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 by Tyne Iron Shipbuilding Co., Newcastle for W. H. Atkinson, North Shields in 1879 the SS Gartmore had several owners. The vessel was sold to the Admiralty in 1914 and was sunk as a blockship in Weddell Sound on the 14th September 1914.
While both the SS Gartmore and the SS Gartshore were owned by Gart SS. Co., Ltd, the SS Gartshore was only sold to the Admiralty in 1915 almost a year after the Gartmore was scuttled. The Stark Shell records indicate that the SS Gartshore was used as a mooring hulk.
The Admiralty document (ADM X96-4) also confirm that the wreck at this site is the Gartmore, supported by the Stark Shell records for the two vessels. Macdonald (1993:120) noted that the remains of the SS Gartshore were at one stage visible at low water with those of the SS Martis and SS Empire Seaman. These remains are no longer visible, which could suggest they have become more broken down since his book was written.
The wreck is easily accessible from the north of shore of Barrier 3 but is often passed over on the way to the more intact remains of the SS Martis and the SS Empire Seaman which are frequently used as training sites. Although the remains are well dispersed, there is still a lot to see.
Lying on a rock and sand bottom the wreckage sits in about 3m – 5m of water. Swimming west off the barrier, divers encountered a large winch gear and section of ladder. Further west, the rudder and one blade of a part buried propeller can be seen. Adjacent to the propeller there is a large section of hull plating which encases the propeller shaft. This lies north south and is comparatively intact. To the south there is a large cargo which, and off to the west of this diver encounter a large intact crankshaft and other hull plating. It is unclear whether this is part of the Gartmore or whether it is part of the Empire Seaman, with varying accounts in different sources (Macdonald 1993:120 c.f. Wood 2008: 128).
Side Scan Data
The site was not side scanned as the remains are too shallow.
- Nationality: British
- Built: 1879
- Type: Steamship
- Tonnage: 1845 tons
- Purpose: Cargo
- Length: 81.8m
- Beam: 10.6m
- Date Sunk: 14th September 1914