The steel steam trawler Gelsina was launched from the yard of Cook, Welton and Gemmell in Beverley (Yard No.327) on 12th October 1915. She measured 117.0′ x 22.0′ x 12.7′ and her tonnage was 226 gross tons, 109 net tons. She was powered by a triple expansion steam engine by Amos and Smith Ltd., Hull delivering 75 net horse power. Launched for her original owner Walter Olney of Grimsby and registered as GY869 she was never to go to sea as a fishing vessel. She was requisitioned by the Admiralty on her completion in February 1916 and converted to minesweeper FY3258. This included fitting a 3 inch gun on her foredeck.
By June 1917 she was based in Aberdeen, part of a group of minesweepers tasked with keeping the entrances to the harbour clear of German mines. The area was a particular target of the German mine laying U-boats requiring constant clearing of the dozens of mines they laid just off shore. June 1917 saw the minelaying U-boat UC-40 operating off the Aberdeen coastline. Commanded by Oberleutnant Gustav Deuerlich they laid three barrages of three mines north east of Aberdeen on the 19th and returned towards the end of their patrol to lay a further two barrages of five and four mines respectively this time to the south east of Aberdeen. One of these mines was destined to sink Gelsina.
Only hours after the submarine laid her deadly cargo the Gelsina collided with one of the German mines killing five of her crew and sinking her immediately.
The wreck of the Gelsina lies in position 57° 06.522’N, 01° 59.572’W oriented 140/320 degrees. She lies in 57 metres with a least clearance of 52 metres. The wreck was dived by Buchan Divers in 2007 who discovered the small wreck of a steam trawler sitting upright on a flat seabed. Her stern and mid section were in tact but the bow was badly damaged – clearly as a result of the explosion when the vessel collided with the German mine. There had been previous reports from fishing vessels that 3 inch shell cases had been trawled up from the seabed near the wreck and a compass from a Grimsby maker was also recovered. Despite there being no conclusive evidence the wreck is the Gelsina, the configuration, damage to the bow and the location of the wreck which corresponds exactly with the position of the mine barrage laid by UC-40, make it clear that this wreck is the Gelsina.
We would like to acknowledge the assistance of Buchan Divers – www.buchandivers.com in the preparation of this article.