SS Minieh

  • Nationality: British
  • Built: 1876
  • Type: Steamship
  • Tonnage: 2766 tons
  • Purpose: Cargo,Passenger 
  • Length: 108.7m
  • Beam: 11.1m
  • Date Sunk: 27th February 1915.

SS Minieh

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 Alsatia in 1876 by D.&E. Henderson and Co Ltd, Meadowside, Glasgow for Henderson Brothers, Glasgow, the SS Minieh is a British iron steamship. Renamed as the SS Minieh when purchased by Khedivial Mail and SS and Graving Doc Co. Ltd, London in 1901, she was sold to the Admiralty in 1915 and was sunk as a blockship in Kirk Sound on the 27th February 1915.


Historic documents report that she broke her back shortly after the sinking but note that the remains were left in place. A sketch of the blockships in 1915 produced in Admiralty reports accessed at the Public Records Office, Kew, clearly show the fore and aft masts leaning towards each. These records describe the remains as “broken and twisted” and note that the SS Minieh was likely to “break in half” (ADM X96-2).


Diver Surveys

The remains lie on a rocky stone bottom with some mud, particularly at the bottom of the deep tidal scour trench. The bow and stern sit in about 11m of water, while the midships section now sits in the trench in about 18m – 22m of water.

Contrary to the results of the 1972 Undermarine Operations surveys detailed in the UKHO report, which indicate that "the entire hull has been removed", the wreck is still in place and makes a very interesting dive. Lying in the middle of Kirk Sound off the bows of the RMS Thames, the site is best accessed by boat. 


A very large wreck, there is a lot of debris across the site including broken iron plates and ribs. Some of these have buckled or torn, while others seem to have broken along the seams. Several of these have porthole apertures. The remains of stone ballast which would have been used to sink the vessel are well dispersed accorss the site. Several sets of bitts, cleats and a large flanged pipe can be seen in the debris.


To the stern there is a hold hatch and cargo winch. Moving forward, towards the engine room, the valve system can be seen lying off the wreck on the seabed. Piping and associated machinery were observed in the area of the engine room, but the engine was not visible. While it is possible that this has been salvaged, it is also possible that it has been obscured by other wreckage.


While there are numerous sections of wooden decking of varying size across the wreckage, the galley floor has been constructed from metal plating overlaid with bricks.  


Towards the bow there are several sections of the forward mast with deadeyes on the gunnel. The remains in this section stand proud of the seabed and the side railings  can be seen. There is an air vent aperture associated with wooden decking and another cargo winch in this area.


Side Scan Data

The side scan image shows a large wreck in two sections - supporting the observations that the SS Minieh had broken her back over the tidal scour trench. The image indicates that the SS Minieh lies east to west with the bow to the east.


Minieh Side Scan

Back to Scapa Flow 2013 Marine Archaeology Survey Project