The story of the loss of the motor vessel Nyon is routine – the story of the salvage and recovery of the ship is not.
The Nyon was built for the Suisse Atlantique Societe de Navigation Maritime in Lusanne and delivered to her owners on 17th October, 1952. She was a large cargo vessel at 4956 gross tons and 447.2′ long. Four years later she was sold to the Helica Steamship Company of Geneva and it was on a voyage for these owners from Leith to Dakar in ballast that she was to run aground in fog between Petticoe Wick and Fast Castle on the Scottish east coast on 15th November, 1958. The ship ran aground in calm weather and although the local breeches buoy team rushed to the scene it was clear that there was no danger to the ships thirty three crewmen and the apparatus was dismantled and removed.
Initially cement was taken on board from the Eyemouth fishing boat Emulate and the crew began to attempt to fix the holes in the ship’s hull by packing them with the cement. More than seven tons of cement were shipped aboard over the next two days as the crew worked hard to save the ship. Tugs were summoned to the scene and soon the Tyneside tugs George V and Beamish were standing by hoping for an opportunity to pull her off the rocks at high tide once the holes has been plugged. Two more tugs, Simson and Hector, later arrived on the scene and also stood by. The plan was to pull her off the rocks and then put her ashore on a sandy beach to effect more robust repairs before finally refloating her to be towed away. A full inspection on November 18th revealed that she was holed in holds 1 and 2 but that her machinery and propeller were undamaged. Later that day the tugs attached lines to the Nyon but did not attempt to pull her off as water was still penetrating through the temporary repairs. The vessel was steadily working on the rocks in the swell making it impossible for the cement to set and seal holes in the hull.
Two days later, and with the ship continuing to grind on the rocks the possibility of cutting the ship in two pieces and at least saving the stern section was raised for the first time and on 21st preparations began to proceed with this plan. By November 24th the operation to cut the ship in two was well underway but the final separation of the stern section proved difficult as the ship began to break up in increasingly heavy swells . Small explosive charges were used to move the job along until, on the 27th the stern section was finally floated free by the tugs and towed south to the Tyne where it was moored at Smith Dockyard to await recovery operations. The forepart of the ship remained where she had gone aground until, in early December, it broke up and disappeared in winter storms.
The story of the Nyon is complete when the stern section was finally joined to a new bow section by Blones Shipyard, Zuid Holland and the ship re-entered service. Unfortunately this second career was to be a short one when the Nyon was lost after a collision in fog with the Indian cargo ship Jalazad in the English Channel sinking within fifteen minutes. Thankfully her crew of thirty two escaped in the ship’s boats and were picked up by the Jalazad.
Some scattered wreckage of the bow section still remains in shallow water in approximate position 55°55.997’N, 002°13.093’W and some pieces can be seen on the shoreline particularly at low tide.