The steel steamship Rein was launched from the yard of Frammes Mek Vaerks in Sandefjord in 1900. She measured 241.2′ x 35.3′ x 14.7′ and her tonnage was 1175 gross tons, 725 net tons. She was powered by a triple expansion steam engine by Akers Mekaniske Verksted A/S, Oslo delivering 111 net horse power. She was built for Aktielselskabit Rein of Kristiana. She operated continuously throughout World War One without serious incident although on 24th April 1917 she was involved in a collision with D/S Hav of Bergen in the North Sea. Both ships were steaming without lights to avoid detection by enemy U-boats. Neither vessel was seriously damaged and both were able to continue their voyages to their respective destinations. In 1924 she was sold to her final owners A/S D/S Rein of Bergen.
On 12th April, 1937 she was en route from Lyngor, Norway to Preston with a cargo of 100 tons of wood pulp. She was under the command of Captain Arne Mayer who had a crew of 15 men operating his ship. As the ship approached the entrance to the treacherous Pentland Firth the weather deteriorated until, at around 2:30am the following morning, with the fog now very thick she ran aground without warning at Helman Head. This headland is some fifteen miles south of her intended route through the Pentland Firth so it is not clear why she should be so far off course.
As it was, the crew found themselves aboard their ship now sitting bow towards the one hundred feet high cliffs with water pouring in through a gash in her hull. The forepart of the ship was jammed on a rocky ledge but the rear of the ship was sloping steeply into the sea and was already almost underwater. Distress flares were fired immediately but it appeared that they were hidden from view by the high cliffs and at first no assistance was offered. Luckily a Wick fishing boat, the Smiling Morn under skipper Alexander Adamson, was setting out from Wick harbour early that morning to head for the fishing grounds and from their vantage point at sea the distress signals were clearly visible. They also noticed a fire at the masthead of the Rein caused by the masthead lamps bursting when the ship hit the rocks. When they reached the scene they approached as close as they could safely and shone their searchlight on the grounded ship but, with jagged rocks breaking the surface on both sides of the Rein, they could not approach close enough to take the crew off.
Captain Meyer managed to launch two ship’s boats but although the night was calm a steady swell swept the site making handling of the boats very difficult. The last man off the Rein had to jump into the sea to be hauled aboard the lifeboat but thankfully all of the crew reached the Smiling Morn safely. Salvage teams arrived at the scene the following day and reported that the ship had already broken its back. Some attempts were made to save part of the cargo but again the dangerous rocks made work on the ship very hazardous. Two weeks later she was declared a total loss and abandoned.
The wreck of the Rein lies in off Helman Head and is well broken over a wide area. The wreck is almost entirely flattened by the continual effects of the swell at the site but large pieces of wreckage including the boilers, propeller and crankshaft are still visible.