The Sara D (originally the Hellenic Challenger) sunk after a collision and fire in 1985. She reported a fire in her engine room, at which point her crew anchored her before abandoning ship. To compound her problems, she was then struck by the MV Wu Men while still at anchor and subsequently sank.
The Sara D was one of the popular SD-14 design created by the Austin & Pickersgill shipyard in 1966 as a replacement for the Liberty Ships of WWII, which by this point were reaching the end of their service lives. Despite the rise of containerized shipping, the SD-14s remained extremely popular for bulk shipping well into the 21st century. The ships were 14,000 deadweight tons, similar in size to the Liberty Ships, and were popular in part due to their low cost with the original vessels selling for only £915,000. From 211 to 228 ships were built to the SD-14 (Shelter Deck-14) design between 1968 to 1988 depending on the source – A&P licensed the design to a number of other shipyards, including Hellenic Shipyards which built the Sara D as the Hellenic Challenger.
We were fortunate enough to have one of the original designers of the SD-14 ship class diving with us on a trip in early 2011, and he was able to positively identify the Sara D. For more info on the history of the SD-14s, try http://www.marcle.co.uk/sd14.htm
The Sara D now rests peacefully on the sand on her starboard side in 52-57m water. The impact from the collision is clearly visibile on her port side just forward of her prop (now missing). Interestingly, she sank with her rudder hard to port, almost as if she had been trying to turn her stern away from the impending collision, though this doesn’t fit with the reports of her sinking.
She is rarely visited but remains a beautiful dive, with her enormous engine room easily penetrable through the adjoining cargo hold. The wreck is resplendent with fish life and a large marble ray has taken up residence in a hole in the sand around her bow.
|Name:||Sara D (prev Hellenic Challenger)|
|Type:||Greek Bulk Carrier|
|Cargo:||12,000 bags of sugar|
|Tonnage:||15,153 DWT; 8,987 GT|
|Max Speed:||16.5 knots|
|Sinking Date:||Dec 1985|
|Max Depth:||60m to bottom|
|Min Depth:||35m to the top of her port side|
|Orientation:||Resting on her starboard side, bow to North|