The steel steamship Bothal was launched from the Port Glasgow yard of Ferguson Brothers Ltd (Yard No 250) on 18th March 1920. She measured 275.4′ x 41.1′ x 18.1′ and her tonnage was 2109 gross tons, 1223 net tons. She was powered by a triple expansion steam engine by Ferguson Bros delivering 213 net horse power.
She was ordered by the Det Danske Kulkompagni of Copenhagen and, on delivery, commenced her regular voyages between the North Sea and Baltic ports ferrying valuable general cargoes for her owners. With the outbreak of Word War Two these journeys traversing the U-boat patrolled waters between northern Europe and Great Britain became extremely hazardous.
On 20th March 1940 Bothal was en route from Fredrickhaven to Blyth in ballast intending to load a cargo of coal for the return journey to Denmark. She was under the command of Captain Hans Frederik Jensen who had a crew of nineteen men aboard. She was accompanied by a second Danish steamship the Viking also heading to Blyth to load coal. Meanwhile the German U-boat U-19 under the command of Kapitanleutnant Joachim Schepke had departed her home port of Wilhelmshaven on 14th March ordered to patrol the waters west of Denmark.
After two fruitless days U-19 was ordered to a new patrol area off the Moray Firth and had arrived there on the 19th. That day she had successfully attacked and sunk two Danish merchant steamships, Charkow and Minsk on 19th March continuing her sortie looking for more victims. In the early hours of the morning of the 20th Schepke spotted the two merchantmen through his periscope and prepared to attack. At 04.57am he fired a single G7e torpedo which struck Viking close to the engine room causing her to sink quickly with the loss of fifteen of her seventeen crew. At 05.15am a second G7e torpedo slammed into the midships area of Bothal, and she immediately broke into two pieces and sank with the loss of fifteen of her crew including Captain Jensen.
The wreck of Bothal lies in position 58° 27.146’N, 002° 27.848’W oriented 115/295 degrees. She lies in 64 metres with a least depth clearance of 56 metres. The wreck which is partially broken sitting upright was dived and identified by divers from Wick who recovered the vessel’s makers plate.