The steel motor vessel Meteor was launched from the yard of Jospeh L Meyer, Papenburg in 1966 for her owner Mr J Kahrs of Hamburg. She measured 74.7m x 11.9m x 5.2m and weighed 1359 gross tons. In 1972 she was purchased by Mariechen Tomford and renamed Sloman Barcelona before being purchased by her final owners, P/R Nordhuk of Neustadt in 1975 and named Nordhuk.
She was en route from Gothenburg to Liverpool with a cargo of grain in May 1976 under the command of her skipper H Butelrock with a crew of eleven men. After a perfect crossing of the North Sea and safe negotiation of the tidal waters of the Pentland Firth the crew relaxed for the second half of their voyage down the west coast of Scotland heading for their English destination. Perhaps the excellent weather conditions made the skipper and his mate over confident as the reason for the grounding of the ship is not too clear.
As they rounded Cape Wrath and headed south in the early hours of 2nd May the ship’s automatic pilot was engaged and a course set to take them through the Minch. It can only be deduced that the course set was either incorrectly calculated or that the navigation system was incorrectly set but it was to be a fatal mistake. The skipper went below leaving the mate in charge on the bridge but a few hours later was rudely awakened as the ship slammed onto unseen rocks at full speed in pitch darkness.
The SOS call from the ship was answered immediately and the lifeboat from Stornoway sped south to the scene. As the weather was calm the crew were reasonably safe as they awaited the arrival of the lifeboat but even so, by the time the lifeboat arrived, the decks were awash as water rushed in through a huge thirty foot gash in her side. The ship’s boats were made ready just in case and three other ships who had answered the distress call – the coasters Lancer and Silver Thorn and the Fleetwood trawler Wyre Defence – stood by but were not needed. The rescue went smoothly and the crew were ferried to Stornoway where they were looked after at the British Sailor’s Society Home.
The wreck of the Nordhuk lies in position 57°43.800’N, 006°17.833’W (WGS84) which is off the north east side of the small island of Eilean Trodday. For a few years after her grounding the the superstructure of the ship remained visible above water but by 1980 she had slipped off and disappeared into deeper water. The remaining wreckage is now well broken with stern section deepest and most in tact. Bow section totally demolished and closer in shore in shallower water with most in tact wreckage on rocky seabed at 28 metres.
The site is very exposed, often subject to large swells and swept by strong tidal streams making a dive at slack water the best alternative.