermes

In a remarkable dive that highlighted historical reverence, the Diving Unit of the Sri Lanka Navy on 30th June 2024 explored the sunken remains of HMS Hermes, a fascinating and historic World War II shipwreck off Batticaloa. The event, which took place in the eastern seas, was joined by the Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera and former Commander of the Navy, Admiral Piyal De Silva (Retd). During the World War II, HMS Hermes was targeted and ultimately sunk by Japanese aircraft.

During the Second World War, following the Japanese bombing of Colombo on 05th April 1942, the Royal Navy's HMS Hermes and HMAS Vampire, stationed in the South Sea area of Trincomalee, were sunk by aerial attacks on 09th April 1942.

Under the directives of Vice Admiral Priyantha Perera, a seasoned diving expert, the Navy Diving Unit conducted this exploratory diving exercise on the sunken HMS Hermes, located 55 meters below sea level. This initiative aims to further develop the skills of Navy divers. Meanwhile, in tribute to the Commanding Officer and crew of HMS Hermes who perished in the attack, Navy Commanders laid a wreath of poppies and honoured their memory. This diving exercise was historic as it marked the first occasion where both a current and a former Navy Commander simultaneously undertook an exploratory dive around HMS Hermes. It was also the first time they jointly paid tribute to the Royal Navy members who perished when the ship sank.

Numerous historically significant ships and maritime artifacts, including this vessel, are located in and around Trincomalee harbour in the Eastern Sea. The Navy's organized exploratory diving exercises of this nature will greatly enhance diving tourism in the waters surrounding Trincomalee, thereby promoting the island's diving tourism industry.

Photo courtesy: Ghosts of the deep book by Mr. Dharshana Jayawardena