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 British iron steamship, built in 1882 by Short Brothers Ltd., Pallion (Sunderland) for the United Kingdom SS. Co., Ltd. (Short & Dunn), Cardiff, the SS Teeswood was originally named the SS Britannia. In 1892 the SS Britannia was purchased by the Norwegian company A/S Westwood (Chr. Klaveness, mgrs.), Christiania and was renamed SS Westwood. She was resold to W. Holby in 1907 before being purchased by Constantine & Pickering SS. Co., Middlesbrough, in 1913 where she was renamed SS Teeswood. She was requisitioned by the Admiralty, and was scuttled as a Blockship in Skerry Sound on 19th September 1914.
Historical sources presented in ADM report X96-3 provide conflicting descriptions of the wreck noted in this position. In the drawings of the blockships in the hydrographic record of Skerry Sound (X96-3) – the remains in this location are noted as SS Teeswood; however the descriptions of the wrecks in the same document based on ADM 1-8428-216 mis-assign the names of the wrecks confusing the description of the SS Teeswood with the description of the SS Rosewood.
Surveys completed during the Scapa Flow 2013 Marine Archaeology Survey project can confirm these to be the remains of the SS Teeswood based on the presence of the two cylinder compound engine. If the wreck at this site had been the SS Rosewood we would have expected to find a triple expansion engine.
Although accurate, the descriptions of the SS Teeswood, recorded by the 1972 Undermarine Operations survey note fewer remains than are actually present. In addition to the propeller and visible stern sections inshore, there is a lot of wreckage offshore including a propeller shaft, large sections of hull and ribs and a two cylinder compound engine.
The site is easily accessible from the shore to the north of Barrier 2 and the wreck makes an interesting dive.
The broken down wreck lies on her starboard side on a sand and rock bottom in 1m – 8m of water. Although the stern of the vessel is broken up, the propeller, the rudder shaft and remains of the steering quadrant can be seen. These are in very shallow water and as such parts are visible at low tide. Iron plates and ribs from the stern section cover a large area near shore.
Moving forward, along the starboard side there are more broken down sections of iron hull plating, ribs and associated wreckage. A hawse pipe and portions of piping were noted in the debris. Along the centre line of the vessel the propeller shaft overlays portions of ribs and iron plating confirming the interpretation of the linear feature on the side scan image.
Midships, a two cylinder compound engine is visible lying on its starboard side. This is associated with several valves and pipe- work, and parts of the gear mechanism.
While there is some wreckage forward of the engine room, the boilers are missing. It is possible that these have moved or were salvaged. The wreckage ends abruptly appearing to disappear into the sand.
Side Scan Data
The side scan image indicates that the wreck measures 51m long by 8m beam, supporting the observation that the bow section is missing, likely buried under sand. The remains are oriented north northwest to south southeast with the bow to the south southeast. The propeller shaft is clearly visible overlaying the plates and ribs.