Launched by Smith’s Dock Co Ltd, South Bank-on-Tees, Middlesbrough (Yd.No.464) in 1911, the Ospray II was a steel steam trawler of 294.6 gross tons, and registered in Fleetwood, her number was FD 129. The vessels dimensions were 130.0’x23.0’x13.2’, and her triple expansion engine was manufactured by the Shields Engineering and Dry Dock Co., at North Shields.
The Ospray II, with skipper Robert Kelly in charge of his ten crew, was bound for the fishing grounds off the west coast via the Sound of Jura on April 6th, 1935. Another trawler from the same port, the Caldew under skipper Edward Harris, was engaged in fishing operations off the west coast of Kintyre when, for some unexplained reason as the weather was calm and clear at the time, the two fishing boats collided with each other around 8:30am. The Caldew crashed into the Ospray II amidships and tore a huge hole in the side of the vessel. One of the crew of the Ospray II later said that the hole was so big that a stream of coal poured out of it into the sea.
Osprey Dive Slideshow
The Caldew quickly took the Ospray II in tow in an attempt to pull her to the nearest land and beach her but this was nearly ten miles away. The skipper of the Ospray II ordered the boat lowered as a precaution which was just as well because, as the Caldew started to tow the Ospray, it was clear that she was already starting to sink lower in the water. The crew bravely manned the pumps until the water was swirling around their waists but it was obvious that their efforts were in vain. With the fires extinguished and the ship sinking beneath them the crew were forced to jump for their lives and, less than an hour after the collision, the Ospray II sank in 20 fathoms in a position reported at the time to be approximately two miles from the Ballochantuy shore.
The Wreck Today
The wreck of the Ospray II was found by Gus and Ian Newman from the Islay Dive Centre in 1995, and lies in position 55°31.016’N, 005°45.612’W (GPS). The wreck is oriented 330/150 degrees, with stern to the north and lies in general seabed depths of 33-35 metres. Her stern has unfortunately now disintegrated along with much of the superstructure visible in the attached video.
The wreck is now a shadow of its former self, the key elements visible today are the engine, boiler, main trawl winch and the propellor. Sealife on and around the wreck is very colourful, it is normal to see bib, ling, conger as well as lythe. Tides do run over a knot on springs at mid tide, so delayed SMB’s and good surface cover are recommended.