The iron steamship Allende was launched from the yard of Palmers and Co Ltd., Newcastle on 7th May 1883. She measured 258.1′ x 36.2′ x 17.3′ and weighed 1644 gross tons, 1069 net tons. She was powered by a two cylinder compound steam engine by Palmers delivering 143 net horsepower. Originally built for Morel Brothers of Cardiff she was purchased by Forest SS Co Ltd., of Cardiff in 1888 and renamed Forest. She operated under this name until 1910 when she was bought by John Ingamannson of Karlshamn, Sweden who again changed her name to Fingal. In 1919 she was purchased by Rederi A/B Sverge-Levanten of Gotehburg who named her Larnaca before she was purchased by her final owners, A/B Maritime (O Orin), Stromstad in 1921 naming her Asta.
The Asta left Methil for Gothenburg with a full cargo of coal on 15th December, 1927. She was under the command of Captain Y E Carlsson and carried a crew of nineteen aboard. Around the same time the British steamship Breslau, owned by James Currie and Co Ltd of Leith, steamed out of Leith harbour with a general cargo destined for Copenhagen. Both ships headed east and passed May Island shortly after. The evening was dark and visibility poor and when they were about 10 miles east of May Island the Breslau ran into the port side Asta towards the stern and cut her to the waterline. Both ships were steaming relatively slowly and, although many aboard the Breslau were not even aware of the collision, the Asta was fatally damaged and quickly began to settle quickly. The captain of the Breslau kept his ship with engines ahead pushing against the doomed Asta to stem the inflow of water and give her crew a better chance of escape. Thankfully the night was calm and the well drilled Swedish crew were easily able to lower two lifeboats and clamber aboard safely before the ship sank by the stern twenty minutes after the initial collision. They were picked up by the Breslau and taken back to Leith.
The wreck in position 56° 10.099’N, 002° 21.637’W (WGS84) is believed to the the Asta. This wreck is 80 x 15 x 6 metres and is lying 130°/310°. Although it is not, as far a we know, absolutely confirmed as the wreck of the Asta the position and dimensions of the wreck make it almost certain that this is the correct identity of the wreck. She lies in 59 metres with a least depth of 53 metres. The wreck is heavily broken, for example the engine room area is open and the engine has fallen to the starboard side and the boiler has also rolled from its original position. Note there is a large net adjacent to the boiler, but heavy gauge.
The gallery below is from a dive made in March 2013. The grainy frame grabs from video give a feel for the conditions on the dive, and unusual from the normally clear conditions found off the Forth estuary.