One of the best dives is the Engine Room. You normally swim out on the surface till you reach the far mooring but you can do by going down earlier and swimming across the hull. In any case, you swim across the hull before seeing a huge pile of
junk. When this salvage work was carried out in 1976 or 1977 by Ian Lockley, he planned to salvage the condensers, electric motors and generators. However, he only removed the hull sections, a lot of minor machinery (mostly pumps) and the starboard condenser. All these items (with the possible exception of the condenser) are piled on the hull near the cut.
The pile of material from the Engine Room
The Engine Room cut looking towards the stern
Once past it you will see a huge hole cut in the hull. You enter the engine room through the eastern-most hole. As you enter the hole and your eyes adjust to the darker space, you will see lots of machinery items. Below you as you enter the room there is a round object, the port condenser. This is enormous.
Looking towards the stern you will see the huge electric motor dwarfing the other things. If one of your group moves towards it you will see that it is probably much bigger than you first thought. If you can get some divers in front of it for a photograph it provides great interest. After a few minutes you can drop below the upper motor and behind where you can see an electrical switchboard. You can also see the propellor shaft coming out the back of the electric motor.
Kelly and guide Charles over the huge condensor in the Engine Room
The enormous starboard electric engine in the Engine Room
After coming back into the main engine room, look down and you will see the top of the other (port) motor. Further on there are two hatches on your left. These lead to the engine control room. It is a bit tight in this area so normally your guide will go in and get one person to follow at a time. Be careful as you pass through the hatch, it is not all that big. You can see where hundreds of divers have hit their tank valves on the hatch side, it has worn a notch in it.
Once inside you will be shown the control room. In here there are a large number of gauges and some controls. The gauges include some you can read, one saying Vaccum and the other Steam Pressure. The Steam Pressure gauge appears to indicate that the ship sank with considerable steam pressure still built up. The controls are levers, with squeeze handles (like old time train track points controls). See the photograph below. Note that these are not as shown in Peter Stone's book The Lady and the President.... I assume that the photo in the book is actually from the SS President Hoover which had machinery built by General Electric rather than Westinghouse.
The gauges and controls
The same place as left, but when she was built Rotated 90 degrees so you can compare
The upper forward telegraph in the control room
There are three telegraphs, two near the gauges and another back towards the hatch. However, I am certain that oour guide on my June 2007 dive said that there are four. If there are, I missed seeing one of them. If you are in a very small group you can spend a couple of minutes looking at the gauges. If there are more, you will need to be pretty quick as you are at a depth of almost 50 metres.
Once you are finished, you go up a metre or two and then back behind you (if you were facing the gauges). Here you enter the false funnel. This was originally the exhaust vent for the engine room. You can swim right along this and exit out the rear funnel. This is what you will do if one or more of your group is low on air as it is a very long swim back to the deco stop.
As you near the outside, The Lady used to be seen on your right. There are many ways to complete this dive and it will depend on your guide (and which company you are diving with) as to which way you will go.
One way is to go up to C Deck and then go through a hatchway which is up and to your right. This was most probably a door to the engineer's elevator and it comes out in a passageway near the Doctor's Room. Around here there is a brass or copper plaque from the engine that has a huge W on it and proclaims "Westinghouse - xxx". Heading along this passway a bit you come to the well over the First Class Dining Room. There is a sign here that says "Dining Saloon". If you look up and back to your right you will see The Lady.
The Westinghouse plaque from the engine room
The Dining Saloon sign This was at the top of the stairs that provided the main access into the dining room
We then dropped to the floor of the main section of the dining room and went past the ornate ceiling lights and out the lower door. From here we went up and through The Lobby to A Deck and then along the remains of the accommodation areas. We then went up a level to the Promenade Deck and out the Bridge area and ascended to 12 metres as we went back to the deco area. You could also ascend from the dining room door and exit out Euart's Door.
One of the Dining Room Lights
A closeup of one of the Dining Room Lights
A video I made in 1995 (re-edited from the early digital copy - hence poor quality) of our dive to the Engine Room.