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.
A German steel steamship built by Wigham Richardson & Co Newcastle in 1893, as the SS Ramses for Deutsche Dampfs. Ges."Kosmos", Hamburg, the vessel was sold to Continentale Rhederei A.G., Hamburg and renamed SS Reinfeld. On the 18th April 1914, the Reinfeld struck the Almirante Rocks, and beached 2 miles east of Malabat Point, in the Gibraltar Strait. She was refloated, taken to Gibraltar and was bought by salver before being re-sold to be scrapped in the UK. Purchased by the Admiralty the SS Reinfeld was scuttled as a blockship in Skerry Sound on 2nd October 1914.
In March 1920 the Reinfeld was at the center of some controversy relating to the blockships when the wreckage was struck by a small sailing boat piloted by three Orcadians travelling from Burray to Holm (reported in The Orcadian, April 1st 1920 and May 13th 1920). In the middle of Glimps Holm and Lamb Holm the wind suddenly dropped, leaving the sailors at the mercy of the fast tide. When their boat struck the SS Reinfeld, the passengers were thrown into the water and all three drowned. The resulting public outcry demanded that the blockships be removed for safety and navigation (Hewison, 2005: 175). This led to the removal /relocation of some of the blockships such as the SS Aorangi and the SS Numidian.
All that remains of the Reinfeld now are three Scotch boilers and some sections of wreckage to the stern. Lying in deeper water, the site is not easily accessible from the shore and should be dived from a boat.
Shown in the 1915 sketch of the Skerry Sound blockships (ADM X96-3) as being further to the east of the SS Almeria, the SS Reinfeld is not in the same location as the SS Cape Ortegal, SS Teeswood, SS Elton and SS Almeria as indicated by the UKHO records for these vessels.
The 1972 UO surveys indicate that Reinfeld is a “fairly small ship on reef mostly dries, smashed and spread, but mast still standing”. In an aerial photograph of the blockships dated 1938 only two of the WW1 blockships are visible – The SS Almeria which had an upstanding forward mast and which was comparatively well intact, and the stern of the SS Teeswood. The SS Almeria breaks down very quickly after the installation of the WWII blockships, likely due to the altered tidal regime, and by 1940s the mast of the SS Almeria is no longer visible
On this basis, the mast described by the UO survey cannot be from the SS Reinfeld as we know that these remains were already fully subsurface in 1938. The mast described in the UO report is that of the SS Emerald Wings.
Side Scan Data
The side scan image in the gallery shows the boilers as the three strong circular contacts that stand 1m – 2m proud of the seabed. There is a small debris field to the southwest which was not dived. This could include a propeller shaft as indicated by the linear feature on the side scan.
- Nationality: German
- Tonnage: 2634 tons
- Purpose: Cargo
- Length: 103m
- Date Sunk: 2nd October 1914