The steel motor tanker Eileen-M was launched from the yard of Waterhuizen Shipbuilders, Netherlands (Yard No 172) on 26th February 1938. She measured 136.5′ x 25.3′ x 10.2′ and her tonnage was 323 gross tons, 134 net tons. She was powered by a 6 cylinder diesel engine by Humboldt Dentmotoren, Koln and owned by Metcalf Motor Coasters Ltd, London.
The graphic accounts in the newspapers of the day of the plight of the seven crewmen aboard the Eileen-M, which ran aground on the Mull of Oa in the early hours of the morning of the 12th January, 1966, focussed on the many different ways that they could have lost their lives. Fortunately they survived but they were faced with an extremely dangerous situation with the ship aground on a treacherous shore, pounded by a huge swell making launching their rubber lifeboat extremely difficult, and sitting aboard a ship with a lethal cargo of highly inflammable oil and diesel fuel which they expected to explode at any time. Even if they could have made it to the shore they could not have climbed the vertical cliffs of the Mull leaving them at the mercy of the biting January winds with death from exposure another possible danger.
The ship, skippered by Irishman Frank McGuichian, had been en route from Ardrossan to Port Ellen and Lochboisdale, when she ran aground on the Mull of Oa as she tried to negotiate the entrance to Port Ellen harbour. The crew eventually were forced to attempt to get ashore as the ship was in danger of slipping back into deeper water or perhaps exploding – they were worried that the grounding of the ship on the rocks might create a spark which would ignite their deadly cargo. They managed to launch their boat safely and everyone clambered aboard but, as they could not find anywhere on the shoreline where they could safely disembark, they were forced to return to their precarious position aboard the Eileen-M. Thankfully their distress calls had been picked up and, less than an hour later, the Port Askaig lifeboat pulled alongside and took them off safely.
The ship was left, with her bow ashore, lying with a forty five degree list to port and awash from the poop deck aft. Although salvage experts were called for, three days after her grounding she was abandoned as a total wreck. She was later heavily salvaged for scrap.
The remaining wreckage of the Eileen-M lies in 10 – 13 metres in position 55° 34.766’N, 006° 17.616’W (GPS) which is at Rubha Dubh na h-Otha. The wreck lies on the east side of a reef with the shallowest section of wreckage at around 8 metres. The only substantial remaining portion appears to be a large section of the hull lying on a rocky seabed among deep kelp. When the authors explored the site the most interesting aspect of the dive was the underwater company of razorbills and guilliemots “flying” past in the clear Islay water. The site, which is subject to a gentle tidal flow, is completely exposed to swell from the south and west