The following presents new data collected as part of a recent Historic Scotland funded project – the Scapa Flow 2013 Marine Archaeology Survey – which aimed to assess the extent and condition of some of the sites around Scapa Flow.
Built in 1883 by John Elder & Co., in Glasgow, for New Zealand Shipping Co. Ltd. the Aorangi was a British steel steamship. Sold to the Canadial Australian Royal Mail Line, Melbourne in 1986 before being being tansferred back to the New Zealand Shipping Company in 1897 where she served for 13 years. Sold to the Union Steamship Co. in 1910. She was requisitioned by the Admiralty for use as a blockship in 1915. Scuttled in Kirk Sound on the 10th August 1915 the SS Aorangi was originally placed to abut the stern of SS Numidian. The vessel was re-floated in 1920 when the Sound was reopened and was moved to the current position of the remains. The site can only be accessed by boat but makes and interesting dive.
Although historic photos of the SS Aorangi as a blockship only show her with two masts, earlier images confirm that she originally had three masts. This suggests that the aft mast fell over before or while the ship was used as a blockship.
The Aorangi now lies on a sandy stone bottom in about 12m of water
To the stern, a steering arm, rudder post, and a rope pulley can be seen. Just forward of these, there is a short mast section and a mast step for the missing aft mast.
Midships there are the remains of four single ended Scotch boilers. The centre mast is aft of these boilers and has evidence of pins used for securing ropes at the base. This extends away from the wreck to the south on the port side, and ends in the mast step and crow’s nest with wires.
The engine and propeller shaft are missing, possibly salvage; however, there is a small square donkey boiler in the area of the engine room which would have used to maneuver the vessel while in harbour.
At the bow of the vessel there is a significant about of wooden decking and a large section with stands proud of the seabed. The forward mast appears to have fallen seaward to the port side of the vessel and has a gooseneck attached.
Side Scan Data
The side scan image indicates that the wreck measures 109m long by 14m beam and is oriented northwest to southeast with the bow to the southeast. The four boilers are clearly visible and there is a strong contact which is likely the donkey boilers. The boilers are the highest point of the wreck standing approximately 4m proud of the seabed. It should be noted that the image is slightly distorted by mild chop encountered during the surveys.