The steel steamship Grive was launched from the Dundee yard of Caledon Shipbuilding and Engineering Co Ltd (Yard No 179) on 23rd March 1905. She measured 294.1′ x 41.1′ x 17.7′ and her tonnage was 2037 gross tons, 1048 net tons. She was powered by a triple expansion steam engine by Caledon delivering 353 net horse power. She was built for the General Steam Navigation Co Ltd., London and operated for this company until the outbreak of World War One.
In the early months of the conflict she was requisitioned by the Admiralty for service as an armed boarding steamer operating mainly out of her base at Lerwick, Shetland. Her role to stop and search any vessels entering or leaving British waters to ensure that the cargoes and personnel aboard met the strict rules in place in wartime Britain.
On the 8th December 1917, en route from Murmansk, she was off Shetland east of Bard Head under the command of Commander Stephen Alonso Pidgeon RNR at 1:25pm when she was attacked by the German U-boat UC-40 under the command of Kapitanlieutnant Hermann Menzell. Menzell fired a single torpedo which struck Grive close to the stern seriously damaging her, blowing away the stern post and propeller, but thankfully it did not sink her. Menzell later reported he knew that Grive did not sink but was unable to fire a second torpedo due the number of other vessels in the area at the time. The men aboard were taken off the ship before she was taken in tow by two armed trawlers, Sparrow and Stratheyre. They managed to limp into Lerwick harbour where the Grive was beached around 5:20pm that evening. After some temporary repairs which patched up her hull she was deemed sufficiently watertight for her then to be taken to a drydock for a more thorough repair. On 23rd December she departed from Lerwick under tow by the tugs Peewit and La Valette heading south with the armed trawler Saxon acting as escort..
As the three vessels passed the east side of Orkney the weather was poor and Grive was rolling heavily. First Pewitt lost the tow and became separated from the other two vessels then the tow rope fouled the propeller of La Valette forcing her to cast off the tow. At this point it was discovered that water was streaming into hold number four. This area of the hull had not been fully examined as the hold was totally full with timber which had been placed there for the sole purpose of adding buoyancy to the ship in case she had been damaged by torpedo attack. Further inspection revealed that water was also entering hold number three. The influx on water could not be contained and Grive gradually settled into the water. It was clear she would founder so the crew were taken off by the Saxon and, with the men aboard the three vessels watching on, she sank later that same day in a position off North Ronaldsay, Orkney.
The wreck of Grive lies in position 59° 25.199’N, 002° 21.168’W oriented 037/217 degrees. She lies in 55 metres with a least depth clearance of 49 metres. The extensive wreckage including her two massive boilers was positively identified by recovery of the bell by divers in 2010.