Built for Armement L A Hermans SA of Bruges the Santiago was steel motor vessel launched on 29th August 1953 measuring 247.0′ x 36.0′ x 13.7′ and weighing 1290 gross tons. She was sold to Rainey Enterprises of Belfast in 1966 and renamed Kathar before being sold to the Propeller Shipping Company of Famagusta, her final owners, and registered in Cyprus as MV Apollo.
On the night of September 29th 1971 the ship was en route from Runcorn to Copenhagen with a cargo of 1500 tons of rock salt. The exact details of the loss are unclear but it appears that the captain had strayed from his intended course to the west of Fladda-Chùain on the north west point of Skye. In the darkness the Apollo ran hard aground at full speed on the west side of Fladda-Chùain. The first indication of the grounding to the outside world was the ship’s Mayday message partially picked up by Oban Radio stating the ship was aground in position 57° 40’N, 06° 20’W. In fact this position was incorrect and even when the full content of the message was relayed by the fishing vessel Craigmore to the coastguard the position was still incorrect. The message relayed read “Mayday Apollo ashore south of Trodday Island position latitude 57° 40’N, longitude 06° 26’W.”
A final correction of the position picked up by Stornoway Coastguard who got the position correct broadcasting to the ships rushing to her rescue that she was aground on Fladda-Chùain. Her distress flares were eventually spotted by the crew of the fishing vessel Ulva which arrived on scene at 5.20am and immediately began taking off the crew by inflatable dinghy. Ten crewmen were safely evacuated but, as day dawned and the position of the ship became more obvious, the captain and chief engineer chose to remain aboard. A quick inspection showed that number one hold had been penetrated but otherwise, at this stage, the Apollo was in tact and, with her engine room in tact and dry, it was hoped that she might be refloated under her own power as the tide rose. However, this proved impossible and word was immediately sent for a salvage tug to be dispatched. As the tug Tradesman headed for the wreck site work began to try to seal the hull in Hold Number 1 and, initially, this work proceeded well. However the weather was to defeat their efforts. On the night of 5/6th October a storm swept through the area and by morning the stem was broken and the hull bent and penetrated at various points. The Apollo was doomed. She was abandoned as a total wreck and over the following days and weeks gradually slipped beneath the surface. In the early 1980s the ship’s guard rail still broke surface a low tide but this finally disappeared around this time.
The remaining wreckage of the Apollo lies in the approximate position 57° 44.333’N, 006° 25.913’W and is well broken on a boulder and gravel seabed on the west side of Fladda-Chùain. There are still some substantial pieces of wreckage in around 10 metres of water some 30 metres from the shoreline. The site is very exposed.