On the19th Janvuary 1988, La Dieppoise, the last wooden patrol boat of the Royal Navy; was deliberately sunk in the lagoon near to Noumea. it's present location protected from the winds by Tabou reef.
She was in active duty for 35 years, of which 11 were in New Caledonia.

This "first" in the Royal Naval traditions (French naval boats were usually sunk in deep blue water where they couldn't be recovered) created an artificial reef and in so doing a must for all divers visiting the waters of the French pacific.

The last 10 minutes of the P 665...
After 454,972 nautical miles and 19 tour of duties

Since Port Arthur...

La Dieppoise was built in Port Arthur of Canada, the 21st June 1952. She was later based at Brest in 1961, Diego Suarez in 1972 and in Noumea from 29th June 1976.
She was actively involved in maritime surveillance and various other missions to help the people of the regions.
The patrol ship, after a service of 454,972 nautical miles under the French flag, is now slowly disintegrating in the coral sea, for the greater pleasure of many generations of divers; its name already in divers' log books the world over.

The sinking...

The Marine Commandant gave the order on the 30 December 1987 for the ex-patrol ship "La Dieppoise" to be specifically sunk in the lagoon on the morning of the 12th January 1988.

However, tropical cyclone Anne interfereed with this timing and it was the 19th January that, towed by the "Pivert", la Dieppoise came to rest at its present location.

After evacuation, four last seaman stayed aboard during the final escort and started their preparations for the sinking. One explosive charge at the bow, another on the stern, just sufficient to create a big enough hole in the wood, a few metres square, to send the boat to the depths.
At 9.17am the first explosion sounded, the first plume of smoke, then 30 seconds later, the second.
In 4 minutes, the hull was sticking up high on the port side. At 9.25am, the water had reached the deck. The onlookers were present for slient agony of Patrol Boat P 665.
With the water level climbing, the inscription P. 665 started to disappear... the stern driving down into the water... the level rising to the haweshole. No longer could you see the black numbers identifying La Dieppoise. At 9.30am, one last bubbling froth of white water took the patrol boat to its new final destination.

Photos from "Les Nouvelles calédoniennes"
GPS Position:
22° 29' 10 S" et 166° 26' 40 E

The wreck stands upright, at a depth of 26 metres, to the north of Tabou reef, sheltered from strong winds.

The dive...

After more than 15 years underwater, the wooden hull has completely disintegrated to leave a perfect view into the interior of the ship.
The aluminium structure guarantees it will hold well with the oxydation, for both the pleasure and safety of the divers.

Most of the rooms are now home to a multitude of fish especially at breeding time.
There is a passage in the central gangway from which you can see the tables and chairs of the dining room next door to which is the officer's room
It is also possible to swim through the pilot house, which is more illuminated, and really is a must-do. On the upper deck the signal lights and the card room are easy to find while the captain's chair rests over everything.

Photos : Raoul J. Monthouël ©

It is a beautiful dive with well established coral on the wreck and an abundance of marine animal life. Often seen are small schools of trevelly hunting within the superstructure.
Sea slugs, or nudibranches, are often found with their soft, flexible and beautifully coloured bodies. Also there are many coral trout and occassionally turtles and eagle rays to be seen here.

Photos : Raoul J. Monthouël / Noumea Diving ©