We have not been able to locate any documented information on the early history for this vessel. We believe that she may have been built and owned in either France or Belgium, was a steel steam drifter of around 91 gross tons and may have been named as Christiane Rose. It is noted in the Navy’s Hydrographic Departments records that she was seized at Southampton on 3 July 1940 and used initially as an examination vessel then converted to an armed patrol vessel. She was based in Oban.
On the morning of Wednesday 10 September 1941 the HM Examination Service drifter Christine Rose left Loch Caolisport shortly before 09:00 hrs where she had been at anchor overnight. A strong north westerly wind was blowing and sea conditions outside the loch were described as rough. As she headed out into the open sea of the Sound of Jura she ran aground on a submerged reef just south of Knap Rock and shortly afterwards rolled off and sank in deep water.
The fifteen crew and scientific staff aboard the drifter had little time to make preparations to abandon ship and were thrown into the sea as the vessel foundered. Fortunately a passing aeroplane witnessed the aftermath and could see men in the water and on a raft. The airmen circled over Ormsary House and dropped messages saying there were sailors in the water offshore, and making for a small island. Two rowing boats were quickly launched from Loch Caolisport and made their way towards the island to search for survivors, which they eventually found ashore at Knap Point. Of the drifter’s crew, ten were safely ashore, and three bodies were recovered and handed over to the crew of HM trawler Wolves which had arrived on scene. Port Asking lifeboat, the relief boat Duke of Connaught, had also been launched at 12:15 and on her arrival she recovered the remaining two bodies. The survivors and bodies of the deceased were taken back to Oban by the Wolves.
Three of the crew are interred in Pennyfuir Cemetery in Oban, and these are her skipper, Richard Griffiths, engineman John McIlhinney and seaman Adolphus Mitchell their graves are under the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
The Wreck Today
The wreck of the Christine Rose lies where she sank in position 55° 53.058’N, 005° 41.461’W (GPS). The exact position is on the south east side of a reef which itself is about 100 metres east/south east of the remains of the beacon on Knap Rock. She lies in 10 – 12 metres on a shingle seabed at the base of the reef. The wreck lies on its port side and is well broken although many of the major features are still visible. The keel is almost totally intact with the stern section, including rudder and prop, the most recognisable. Midships she is well scattered but her engine and boiler are clearly visible. Forward the bow is broken but the single deck gun can still be seen, upside down and half buried in the sand.
The wreckage is overgrown with encrusting sealife and this, combined with the shallow depth and resultant good light make it a pleasant dive. The site is very open to the prevailing wind and therefore subject to swell and is also swept by current, particularly over the shallow top of the reef, at most states of the tide, probably sensible to dive slack water.
The wreck was surveyed in 2013 which noted that the wrecks image when measured was 24 x 5.8 metres with the highest point of 2.3 metres being her boiler.