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Deliberately Sunken Ships

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The ocean is tired. It’s throwing back at us what we’re throwing in there.
Frank Lautenberg

We have no marine scrapyard so unwanted ships are re-purposed as an artificial reef

This page is in indexes: Island History, Island Detail

Deliberately Sunken Ships [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

Below: The Frontier, 1994The Bedgellett, 2001The Atlantic Rose, 2006The Portzic, 2008Read More

We tell below the stories of four ships that were deliberately sunk off Jamestown, all of them in (relatively) recent years. All are also now Protected Wrecks.

Swim this wreck! [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

Dive this wreck! [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

Many of these wrecks can be visited. We have included markers to indicate which can be accessed by divers and/or swimmers from St Helena (see right).

Ships that were lost accidentally or due to acts of war can be found on our Lost Ships page.

Map of the island’s main wrecks: Witte Leeuw • Bedgellett • Papanui • Spangereid • Darkdale • Frontier • Atlantic Rose • Portzic [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]
Map of the island’s main wrecks: Witte LeeuwBedgellettPapanuiSpangereidDarkdaleFrontierAtlantic RosePortzic

The Frontier, 1994

Dive this wreck! [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

On Christmas Eve 1991 Dutch Captain Willem Merk arrived at St Helena in his boat ‘Frontier’ (a deep-sea stern trawler) seeking help to repair a burst water pipe. On arrival, however, the vessel was discovered to contain more than £10m-worth of Cannabis resin{2}. Merk was arrested and sentenced to nine years imprisonment in July 1991; his three Dutch companions each got two years.

Merk himself later escaped but not in The Frontier, which was impounded by the Police and, according to a witness, “torn apart” in the operation searching for any more drugs and “totally unnecessarily vandalised”. Afterwards it was of little use as an operational vessel unless expensively re-fitted. And with Merk still alive, nobody seems to have had the will to make a legal purchase of the vessel and re-equip it for use, so it was scuttled just off Lemon Valley on 14th December in 1994.

Frontier Wreck [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

Frontier Wreck [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

The Bedgellett, 2001

Dive this wreck! [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

The Bedgellett, Registration no. SSR 61580, was brought to the island by Dave & Steve Harris for use in salvaging the SS Papanui. It broke away from its mooring several times. Eventually it was decided to sink it as an artificial reef, which was done on 4th Apr 2001 just off Long Ledge at a depth of 8.8-18m.

Wreck of the Bedgellett [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]
Wreck of the Bedgellett{a}

The Atlantic Rose, 2006

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‘Atlantic Rose’ was not this vessel’s original name. In 1984 Horst Timmerick, a trader on the island and (then) owner of the Queen Mary Store, built himself a new boat, Brigitte III{3} to enable him to import large quantities of goods, bringing her to St Helena for the first time in August 1985. With a load capacity of around 91,440Kg, Horst sailed her from Brazil to St Helena on numerous occasions with her hull laden with food, furniture, building materials, cars and other merchandise for the island. However in 1993 Horst got into legal trouble during a trip to Brazil and this reflected back on his status on St Helena. On 19th January 1994 the Governor in Council, under Mr John Perrot as Acting Governor, issued an exclusion order on Horst and his wife, thus banning the couple from St Helena and seizing all their posessions here, including the Brigitte III.

The Brigitte III remained at anchor until 2004 when she was bought by brothers Brian and Cyril Young, converted to an offshore fishing vessel and renamed ‘Atlantic Rose’{4}.

As Atlantic Rose she sucessfully operated on the ‘Seamounts’{5}, bringing back many tonnes of fish for local consumption and export and (together with ‘Portzic’) greatly boosting St Helena’s fishing industry.

In the morning of Sunday 8th April 2006 Sunday it was discovered that the Atlantic Rose had broken her moorings during the night and drifted into Cavalli Cove, near West Rocks (at the western end of James’ Bay.) Divers, sea rescue, Solomon’s staff and the Portzic came to the rescue, together with the crew from the Atlantic Rose, but the vessel had been extensively damaged through being beaten against the rocks for much of the night. A large hole had been made in the bottom part of the bow and a large piece of welding on the starboard side had been opened up. She was also leaking at the stern. Later in the morning she was towed by Solomon’s barges to the crane at the Wharf and the bow was lifted out of the water to prevent her from sinking. This measure, together with extensive pumping, kept her afloat while an assessment was made of the situation.

At that time, the island did not posess a crane powerful enough to lift Atlantic Rose completely out of the water so that repairs could be effected. Various attempts were made to stem the inflow of water but no solution could be found to repairing the damage with the boat still in the water, and the pumps were struggling to keep her afloat. It was therefore decided by the owners to give up the attempts to salvage the Atlantic Rose.

The only remaining option was to sink the vessel at a place where she would not be a hazard to other vessels. As much equipment and fuel as possible was salvaged and at 3.20pm on Tuesday she was towed to the area of the artificial reef{6} at the mouth of Young’s Valley, just west of James’ Bay, and sunk.

For some months the sinking was the subject of some controversy. Could Atlantic Rose have been salvaged? Should she be resurrected? But in the end she was left to lie, where she remains to this day.

In James’ Bay [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]
In James’ Bay

Sinking [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]
Sinking

… [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

Wreck [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]
Wreck

The Portzic, 2008

French-nationals Roger Morice and family had visited St Helena a few times before, but in May 2003 they arrived aboard their vessel ‘Portzic’ and applied for a licence to do offshore fishing{7}. This was granted in September 2003, and Portzic commenced offshore fishing, joined soon after by the ‘Atlantic Rose’. Portzic also helped detect poachers fishing illegally in St Helena’s fishing exclusion zone, reporting these first in 2003 and several times in 2007.

The Portzic was a wooden vessel built in 1965 by Perron & Co of Camaret, France and powered by a Baudouin V8 Engine of 400 horse power. She was capable of travelling at a speed of 10 knots, but her normal speed was only 7 knots. Her statistics were: Gross Tonnage 164; Net Tonnage 100; Registered Length 28m; Breadth 7.58m; Draft 4m; Total Weight 360 tonnes.

In 2004 Roger decided that the need to collect ice from St Helena was inhibiting his fishing because it limited the time he could spend out at the ‘Seamounts’{5}. So he borrowed money from the Bank of St Helena to fit ice-making equipment, secured on Portzic. Then in 2005, and again in 2006, Portzic suffered mechanical problems, requring Roger to increase his bank loan. This, ultimately, led to the loss of Portzic.

In 2007 it became apparent that the price Roger could get for his fish did not cover the much increased prices for marine diesel and his bank loan. In effect he was fishing at a loss. Difficulties obtaining crew compounded the situation, and in late 2007 Roger and his family gave up, handed the keys into Bank of St Helena and left St Helena.

Bank of St Helena attempted to find a buyer for Portzic, but without success. One of the vessel’s issues was that it had a small but steady leak, caused by its age (it had last been extensively refitted in 1999). When the Morice family lived aboard the pumps were permanently running, but with the vessel unattended it became difficult keeping Portzic afloat. With no buyer in sight, it was announced in February 2008 that Portzic would join her long-time fishing competitor the ‘Atlantic Rose’ on the seabed. A number of legal issues relating to ownership of the vessel first had to be resolved but on 10th September 2008 Portzic was scuttled, as planned, off Lemon Valley.

Portzic [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

Portzic [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

Onboard Portzic, 2003 [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

Portzic fishing {1} [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

Portzic for sale [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

Portzic sinking [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

Portzic sinking [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

Portzic sinking [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

Read More

More stories on our page Read articles about St Helena.

Article: “There She Goes!”

Published in the St Helena Herald 13th April 2006{8}

There She Goes! 1 [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

There She Goes! 2 [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

There She Goes! 3 [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

Members of the Disaster Management Committee and other interested Agencies met on Monday afternoon to discuss the repairs that were carried out by the Divers on the Atlantic Rose, which ran aground at Cavallie Cove on the weekend.

The Divers had made some progress, whereby the cracks in the Bow Section of the vessel had been sealed with the use of caulking and marine putty.

This had stopped the inflow of water to this section of the vessel. However, there was still a rather heavy flow of water entering the stern area of the vessel and unfortunately the exact location of the entry point could not be identified. The vessel was therefore kept afloat with the use of a pump, which continuously pumped the intake of water out from the vessel. The Disaster Management Committee concluded that the vessel could not be manned 24 hours continuously with the aid of the pump.

Therefore it was with regret that the Owner of Atlantic Rose Mr Brian Young, decided, given the circumstances, for the vessel to be sunk. It was manned throughout Monday evening and Tuesday morning. Around 3.20pm on Tuesday it was taken near Young’s Valley to be sunk. The Emergency Services and Mr Young would like to express thanks to all those who had offered help and support.

closinghumourimage [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]

Laugh at funny deliberatelysunk humour - LOL [Saint Helena Island Info:Deliberately Sunken Ships]


Credits:

{a} “Into The Blue”, used with permission{8}.



Footnotes:

{1} Roger is the chap with the beard.

{2} Cannabis was then, and still is, treated as a ‘hard’ drug on St Helena, even though it grows wild around the island.

{3} Variously also referred to as ‘Bridgette’, ‘Bridgett’ and ‘Bridget 2’.

{4} There is an old seaman’s superstition that, if you rename a ship, it will sink. Read on and form your own view…

{5} Areas of shallow water offshore from St Helena but within the island’s 200 mile fishing exclusion zone.

{6} To learn more, read the Artificial Reef report (982.9Kb).

{7} A special licence was required as the Morice family were not Saints.

{8} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.



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