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Displaying items by tag: Shipwrecks

“Substantial progress” is being made in the recovery of gold bullion from a ship wrecked off Donegal nearly 80 years ago, as RTÉ News reports.

Atlantic Subsea Ventures is involved in the salvage operation at the Empress of Britain, a luxury ocean liner that was requisitioned for the war effort in 1939 and targeted by the Nazis the following year.

A number of such vessels are believed to lie in the depts around Ireland, with one in recent years — the SS Gairsoppa off Galway — giving up a record 48 tonnes of silver bullion seven years ago.

The Empress of Britain, which is believed to hold as much as €500 million in gold bullion, was found in 1995 but its location in deep waters precluded any salvage expedition, until now — thanks to remote-operated technology used in the oil and gas industry.

What’s proving a bigger stumbling block for the salvage company, it says, is Ireland’s 7.5% levy on recovered cargo which must also be held for a year and a day before it can be moved on.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

Shipwrecks off the Irish coast are acting as artificial reefs for corals usually found much deeper in the Atlantic.

That’s according to NUI Galway ocean scientist Anthony Grehan, who told the Irish Examiner about his recent surprising find at the wreck of a cargo vessel 160 metres below the surface.

Using the new submersible robot Étáin from the University of Limerick, Grehan and a team on the RV Celtic Explorer found examples of the stony coral species lophelia pertusa, which usually found at depths of 500 metres or more.

And the new discovery suggests that such wrecks may provide the necessary stability for deep-water corals to thrive in shallower waters.

The Irish Examiner has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#Shipwrecks - Heritage Minister Josepha Madigan yesterday (Wednesday 25 April) announced the launch of a new website with an interactive map of the thousands of historic shipwrecks in Irish waters.

The Wreck Viewer has been developed to facilitate free and easy access to the Wreck Inventory of Ireland Database compiled by the National Monuments Service of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. 

The database holds information on over 18,000 known and likely wreck sites both off the Irish coast and in Ireland’s inland waterways

These wrecks span the entirety of maritime travel around and within the island, from prehistoric logboats to medieval trading vessels, warships and ocean liners

Detailed are exact locations for approximately 4,000 of the recorded wrecks. The map also provides summary information on individual wrecks and their history, voyage, cargo, passengers and, if known, the circumstances of their loss. 

Information on the 14,000 wrecks in the database for which locations have yet to be fully confirmed can also be downloaded. Further details of these wrecks will be added to the database as they become available.

The Wreck Viewer complements the department’s Historic Environment Viewer, which provides information on archaeological sites across the country from the Sites and Monuments Record compiled under the National Monuments Acts and from the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.

Speaking on the new Wreck Viewer yesterday, Minister Madigan said: “Of particular interest, in this decade of centenaries, are the stories of those wrecks from the First World War. 

“Over 1,000 ships were lost off the coast of Ireland during that conflict, in effect bringing the Western Front to our shoreline and alerting the Irish people to both the grim realities of war and the scale of the tragic loss of life that took place on land and sea.”

The minister added that it’s hoped the website will “promote a much greater appreciation and awareness of our marine heritage and at the same time provide an essential tool to help the protection of this remarkable resource.”

Published in Coastal Notes
Tagged under

#Archaeology - With yet another stormy weekend comes news that continued coastal erosion on the West Coast has exposed the remains of a shipwreck at Killary Harbour.

According to The Irish Times, the wreck on Tallaghbaun Strand is already known to locals though its origins are as yet unclear.

But archaeologist Michael Gibbons believes it could date from the late medieval period, as wrecks from the Spanish Armada have been identified in the region.

Gibbons has also been researching what appear to be the remains of a late Bronze Age or early Christian monastic site on Kid Island in Broadhaven Bay. The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#Shipwrecks - Two new shipwrecks have been discovered in Connemara in areas known to be used by smugglers in centuries past, as The Irish Times reports.

Currach fisherman John Bhaba Jeaic Ó Conghaíle found the skeletal remains of what's thought to be an 18th-century vessel at Cuan Chaisín in Ceantar na nOileáin.

Elsewhere, Fahy Bay resident Michael Barry located a second wreck, believed to date from the 19th century, near his home on the northwest Connemara coast – inshore from the Spanish Armada wreck Falco Blanco Mediano.

The area is known as the birthplace of sea captain George O'Malley, one of the most notorious smugglers of his day.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#HistoricBoats - A team of scientists aboard the Marine Institute's research vessel Celtic Voyager has revealed detailed images of World War I shipwrecks in the Irish Sea.

The team, led by Dr Ruth Plets of the School of Environmental Sciences at Ulster University, set out to capture the highest resolution acoustic data possible of WWI shipwrecks lost in the Irish Sea, using a new multi-beam system (EM2040) on board the RV Celtic Voyager to get the best data ever acquired over these wrecks.

"We were able to capture the most detailed images of the entirety of the wrecks ever," said Dr Plets. "Some of the wrecks, which are too deep to be dived on, have not been seen in 100 years. So this is the first time we can examine what has happened to them, during sinking and in the intervening 100 years, and try to predict their future preservation state."

Among the shipwrecks surveyed were the SS Chirripo, which sank in 1917 off Black Head in Co Antrim after she struck a mine; the SS Polwell, which was torpedoed in 1918 northeast of Lambay Island; and the RMS Leinster, which sank in 1918 after being torpedoed off Howth Head, killing over over 500 people - the single greatest loss of live in the Irish Sea.

Marine Institute chief executive Dr Peter Heffernan welcomed the achievements of the survey, supported by the competitive ship-time programme, saying: "The multidisciplinary team is making an important contribution to understanding and protecting our maritime heritage and to our ability to manage our marine resource wisely."

Explaining how the survey was carried out, Dr Plets added: "We moved away from traditional survey strategies by slowing the vessel right down to allow us to get many more data points over the wreck, with millions of sounding per wreck."

"The detail is amazing as we can see things such as handrails, masts, the hawse pipe – where the anchor was stored – and hatches. Some of the vessels have split into sections, and we can even see details of the internal structure. With the visibility conditions in the Irish Sea, no diver or underwater camera could ever get such a great overview of these wrecks."

As well as acoustic imaging, the team collected samples from around the wreck to see what its potential impact is on the seabed ecology. Sediment samples were also taken for chemical analysis to determine if these wrecks cause a concern for pollution.

The project is carried out to coincide with WWI centenary commemorations, noted Dr Plets. "We often forget the battles that were fought in our seas; more emphasis is put on the battles that went on in the trenches. However, at least 2,000 Irishmen lost their lives at sea, but unlike on land, there is no tangible monument or place to commemorate because of the location on the bottom of the sea.

"In the Republic of Ireland there is a blanket protection of all wrecks older than 100 years, so all these will become protected over the next few years. To manage and protect these sites for future generations, we need to know their current preservation state and understand the processes that are affecting the sites."

The next step for the team is to use the data collected to create 3D models which can be used for archaeological research, heritage management and dissemination of these otherwise inaccessible sites to the wider public.

"There is so much data, it will take us many months if not years, to work it all up," said Dr Plets. "Some of the wrecks are in a very dynamic environment and we are planning to survey these vessels again next year to see if there is a change, especially after the winter storms. That will give the heritage managers a better idea if any intervention measures need to be taken to protect them.

"These data could well signal a new era in the field of maritime archaeology. We hope it will inspire a new generation of marine scientists, archaeologists and historians to become involved. Above all, we want to make the general public, young and old, aware of the presence of such wrecks, often located only miles off their local beach."

The research survey was supported by the Marine Institute, through its Ship-Time Programme, funded under the Marine Research Sub-Programme by the Government.

The diverse team included maritime archaeologists Rory McNeary from the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment and Kieran Westley from the University of Southampton; geologists Rory Quinn and Ruth Plets, both Ulster University; biologists Annika Clements from Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute and Chris McGonigle from Ulster University; Ulster University marine science student Mekayla Dale; and hydrographer Fabio Sacchetti from the Marine Institute who works on Ireland's national seabed mapping programme INFOMAR, run jointly with the Geological Survey of Ireland.

The team blogged about the seven-day survey at [email protected].

Published in Historic Boats

#Shipwrecks - Mail Online is hosting some astounding photographs of wrecks lost off Malin Head during the World Wars as captured by amateur diving enthusiast Steve Jones.

The Welshman made his way around the final resting places of four military and supply vessels – HMS Audacious, SS Justicia, SS Empire Heritage and SS Laurentic – off the Donegal coast during a recent dive expedition.

The latter of these ships is believe to still hold £6 million (€7.6 million) in gold bars somewhere in or around its ghostly hull, though Jones and his team had no luck finding them.

They did however find the seaweed-blanketed remains of a number of Sherman tanks that were being transported by the SS Empire Hertiage.

The so-called 'lost ships of Malin Head' are just some of the numerous wreck sites off the North Coast that was a strategic route for the Allies during both wars and as such a prime target for torpedo and mine attacks.

Mail Online has more on the story HERE.

Published in Historic Boats

#Documentary - A new radio documentary highlighting the historical significance of the many shipwrecks that dot Ireland's shores will be broadcast tomorrow afternoon Saturday 20 November on RTÉ Radio 1.

'Sunken Treasures' is part of the Documentary on One strand and will be on the airwaves from 2pm tomorrow - but the 40-minute documentary is already available to stream or download from the RTÉ website HERE.

The programme, narrated by Patricia Baker, follows diving expert Eoin McGarry as he descends to the shipwreck of the SS Crescent City off Galley Head in Cork in search of her legendary treasure of silver coins and bars - some of which is still said to lie in the depts of Dhilligh Rock.

McGarry should be familiar to Afloat.ie readers for his wonderful tale of recovering artefacts from the undersea ruins of the Lusitania two years ago.

RTÉ Radio 1 has more on the new documentary HERE.

Published in Diving

#DIVING - The Sub-Aqua Club at NUI Galway and the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology welcomes diving expert Edward Bourke to the NUI Galway campus on 18 October to give a talk on historical wreck diving in Ireland.

The talk will take a look at some of the exploits of wreck and salvage dives in Ireland over the years, exploring the nation of the Irish coast as a hotbed of pioneering subaquatic activity, driven mostly by the recovery of shipborne cannons - not only because of their expense, but also to prevent their falling into the hands of insurgents.

Bourke will give his talk at the Siobhán McKenna Theatre in the Arts Millennium Building at 7pm on Thursday 10 October. The evening will be of interest to local historians and divers alike. And as much of the activity was on the west coast, there is some local maritime interest, too.

Edward Bourke is a microbiologist, maritime historian and diver with Viking Sub Aqua in Dublin for 30 years and has dived in Australia, South Africa, Spain, Croatia, France and UK as well as Ireland. He has published three volumes on Shipwrecks of the Irish Coast, cataloguing some 6,000 wrecks in Irish waters, as well as a book of Irish shipwreck photos and a volume on the wreck of the Tayleur at Lambay Island. A scientist with Diageo, Bourke's most recent publication is a history of Guinness.

Published in Diving
With the Lusitania expedition in the news, Saturday's Irish Times presents a guide to some of Ireland's most interesting diving sites for all levels of experience.
Though Ireland can boast an abundance of shipwreck sites, a number of them are off-limits to anyone but the hardiest expert explorers, while others require a licence from the Department of Hertiage.
But open dives are still plenty, such as the wreck of UC-42 off Roches Point in Cork, which happens to lie in a popular diving range, and the Empire Hertiage, which lies 30km off the coast of Malin Head and is regarded as one of Ireland's best wreck dives.
Among the licenced dives, the HMS Vanguard - which was tragically sunk 19km east of Bray by its sister ship Iron Duke in 1875 - is a top contender, with the summer months providing astounding visibility of the ships 9in guns.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

With the Lusitania expedition in the news, Saturday's Irish Times presents a guide to some of Ireland's most interesting diving sites for all levels of experience.

Though Ireland can boast an abundance of shipwreck sites, a number of them are off-limits to anyone but the hardiest expert explorers, while others require a licence from the Department of Hertiage.

But open dives are still plenty, such as the wreck of UC-42 off Roches Point in Cork, which happens to lie in a popular diving range, and the Empire Hertiage, which lies 30km off the coast of Malin Head and is regarded as one of Ireland's best wreck dives.

Among the licenced dives, the HMS Vanguard - which was tragically sunk 19km east of Bray by its sister ship Iron Duke in 1875 - is a top contender, with the summer months providing astounding visibility of the ship's 9in guns.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Diving
Page 1 of 2

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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