carmania wreck

Carmania II

The steam trawler Carmania II was returning to Grimsby from Iceland with a cargo of fish during the early hours of 14 February 1929.

The vessel was being swept by tremendous seas in Hoy Sound and was evidently in difficulty. Life-saving crews were launched and fought against the heavy Atlantic. Their mission ended successfully with all of the 12-man crew saved.

The Orcadian - 14 February 1929 - Trawler Wrecked

About 4 a.m. this morning, telephones our Stromness correspondent, people in the Innertown district of Stromness were alarmed to hear a signal on the ships siren, from a vessel evidently in distress in the neighbourhood of the Kirk Rocks. In making investigation they saw a trawler ashore on the inner end of hellya locally known as the Kirk Rocks.

Word was sent to Mr G.L. Thomson, local honorary secretary of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, and the lifeboat immediately left – about 4.30 a.m. Signals were also sent up from the West Lighthouse, Graemsay, and the s.s. Pole Star also joined in making the news known by means of her siren. The Rocket Lifesaving Brigade at once proceeded to the scene at the churchyard. In the darkness and with extremely low tide it was impossible to effect communication with the vessel. At this time she was heading towards Stromness and bumping heavily on the rocks. Both lifeboat and rocket apparatus were powerless to render assistance but stood by.

As daybreak approached and the tide turned, the vessel was swung completely round until she headed seaward. She was swept by tremendous seas. At the time of telephoning Carmania II, had a very heavy list towards the shore. By the aid of a glass the crew could be seen clinging to the wheelhouse of the trawler. There is a very heavy land sea which is sweeping the vessel from stem to stern, and it is feared she may be driven over the ledge shorewards where the water is deeper. Carmania II (Loftis, skipper), which was built in 1907, belongs to the Strand Steam Fishing Coy, Grimsby.

Telephoning later, our Stromness correspondent says:

The whole crew of twelve men have been saved. It was a most gallant piece of work – in fact an epic of the sea. With the upmost difficulty in the boiling surf the lifeboatmen laid down a kedge and swung in as near as possible to the stranded vessel. A line was thrown aboard Carmania II and when opportunity occurred members of the trawler's crew were hauled through the broken water in the breeches buoy. At times the lifeboat was entirely enveloped in the huge breaking seas. By means of the lifeboat seven of the fishermen were thus transferred to the lifeboat. It was impossible to bring the lifeboat alongside the trawler, and with the sea getting momentarily worse, it was considered impossible to take off the remaining five men by this means.

Watching their chance these men one by one jumped into their own small boat. Three of them had safely transferred to the lifeboat when their onw boat broke adrift with the other two men aboard. The lifeboat was skilfully swung between the trawler and the boat. One of the men in the latter, by means of an oar, was successful in heading the boat towards the lifeboat. Thus they got in touch again, and the lifeboat soon had the whole twelve of the crew safely on board, much to the relief of the watchers on shore, not the least anxious of whom was the skippers brother, whose trawler happened to be sheltering in Stromness at the time.

During the operation the steel warp of the lifeboat snapped. That gives some indication of the tremendous buffeting the boat was being subjected to in the Atlantic rollers. As the lifeboat returned to harbour with the rescued men the shipping in port gave the lifeboatmen a rousing reception by blowing ships sirens and the crowd on the piers raised hearty cheers.

The shipwrecked crew were taken care of by Bailie Marwick, local honorary agent of the Shipwrecked Fisherman’s and Mariner’s Society.

  • Nationality: British
  • Date built: 1907
  • Type: Steam trawler
  • Purpose: Fishing
  • Date lost: 14 February 1929
  • Registration: Grimsby