SS Cape Ortegal

  • Nationality: British
  • Built: 1911
  • Type: Steamship
  • Tonnage: 4896 tons
  • Purpose: Cargo
  • Length: 123m
  • Beam: 16m
  • Date Sunk: 8th September 1939

SS Cape Ortegal

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.


Vessel History

A British steel steamship the SS Cape Ortegal was built for Lyle Shipping Co., Ltd., Glasgow by Russell & Co., Port Glasgow in 1911. She was sold twice in 1936 – first to Heston Shipping Co., Ltd. (J. C. Radcliffe), Glasgow; then to Bantham SS. Co., Ltd. (Evans & Reid), Glasgow. In 1937 she was taken over by Constants (So Wales) Ltd. She was sold to Metal Industries for scrapping in 1939 but was requisitioned by the Admiralty before she was broken up.  She was sunk as a blockship in Skerry Sound on the 8th September 1939, but it is reported that she rolled over and broke up in the first of the winter storms. Cabinet papers for February 1940 (CAB/65/56 in the Public Records Office) indicate that the wreck ‘’rolled off into deep water’’


It has previously been reported (Ferguson 1985: 129, 130 and Macdonald 1993: 119) that the Cape Ortegal was still in position next to the SS Elton. This has been contradicted by the Scapa Flow 2013 Marine Archaeology Survey project as the wreck thought to be the Cape Ortegal does not have the correct number of boilers. The Lloyds list indicated that Cape Ortegal was built with three boilers, while the remains on the seabed only had two. Historic aerial photographs indicate these are from the SS Almeria, which is still the well preserved.


The SS Cape Ortegal was not located during the Scapa Flow 2013 Marine Archaeology Survey project and it is suspected that her remains are actually under Barrier 2. 


Back to Scapa Flow 2013 Marine Archaeology Survey Project