The steel steamship Moray was launched from the yard of Grangemouth Dockyard Co Ltd (Yard No. 116) on 20th June 1889. She measured 161.7′ x 24.1′ x 10.5′ and her tonnage was 438 gross tons, 259 net tons. She was powered by a triple expansion steam engine by Allen and McClellan, Glasgow delivering 60 registered horse power. She was built for William Adam, a chemical manufacturer of Burghead, who remained her owner until the ship’s loss.
The first sign of the loss of the Moray was when wreckage began to wash ashore at Sandend between Banff and Portsoy on 18th and 19th November 1893. Various items including two steering wheels, both light boxes and some cabin fittings were picked up but the vital clue to the vessel’s identity was a spar with the word ‘Moray’ branded on it. Further conclusive proof was provided when a wooden board with brass maker’s plate of the Moray attached came ashore later.
The Moray had departed Burghead at 11 pm on the 16th bound for Sunderland in ballast under the command of Captain J Macnamara with a crew of eleven men under his command. The ship’s lights were reported close to Sandend the following morning but this was the last she was seen. It was supposed that she had foundered with the loss of all hands close to shore when a violent force 11 storm arose that night.
The mystery of the loss was solved almost one hundred years later when divers in 2000 explored a wreck close to Wick. The wreck had been charted and surveyed in 1985 and tentatively identified as the Freya, a motor vessel lost in January 1959 near Wick. They reported a small old steamship sitting upright with a slight list to port on a seabed of fine sand. The metal of the hull deteriorating clearly indicating that the wreck was a lot older than the relative modern Freya. The decking and superstructure were long gone, collapsed into the inners of the wreck obscuring the engine room and engine. When the divers found and recovered a bell clearly marked ‘Moray’ it could only mean that they had found the long lost steamship. It can only be surmised that the ship was overcome by the terrible weather and perhaps capsized due to her light weight. As the crew were all lost perhaps they had abandoned ship in a boat as the vessel drifted out of control. No bodies were ever recovered. The ship seems to have drifted many miles from her last reported location off Sandend although we cannot be certain this sighting was in fact legitimate.
What can be stated for certain is that the wreck of the Moray lies close to Wick in position 58° 21.562’N, 03° 01.316’W oriented 040/220 degrees. She lies in 71 metres with a least clearance of 67 metres.