The graceful full rigged sailing ship Clan Mackenzie was built for Thomas Dunlop and Son of Glasgow, owners of the famous Clan Shipping Line and launched from the yard of Robert Duncan and Co Ltd, Port Glasgow on the 30th November 1882. She measured 259.5′ x 38.2′ x 23.1′ and weighed 1684 gross tons, 1597 net tons. She was reported to be the fastest sailing ship in the Clan Line fleet and sailed successfully for them until she was sold for £4500 to Norwegian owners, Karl Sigurd and Martin Bruusgaard of Drammen in 1909 and renamed Majorka.
With the outbreak of the First World War her frequent Transatlantic voyages became more dangerous as German U-boats prowled the shipping lanes off the west coast of Scotland.
It was on one of these Transatlantic voyages, from London to Delaware in ballast to pick up her latest cargo of war goods for Britain, that Majorka was sailing north in the Minch on 14th August, 1917. She hugged the Scottish coastline hoping to make her a more difficult target for any marauding U-boat but this precaution would not save her on this occasion. As she turned west when she was off Cape Wrath the captain did not know that they were sailing straight towards mine barrage 137 laid days earlier by the UE1 class mine laying submarine U-71 under the command of Kapitanleutnant Walter Gude. The area was a favourite site for the German mine laying submarines targeting both cargo ships sailing through the Minch and British warships leaving the base at Scapa Flow and heading for the west coast or the open Atlantic.
The Majorka was rocked by a huge explosion as she collided with one of the German mines and it was immediately obvious that the ship would not survive. Thankfully the crew all managed to take safely to the ship’s boats before she sank beneath the waves.
The broken wreckage of Majorka was discovered in 1998 in position 58° 34.058’N, 005° 13.826’W (WGS84) and identified by the recovery of a ship’s bell inscribed Clan Mackenzie. The wreckage is spread over a wide area and rises only 2 metres from the flat seabed in depths of approximately 50 metres.