Brian Nadwidny resides just outside Edmonton in Sherwood Park, Alberta. He started diving in 1980, but it wasn’t until 1989 when he moved to Nova Scotia for a 2 year period, that his fascination with shipwrecks began. He holds a particular fondness for those shipwrecks found in the approaches to Halifax. While most of his diving these days is done off the West Coast of Canada, due to his location long distance travel to dive is a necessity. His dive travels have taken him all over the world, including Scapa Flow, the Shetland Islands and a year in Australia.
Brian retired from the world of the employed in 1989 and since 1996, most of his diving has been of the “technical” variety. His interest in underwater videography began in 1998 and he enjoys the challenges of imaging deep shipwrecks. He was recently cave certified and looks forward to capturing images of that realm in the future.Brian is a current NAUI instructor and has held instructor ratings from SSI and IANTD. He has been published in Diver Magazine and is currently on the Board of the Alberta Underwater Council.
In Search of Nova Scotia Shipwrecks
In 2002 and 2003, Brian was involved in organizing expeditions of Alberta technical divers to dive and search for shipwrecks off the coast of Nova Scotia, near the approaches of Halifax. The logistics of setting up a totally self-sustained trip such as this involved a great deal of planning and organization (and money). Each diver involved was required to move 600 -700 pounds of personal gear 5000 kilometers. Additionally, team items such as a compressor and Haskel booster also needed to be shipped. Large amounts of helium and oxygen had to be stockpiled, accommodations arranged and boats chartered. In the end, this proved well worth the effort, as the 2003 expedition led to the discovery of the Athelviking.
On January 14, 1945, U1232 under the command of Kapitän zur See Kurt Dobratz, was lurking perilously close to Halifax. On this day, the U1232 managed to sink 3 merchant ships and narrowly missed a Royal Canadian Navy escort vessel with its 4th shot. Despite being within sight of the mainland and only 20 miles from Halifax itself, the U1232 escaped and eventually her captain became the last Commanding Admiral of the U-boats.
Brian’s presentation will focus on two casualties of this remarkable day, the tanker British Freedom, and molasses carrier Athelviking. The highlight of the trip was undoubtedly the discovery of the Athelviking, sitting since 1945 upright in 310′ of water. She has remained undisturbed since the 1970’s, when navy divers conducted a few exploratory dives. Other wrecks explored were also WW2 casualties; the Kolkhoznik (sank in 1942) and the Kaaparen (1942). The presentation will also discuss the trials, tribulations (and politics) of diving far from one’s home base.