SS Empire Seaman

  • Nationality: British
  • Built: 1922
  • Type: Steamship
  • Tonnage:1927 tons
  • Purpose: Cargo
  • Length: 87.5m
  • Beam: 12.6m
  • Date Sunk: 30th June 1940

SS Empire Seaman

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

Built as the SS Morea for Hamburg-Amerika Linie (Deutsche Levante Linie), Hamburg by Schiffs. u. Dockbau Flender A.G., Lübeck in 1922, this German steel steamship was captured by the HMS Hasty west of Cape Finisterre on 12th February 1940, while trying to reach Germany from Vigo. The vessel was taken as a prize by Ministry of Shipping (R. W. Jones & Co., mgrs.), London and was renamed the SS Empire Seaman. Purchased by the Admiralty the vessel was sunk as a blockship in East Weddel Sound on 30th June 1940.


Although the SS Empire Seaman was extensively salvaged in the 1940s, which resulted in the removal of the superstructure, bow and stern, there is still plenty of machinery around the wreckage. The site is easily accessible from Barrier and has a number of swim throughs.


Diver Surveys

The wreck lies on rocky bottom in about 6m of water is oriented east to west with the stern to the west. Several large sections of wreckage are visible above the water at low tide. To the stern divers can swim through the propeller shaft tunnel where the propeller shaft and a bench can be seen. Outwith the visible intact structure, several section of mast, a valve and cylinder and some pipework can be seen in the debris. There are several steel wire hawses to the east of the wreck. Wires such as these would have been used to tether the blockships during the war.


Side Scan Data

The site was not side scanned as most of the remains sit above the water at all states of the tide.


Back to Scapa Flow 2013 Marine Archaeology Survey Project