The steel steam fish factory ship Neptunia was launched from the Selby yard of Cochrane and Sons Ltd (Yard No 992) on 16th January 1926. She 175.5′ x 29.1′ x 14.0′ and her tonnage was 619 gross tons, 244 net tons. She was powered by a triple expansion steam engine by D Holmes and Co Ltd., Hull delivering 128 net horse power. She was built for the Societe Havraise de Peche, Le Havre and remained under their ownership until her loss in 1936.
On 21st February 1936 Neptunia was outward bound to the Icelandic fishing grounds under the command of her skipper Emile Friboulet with a crew of forty men aboard. Friboulet was on his final voyage before retiring to take up a new life as a fruit farmer. The Neptunia had loaded her bunkers with coal at North Shields on 15th February before setting out on the long trip to Iceland. As they passed through the Pentland Firth they were enveloped by a thick haze dramatically reducing the visibility. As evening fell the combination of the haze, the lack of daylight and the tidal flows of the area conspired to cause her to run aground on the south west side of the Kippoch Rock (aka. Tails of Brims), Brims Ness, Hoy.
The skipper had clearly lost his bearings as his initial distress message picked up by Wick Radio at 7:35pm, indicated he was ashore on the Caithness coast. The Thurso lifeboat was immediately launched to begin a fruitless search on the south side of the Pentland Firth. Thankfully, the stranding had been observed from the Hoy shore by two local men who were members of the crew of the Longhope lifeboat and who quickly raised the alarm on the island. The local rocket brigade set out by land to reach the site and the lifeboat, Thomas McCunn, skippered by Coxswain William Duff, which was already launched and lying pierside at Longhope due to an earlier call out, was quickly en route to the location of the stranding. The distress message was also picked up by the Fisheries Protection cruiser Norna which also headed to the wreck site.
It is not known if any wreckage from the Neptunia remains at this location.
We would like to thank Lloyd’s Register Foundation – Heritage & Education Centre for allowing us to reproduce documents from their archive in this article.