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Sonar Survey Reveals Torpedoed Guinness Ship

11th October 2011
Sonar Survey Reveals Torpedoed Guinness Ship
High Resolution images of a merchant ship which was sunk ninety-four years ago today (October 12th) off the coast of Dublin have been revealed by the INFOMAR (Integrated Mapping For the Sustainable Development of Ireland's Marine Resource) Programme during a mission on the national research vessel the RV Celtic Voyager earlier this year which surveyed the wreck of the first Guinness merchant vessel, the W.M. Barkley.

The detailed seabed images, which include deck features and complex sand wave structures, were recorded by towed sidescan sonar provided by the Moore Marine Group, and give a visual insight into the defensively armed ship that was sunk by a German torpedo in 1917, seven miles east of the Kish Bank off Dublin.

Photo_1_INFOMAR_image_of_W_M_Barkley_from_port_aft

Photos above and below show topographic seafloor images in 3D, showing the partially buried wreck of the W M Barkley lying at a water depth of 56 metres; with deeper scouring around it down to 72 metres (darker colours indicate greater depths). The images were created from sonar data acquired onboard the Marine Institute's research vessel RV Celtic Voyager, during INFOMAR Programme mapping in 2010 and 2011 with data processed by INFOMAR's Fabio Sacchetti (University of Ulster) and Charise McKeon (Geological Survey of Ireland).

W_M_Barkley

In May 2010, during a large scale mapping survey in the Irish Sea by INFOMAR, a national marine study run by the Marine Institute and the Geological Survey of Ireland, identified a seabed feature which, to the trained eye, was discernable as a potential shipwreck lying in the same position recorded on the Admiralty Chart, the EU wreck site and UK Hydrographic Office wreck site directories, as well as a survey conducted in the 1980s as the last known position of the W.M.Barkley.

Viewing the spectacular imagery of the shipwreck Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, said "I am delighted to note the continued excellence of the valuable work being carried out under the INFOMAR project. These images from the deep reveal a unique view of part of Ireland's marine heritage and I am delighted to announce details of INFOMAR''s annual seminar to be held in Galway on November 16 and 17th."

Photo_3_Guinness_Archivist_Eibhlin_Roche_with_model_of_WM_Barkley

Eibhlin Roche - Guinness Archivist, Guinness Storehouse with the model of the W.M. Barkley. Photo: Jason Clarke Photography

Ninety four years ago on the dark night of October 12th 1917 the W.M.Barkley was torpedoed without warning by the German submarine UC-75. Within minutes the ship, which was owned and operated by the Guinness Company of Dublin, broke in two and sank, taking with her to the bottom four men including her Captain and leaving the rest of her crew to face the sea in an open lifeboat. Now, the darkness where the ship has lain in pieces has been disturbed, probed by fingers of sound that are mapping the seabed in incredible details and bringing to light the position of this famous Irish shipwreck.

"As the first Guinness owned ship, the W.M. Barkley played an important role in the story of the transportation of GUINNESS beer overseas," said Eibhlin Roche, Guinness Archivist. The events of the night of 12th October 1917 are very much part of the history of Guinness that is recorded in the Guinness Archive. It is exciting to finally know the exact resting place of the W.M. Barkley."

A scale model of the W.M. Barkley is on display in the Transport Gallery of Guinness Storehouse remembering the lives of the Guinness men who both perished and survived the events of 12th October 1917. These are stories of tragedy and bravery portraying Irish traditional values, and how they were brought to light with the application of cutting-edge technology.

Koen_Verbruggen_Minister_Rabbitte_Dr_Peter_Heffernan_Eibhlin_Roche_and_David_Smith

Koen Verbruggen (GSI), Minister Pat Rabbitte, Dr. Peter Heffernan (CEO, Marine Institute), Eibhlin Roche (Guinness Archivist, Guinness Storehouse) and David Smith (Country Director, Diageo Ireland) Photo: Jason Clarke Photography

 

Published in Marine Science
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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

 

At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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