RMS Thames

  • Nationality: British 
  • Built: 1890
  • Type: Steamship
  • Tonnage: 5645 tons
  • Purpose: Passenger Ship, Mail Ship, Cargo
  • Length: 133.3m
  • Beam: 15.3m
  • Date Sunk: 7th January 1915

RMS Thames

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 built in 1890 by Robert Napier and Sons, Glasgow for Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, the RMS Thames was originally used as a passenger and mail ship.


She was sold to be scrapped by Forth Shipbreaking Co., Ltd, in 1914, but was subsequently purchased by the Admiralty in 1915 and was scuttled as a blockship in Holm Sound on 7th January 1915.


Diver Surveys

The wreck sits on a sandy bottom in 7m - 12m of water. A very large wreck lying parallel to Churchill Barrier 1 in the middle of Holm Sound, the site is best accessed by boat.


Previous surveys outlined in the UKHO report, suggest that there is very little left of the wreck, with the Undermarine Operations survey completed in 1972 indicating that the "stern is missing", and the Fathoms survey completed in 2010 recording a seabed mound measuring only 35m long by 10m beam. 


Although the wreck is broken down, the surveys completed as part of the Scapa Flow 2013 Marine Archaeology Survey confirm that the remains are more extensive than previously thought. The wreck measures 133m long by 17m beam suggesting that it has broken down within the confines of its original dimensions. The stern is still in situ, although the propeller has been salvaged.


The wreck has numerous well corroded, sections of steel hull plating (some of which have porthole apertures), deck plating and ribs. Some wooden decking can be seen in the stern section, but none of the key machinery (propeller, winches, engine, boilers) are visible, possibly buried under other wreckage. 


There were numerous sections of coiled and linear piping within the debris. The coiled piping is reminiscent of the piping found at the back of refrigeration units and could be evidence of the vessel’s cargo. Two air vent apertures and several broken up sections of the forward mast can be seen in the remains lying to port. This is part of a more extensive area of wreckage off to the east of the wreck.


Side Scan Data

The side scan image shows a broken down wreck that measures 133m long by 17m beam. The wreck stands approximately 5m proud of the seabed at the bow with the midships and stern sections more broken down. The mast section which lies to the east of the wreck near the bow is clearly visible on the side scan image.


Thames - Side Scan


Back to Scapa Flow 2013 Marine Archaeology Survey Project