This vessel was launched as the Amyone from the yard of John Reid & Company at Port Glasgow (Yard No.5) on 26 August 1873. An iron hulled barque rigged sailing ship, her dimensions were 231.1′ x 37.1′ x 23.4’ and weighed 1332gt/1239nt. The Amyone was sold to a German owner in 1889 and re-named Ocean, and again in 1904 to August Troberg of Mariehamn, Russia and remained in his ownership until loss. The vessels official number was 69295.
The Ocean left Dublin on 1st November 1911 bound for Moss, Norway in ballast with a crew of fifteen under the command of Captain A Christopher. She sailed north and into a violent storm and on the 3rd, while off the west coast of Islay, her sails were blown away and she drifted, unmanageable, towards the rocky shore.
Early in the morning of the 4th as dawn broke, two local men, Andrew Stevenson and Donald Ferguson, spotted the stricken vessel drifting off Kilchiaran and followed her as she was swept north, ever closer to the shore.
The crew huddled helplessly in the bow waiting for their ship to strike and hoping for a chance to save themselves. She eventually came ashore, bow first, on a promontory just north of Kilchiaran Bay but, before the crew could jump ashore, the huge seas canted her round forcing the stern towards the rocks. Within a few minutes of striking the second time she broke in two leaving the crew in an even more perilous situation as they expected her to disintegrate at any minute. The brave captain took a rope and swam the short distance to the shore but was sadly killed as the swell smashed him against the rocks. As the wet, freezing crew members considered their situation the stern mast crashed down forming a tenuous link with the shore as it fell onto the nearby rocks. They began to scramble along it pulling themselves towards safety. Two men were swept off the mast and drowned but twelve others made it safely to the shore, five of them helped by the two brave men from Machrie who, by this time, had arrived on the scene and, with the security of a rope to the shore, plunged into the sea to help the remaining crew members. The last crewman, an old man, sat for four hours on the stern hatchway with the waves crashing over him but would not move to save himself. Eventually he disappeared below and was never seen again. By 2pm that day the ship had been smashed to pieces. The floating debris, which filled the many rocky gullies where she went ashore, was left as the only indication that a ship had wrecked there.
The Wreck Today
The wreck of the Ocean lies approximately 900 metres north of Kilchiaran Bay in position 55° 45.657’N, 006° 28.145’W (GPS). Due to its exposed location, few parts of the vessel remain recognisable, key elements remaining include sections of steel mast, winches, anchor and chain and sections of keel and hull. The wreck has been compressed against the face of the rock shelf and barely extends further than 5 metres out to sea. There are a few gullies that run inshore and more wreckage can be found here. The bulk of the wreck lies in 3-5 metres of water, note the seabed shallows outside the wreck, so take care when navigating in the area.
Sections of the masts can be found above waterline lying in rock pools on top of the rocks, these are not visible from sea level, but clearly collapsed and broke off as the vessel was dashed against the rocks after her loss.