The Agios Minas was a general cargo steamship built in France by Ateliers et Chantiers de la Siene Maritime, and launched in 1940. Her dimensions were 307.5”x43.6’x19.1′, and she had a net registered tonnage of 1395 tons. She had been built and launched under the name Egee, a change of name came in 1964 to Asimi before becoming the Agios Minas in 1967.
The weather on the morning of the 8th September, 1968 was clear and the sea calm. It can only be assumed that the captain of the Liberian registered Agios Minas, en route from Archangel to Sharpness with a cargo of £250,000 worth of timber, made an error in identification of the light at Orsay because, at 6 am that morning a message crackled from the radio at Malin Head: ” Aground Islay Island two miles north of Oversay Light; require tug assistance.”
The tug Cruiser was immediately called out from Greenock and raced to the scene. The Islay lifeboat was also launched to stand by as a precaution. The ship had run straight ashore and was lying with her bows high on the rocks beneath a steep cliff at Cill Cleit north of Frenchman’s Rocks. Later the same day the tug arrived and stood by during the night to attempt to pull her off at high tide the next day. The crews of the three vessels listened anxiously to their radios that night as the shipping forecast ominously predicted that the weather would deteriorate with a southeast gale moving in from the Atlantic. Early the next morning, with the ship gradually listing to port and settling by the stern, sixteen of the crew were taken off by the lifeboat leaving only the captain aboard. An inspection by the Lloyd’s surveyor later that day revealed holes in number 1 and 2 holds and water in 3 and 4. The sea round the ship was already covered in floating timber as some of her deck cargo was washed off by the waves now pounding her. Attempts by the Cruiser to pull her off failed and the captain reluctantly abandoned his ship by the end of the day.
With the ship declared a total loss, work began on salvaging her valuable cargo. This work proceeded, on and off as weather allowed, for most of the winter and then work began to dismantle the ship herself for scrap. She had been well stripped before she broke up in a series of gales in the winter of 1969.
The Wreck Today
The remaining wreckage of the Agios Minas lies among deep rocky gullies and on a sloping rocky seabed close to the foot of the cliffs at Cill Cleit in position 55°42.116’N, 006°30.785’W (GPS).
Agios Minas slideshow
The wreckage lies in depths of 17 – 20 metres and although there is a fair amount scattered in the gullies inshore the larger pieces lie deeper, on the rocky slope, with some standing well above the seabed. The site is very exposed and subject to heavy swell from any westerly direction.