On a freezing cold windswept afternoon on the 10th February 1944, if you would have been standing along the seashore of Seyðisfjördur one of Iceland’s most picturesque fjords along the East Coast you would have witnessed something quite extraordinary occurring.
Looking to the mountain tops to the East you would have seen hurtling towards the harbour Three German Focke-Wulf Condor long range bombers which had flown over 1000 miles from Norway, heavily armed and with their pre-planned target in sight. Their target was the British Oil tanker & Merchant vessel the SS El Grillo that had been stationed in the harbour over the winter period supplying the Allied forces with fuel to stave off the ferocious Icelandic winter cold. The bombers closed in and succeeded in striking the ship which sustained catastrophic damages rendering her unable to stay afloat or retaliate with her own armaments consisting of anti aircraft guns. With no choice left the Captain issued an abandon ship order and scuttled the ship to permanently disable her and prevent it from drawing any more fire from the German Luftwaffe Airforce. El Grillo sank to its watery grave in little more than a few hours and now sites upright on the seabed at a depth range of 22m-45m.
The ship is undoubtably the most impressive and infamous shipwreck in Icelandic waters. Its fast sinking and preservation has meant that everything on the wreck is just as it was 70 years ago when it originally sank. The wreck is fast becoming a new home to some of the largest wolf fish in Icelandic waters and encountering them on a dive here is always a highlight. At over 134m in length the ship offers plenty of exploration and penetration opportunities for wreck divers. The wreck is a 5-10min boat ride from the main town of Seyðisfjördur so on a two-dive per day trip its possible to head back into town for some lunch between dives. The locals in Seyðisfjördur are very proud of the history behind the sinking of the wreck and recognise the importance, so much so that they ended up brewing and naming an Icelandic beer after it. What better way to celebrate a successful dive expedition to this fantastic relic of World War II than with delicious hot food and an ice cold bottle of El Grillo beer afterwards courtesy of Magmadive.