We have been adding more wrecks to the Clyde area in recent weeks, concentrating on the outer Firth of Clyde and south of a line between Turnberry and Pladda lighthouses.
With the advent of portable GPS units and more powerful fish finders, the lower Clyde was a focus for divers during the late 80’s and early 90’s. There were a good number of potentially un-dived shipwrecks on the Hydrographic chart in the 40-50 metre range, just waiting to be found and dived. I should note that nitrox and mixed gas diving at this stage was still in its infancy and we were a bit behind both with availability of training facilities and adequate kit configuration. As a result we were diving deep on air which brought with it its own set of challenges, not least our post dive recollections of what we had seen on the dive…….or not seen!
While undertaking further research on the loss of the collier – SS Agba we established that we had mistakenly identified a wreck off Turnberry as the Agba, when it is in fact probably the SS Saint Kearan. Some of you wreck enthusiasts may already know this, but it’s taken some further research in Lloyd’s Register archives to correct the mix up. These records once only available by a visit to Edinburgh or London are now available online and accessible 24/7.
So if we step back to when we were first diving this wreck, what did we know? Well the wreck was lying approximately 5 miles NW of Turnberry, in seabed depths of 54-55 metres, the top of the wreck was around 48-49 metres. The wreck itself was a rear engined steamship, about 160-170’ long, holds either side of a small bridge area and the cargo was coal. The stern section appeared to be damaged, nets were also present. Trawling through our lists at the time, the Agba seemed to fit the bill in terms of size, cargo and a rough location noted as “in Firth of Clyde”.
Fast forward to current day, we now have easy access to records that list another casualty, the steam collier Saint Kearan which was lost 8 miles SE of Pladda lighthouse following a collision with a French troopship in 1940. A further check on the Agba places her south of Ailsa Craig and more over to the Northern Ireland coast in around 90 metres. When comparing pictures of the two vessels they are very similar in design and layout and I guess without some identifying evidence from the wreck, or position from archive information, it’s easy to make a mistake. The story behind the loss of the Saint Kearan can be found here. I’m sure there will be a detailed report on the collision in some archive in London, but for now details are sketchy.
For budding researchers , the Lloyd’s Register Foundation – Heritage and Education Centre is a very useful archive. It holds electronic copy of Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, Lloyd’s Annual Casualty Reports, Lloyd’s Survey reports and ships drawings and other reference materials. Link to this excellent resource can be found here.
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers.