Located in Lake Washington are three YMS minesweepers. Two of these vessels are very much intact. Our team has been using the below deck plans to explore these three vessels over the last several years. These deck plans are for YMS series 135-409.
Please note that these plans should be used only for general reference. The vessels in Lake Washington have been modified following their military use and do not fully match the structural diagrams. Additionally, the two groups conducting penetration dives on the newest minesweeper both experienced partial structural collapse. The latest collapse was quite serious and could easily have been life threatening. Both dives required a zero visibility exit from the vessel.
Penetration dives on the Lake Washington Minesweepers should not be undertaken.
The below files are high resolution PDF files:
This image of the Healys-1 (ex-YMS 416) in Lake Washington. The angle of the tow fish gives both nice shadowing beside the vessel as well as showing some actual structure.
Over the last 10 months Puget Sound Divers has conducted a long series of exploration dives on the shipwreck labeled Minesweeper #3. Evaluation of this vessel began with side scan imagery followed by external survey and documentation. Once complete a series of penetration dives was conducted with most all below deck and superstructure areas explored. Despite the extensive survey clear and definitive identification had not been determined. Our research was presented to David Shirlaw an expert in maritime history and with David’s help our work was sent to historians worldwide.
Side scan image of YMS #3 - Now identified as either YMS 118, 124, or 311.
Dr. William Lafferty of Wright State University was able to confirm the identity of YMS#1 as the former research vessel “Healys #1” (Ex-YMS 416) and narrow the identity of YMS #3 to either YMS 118, 124, or 311. While information does exist in the public domain regarding the fate of some of these vessels the validity of some accounts has not been substantiated.Recently, our work was published in SeaWaves Magazine along with side scan imagery of the YMS 416.
Shaun Gardner and Ben Griner dove on the shipwreck of a YMS class minesweeper sitting upright in 205 feet fresh water in Lake Washington. Our team calls this wreck YMS #3 as it has not been identified at this time. We have been diving this wreck for several months now looking for identifying markings without much luck.
Shaun dropping below deck through floor hatch
Today Shaun and I entered the main deck through a side door exploring both forward and aft. Penetration lines were run by Shaun and secured tightly, low and to the side of our travel. The team entered with two decompression bottles each and I advanced a video and lighting system. The HD cameras have proven very helpful as they are able to see through the silt and percolation far better than the divers. Upon finishing the survey of the main deck visibility remained between 1-2 feet which is expected for wrecks in this lake. Shaun squeezed through a floor hatch to begin exploration of a lower deck. While Shaun was tying in the penetration line a section of steel support collapsed and briefly pinning me over the hatch area and Shaun’s only exit.
Visibility after 8 min of penetration
Not knowing how large the section of ceiling was falling I quickly scrambled and got one leg free and used it to drag my other leg free. Obviously visibility dropped to zero and we ended the dive exiting using touch contact and following the penetration line. The debris fell on part of the penetration line but we easily picked it up again.
Visibility after partial collapse
Despite a less than desirable penetration we had a comfortable and uneventful decompression. Tim Evans and Marc Greenway acted as captain and surface support for this dive.
On Saturday April 19th 2008 Scott Christopher, a Seattle area NAUI Technical Dive Instructor, and “Northwest Grateful Diver” Bob Bailey dove the wreck of the YMS 359. The YMS 359 was a YMS-1 Class Auxiliary Motor Minesweeper : Laid down September 12th, 1942 by Robert Jacob Inc., City Island, NY; Launched April 9th, 1943; Completed August 20th 1943. It was struck from the Naval Register February 7th, 1947. It was then sold January 6th, 1948. The vessel was sunk in the middle of Lake Washington straight out from Carillon Point, Kirkland, WA at a depth of 200 feet.
The ship has the following specifications : Displacement 270 t.; Length 136'; Beam 24' 6"; Draft 8'; Speed 13 kts; Complement 50; Armament one single 3"/50 gun mount; Propulsion two 880 shp General Motors diesel engines, two shafts.
The dive team descended to 190 feet and tied in a primary reel. The ship was located within seconds. The Scott Christopher carefully tied off the primary reel mid-ship and lead the teams exploration toward the bow section. The wreck is in fair condition. There are several side compartments panels that have been removed that will allow easy access for future penetration. This wreck was easy to identify as the military numerical markings are still present on each side of the ship. The Starboard side was explored from mid ship to the bow. The team continued exploration around the bow, surveying the upper portion of the port side of the vessel. The cabin structure is still clearly identifiable.
This wreck is covered with exploration line that was left, either by careless explorers or abandoned due to an emergency that arose. Our dive team operations will plan a future expedition to this site in order to remove this unwanted and potentially deadly hazard. Our goal is to restore this vessel to the original condition in which it sank.
The image below is of the third minesweeper in Lake Washington and currently called YMS #3 by our team as we do not know it’s true identity. The goal of this image was to cast a shadow of the ship not necessarily look at the ship itself.
Note the highly detailed shadow showing that this vessel remains intact and giving an excellent representation of physical structure.
This image is a picture of the YMS 359 located in 200’ fresh water in Lake Washington. The image is taken from the stern and the minimal angle results in the sharp shadow from the bow. This image was taken at 3 knots using a range setting of 600 feet.
Shaun Gardner acted as captain on all these scans. He is getting very good at capturing higher speed, longer range images.
The second image is the original general scan we had some time ago when we mapped that section of the lake. As dives are slowing down on YMS #3 we are going back and picking-up several unknow targets.
For some time we have know about a piece of debris near one of the YMS minesweepers in Lake Washington. Today we finally decided to check it out a little more. The image is a close pass with the Burton Side Scan sonar at a 100’ range. This vessel is approximately 35’ in length and was scuttled. Video of this dive will be posted tomorrow which shows identification markers. These are currently being looked-up and we will post the finding as we get them.
On this dive Shaun Gardner and Ben Griner dove to 203’ to begin the search for this vessel. Upon reaching the bottom it was clear it would be a pain to find. Visibility was poor and the murk layer near the bottom was the same color as the bottom silt layer. The effect was a disorienting search that forced us to use depth gauges and compass for reference rather than the bottom. Shaun did and outstanding job finding the wreck. Had he not planned his search patter prior to the dive we likely would not have hooked the wreck at all and wasted the dive. Shaun swam until he felt we had likely hooked the wreck and then we swam back up the line running into the bow.
The cabin area of this vessel is tight and a bag of weight used to sink this boat is blocking the door just enough to prevent access to the cabin. Additionally, the side door is rusted shut. The accessible areas of this vessel are completely stripped and little of interest remains. Shaun and Ben spent just 22 minutes on the bottom as this dive was conducted without a safety diver. Scott Christopher acted as the captain today and upon hitting the surface he had the dive platform waiting within arms reach. In all a very good dive.
Our team is not the first team to explore this vessel. Some of the early explorers of Lake Washington found themselves on this boat likely due to accidentally dropping on this site rather than the close by burned YMS minesweeper.
This image shows how the target originally looked on sidescan. The fact that it casts a shadow was the tell that the object was too large to be a tree and too long to be a rock. This prompted us to clean up the image later when we were back in the area.
Below is a new image of the third Minesweeper in Lake Washington. This image was taken on a 60’ scan with the tow fish passed directly beside the vessel. You can see the open holds and equipment on deck. The curved shape to the vessel was caused by a speed change and slight angle change of the side scan sonar. In this image we let the wind push us pass the shipwreck without any power from the boat.
This Saturday our team dove on the YMS #3 Minesweeper. The conditions were about perfect for this dive with a calm surface. Ben Griner and Shaun Gardner descended to 200’ and tied the drop line into the wreck. A total of 30 minutes was spent on this shipwreck with exploration priority defined prior to the dive. Despite several dives on this shipwreck identifying markings have yet to be found. The stern deck was explored first with evaluation of one open hold for equipment. A second hold was not explored on this dive due to excessive free floating line. We will plan penetration of this area on a later dive. Using care to work around fishing net draped over the cabin structure and partially blocking a primary entry point the team explored the cabin area as well as some second deck rooms. Several items were noted for future exploration for identifying markers. On this dive examination of several equipment items was a priority. A generator contained several intact metal labels however; we were unable to gain enough information to assist with narrowing the equipment to a specific vessel.
Greg Wilson graciously volunteered to be our safety diver on this dive. On the surface Scott Christopher acted as captain. In all, the dive was successful. Ben experienced as failed dry glove and experienced some flooding but stayed reasonable warm. Total dive time was just shy of 80 minutes and temperature at depth was 42 degrees.
This weekend members of Puget Sound Divers tested a new software package promising to allow for greater sensitivity at higher scan speeds, longer scan ranges, and silted water conditions. Below is a scan of the YMS #3 at distances of 400' and 600' with boat speeds of 4.5 mph. One pass was taken perpendicular and one pass parallel to shipwreck of the Minesweeper YMS #3. This vessel is approximately 135’ long and generally gives an excellent image by side scan sonar.
These images are about what we were expecting.
Yesterday Puget Sound Divers hit the water in an attempt a dive on the shipwreck of Minesweeper YMS #3. After waiting for a wind break and predicted 12 hours of calm the team headed out.
Marc Greenway - waiting for a break in the weather.
Shaun hasn't has his coffee yet. If he only knew how exiciting his day as captain would be.
Unfortunately, surface conditions did not improve in the wind sensitive location of the YMS #3. After hovering over the site for more than an hour the team moved south down the lake to attempt some side scan imaging while waiting for a wind break.
Maybe we should have waited longer!
Several new images were obtained of previously identified potential targets however, attempts to improve imagery and shadowing of YMS #3 was not to be. The images obtained were all of poor quality and do not show the details we were hoping for.
Stay tuned for a series of side scan images to be posted later.
This new mine sweeper titled YMS #3 was initially discovered by Puget Sound Divers in June of 2007. This is truly an amazing find and is the most intact of all the known Minesweepers in Lake Washington. A significant amount of equipment remains on this vessel as does nearly the entire bridge structure and upper decking.
Several opportunities exist for penetration and exploration on this vessel. Last month SCRET announced that they recently independently found this same minesweeper. With on-going exploration now being conducted by two independent teams it is hopeful that the identity of this ship will soon be determined.
This minesweeper is in quite good condition and has been extensively explored by SCRET and identified as the YMS 359 based on the numerical marking still located on the bow of this vessel. Puget Sound Divers currently has just 4 dives on this wreck as it has been primarily exploring the third minesweeper this year.
Sitting at 200’ and offering several penetration opportunities this is certainly a nice wreck to dive. On the aft deck both holds have been cut open for engine removal and scuttling but several equipment items remain and the holds are open enough for easy exploration. The bottom is silty so line should certainly be laid.
This minesweeper has been badly burnt. The entire upper structure is largely missing or has fallen through the decking. Puget Sound Divers has made 7 successful dives on this wreck which sits at 200’. On the most recent dive Ben Griner and Shaun Gardner dove as a team and Marc Greenway and Bob Bailey dove as a team. Marc and Bob spent 20 minutes on the wreck and Ben and Shaun spent 25 minutes. Visibility was unfortunately poor for this dive but most of the wreck was explored. Great care should be exercised when swimming over the decks as it is very easy to swim through or under objects and collapsed decking.
This dive should certainly be done at least once but with two other minesweepers in Lake Washington it is certainly more interesting to dive those.
Click here for more information about the YMS Minesweepers and this photo.