Built at the Calais yard of Compagnie de Fives the iron steam Hopper barge Fives-Lille was launched in 1884. She measured 126.0′ x 23.0′ x 9.7′ Her tonnage was 270 gross tons, 149 net tons. She was powered by a compound steam engine by Cie de Fives delivering 27 net horse power.
During her early career she was renamed Penhoet before being acquired by Marine Contractors Ltd of Southampton who renamed her Wrangler and refitted her for salvage operations. By the start of World War Two she had been purchased by British Iron and Steel (Salvage) Ltd remaining in Southampton as her main base.
The details of the circumstances surrounding her loss are unclear but, presumably during salvage work, in early October 1941, she ran aground north of Peterhead on a shallow rocky reef known locally as Girdle Wears. Soon after she went aground she was refloated and set out, under her own steam, to head to Peterhead for an inspection and any necessary repairs. However, it appears that the damage was worse than initially suspected as she foundered en route soon after she set out. From the position of the wreck it seems likely that the crew abandoned her in a sinking condition and she drifted a couple of miles north east before finally sinking.
The wreck of Wrangler lies in position 57° 32.838’N, 001° 43.187’W oriented 065/245 degrees. Dived and identified by Buchan Divers in 2011 who were able to observe the distinctive features of a salvage vessel. She lies in depths of 47 metres with a least depth clearance of 42 metres sitting upright and fairly in tact although much of the hull plating has disappeared leaving he bare ribs visible. The forward hold contains jumbled scrap metal, the result of the salvage operations she was involved in at the time of her loss. The stern section is broken revealing the stern mounted engine and boiler behind the crumbling bridge area.
We would also like to acknowledge the assistance of Buchan Divers – www.buchandivers.com in the preparation of this article.