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No.20 McDermott Derrick Barge

GPS: S 20° 39.106'

         E 116° 26.840'

Location: Eaglehawk Island, Dampier Archipelago

Site depth: 5 metres

Divable conditions: Swell > 1.0 metre

Visibilty: 5-10 metres

Vessel: Self propelled dredging barge

Construction: Steel

Tons: 9280 tons

Vessel length: 122 metres

Wreck event: Scuttled 1989


The No.20 Derrick Barge was owned by Singapore company McDermott SE and registered in Panama. It was built in 1968 as a utility derrick barge and in the late 1980's the No. 20 was contracted for dredging operations by the Dampier Port Authority. In April 1989 the barge was on a mooring off West Lewis Island during Cyclone Orson when it broke is mooring, was grounded nearby and deemed uneconomical for salvage and repair. The 9280 ton barge sits pushed up against Eaglehawk Island on it's northern shore. The wreck is listed as scuttled, whether it was wrecked at Eaglehawk Island or was scuttled there is unsure.

Although shallow at a max depth of around 5 metres, diving around the seaward side of the wreck makes for a most interesting dive, huge sections of hull plating and cable lay scattered over the seafloor as well as large sections of machinery and winching gear, this would lead you to think it was not salvaged before, or towed to Eaglehawk Island. Diving in any swell nearer the hull structure should be avoided due to the unstable nature of the wreck, even in slight swell and good conditions the sound of hull plating flexing and groaning can be deafening and very eerie underwater. Sections of the hull seem penetrable with access to passageways throughout the hull however, openings experience the full effect of the surge and again due to the unstable collapsing nature of the hull penetration would not be advised. Visibility on the site was not bad but not ideal either but due to large industrial size of the underwater wreckage and the huge imposing presence above water, the wreckage made an awesome and very interesting dive.

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