Tyne and Wear HER(12994): St. Mary's Island, Spray (Denerby, Firsby) - Details
St. Mary's Island, Spray (Denerby, Firsby)
St. Mary's Island
A British merchantship of 1072 tons, which was mined 3-and-a-half miles north-east of Tynemouth pier. She sank in 40 metres of water. The wreck is in two parts and covers an area of around 350m. N 55 04 03 W 01 18 56 (Collings). Steel, 1,072-ton, 68.58m long, 10.16m beam, 4.31m draught British steamship, registered in Aberdeen. She was built at the Denaby by S.P. Austin & Son at Sunderland in 1891 and owned at the time of loss by Ellis & McHardy. Her single steel propeller was powered by a three-cylinder, triple-expansion steam engine, which employed one boiler. Her machinery was built by J. Dickinson of Sunderland. She had one deck, four watertight bulkheads and a superstructure consisting of an 8.5m poop-deck, 15.2m quarter-deck and a bridge-deck of 13.4m. On 14 April 1917, the Spray was in ballast on passage from Aberdeen for Sunderland, under the command of Captain C.O. Lawrence. At 06:15 she was steaming south at a steady ten knots when a huge explosion rocked the ship near to her stern. Some sources suggest this was a mine exploding! (including Spokes) The aft section of the vessel was totally destroyed and as shattered steel plates a debris filled the air, she immediately began to fill up and go down by the stern. Captain Lawrence gave the order to stop the engine and abandon ship and she went down within twenty-five minutes. A torpedo-boat destroyer arrived shortly after and rescued all of her crew and landed them at North Shields. The wreck lies orientated in a north-east to south-west direction, in a general depth of 46m (Spokes records it as 40m). She is still fairly substantial, but is mostly well broken up, with some superstructure still visible on the North side of the wreck, which stands around 7m high amidships, where her boiler and engine are located. Wreckage is spread over an 86 x 20m area of seabed and lots of copper pipes, brass valves, pieces of broken derrick, anchor, windlass and broken air-ducts can be seen. Her boiler, condenser and engine are both visibly exposed and soft corals have established themselves on the highest structures, while shoals of pout-whiting have adopted the boiler as a haven. Master: C.O. Lawrence Owner: Ellis & McHardy Built: 1891 Builder: S. P. Austin & Son Where Built: Sunderland HP: 136 Boilers: 1 Propulsion: Screw driven, 3 cyinder triple expansion engine Crew: 17 Crew Lost: 0 Two entries given on NMR database 908775 and 1002349 with 2 separate NMR numbers NZ 47 NW 2 and NZ 36 NE 398.
Peter Collings, 1991, The New Divers Guide to the North-East Coast, page 48; Young, R. (2000) Comprehensive guide to Shipwrecks of the North East Coast (The): Volume One (1740 – 1917), Tempus, Gloucestershire. p. 169, Ian T. Spokes Wreck Database;, National Monuments Record (908775); Hydrographic Office wreck index 09-MAR-1993; Dave Shaw and Barry Winfield 1988 Dive north east : a Diver guide Page(s)68; United Kingdom shipwreck index [pre publication typescript]; 1990 Lloyd's war losses, The First World War: Casualties to shipping through enemy causes 1914-1918 Page(s)117; A J Tennent 1990 British merchant ships sunk by U boats in the 1914-1918 war Page(s)84; 1988 British vessels lost at sea 1914-18 and 1939-45 Page(s)43