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Tyne and Wear HER(12998): St. Mary's Island, Dolphin (Pandora) - Details

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N Tyneside

St. Mary's Island, Dolphin (Pandora)

St. Mary's Island


Maritime Craft

Naval Support Vessel

Depot Ship




A submarine depot ship of 4580 tons and 330 feet long. She was being towed to Blyth when she foundered in heavy seas on 23rd December 1939. She was sold to Sub Sea Services in 1974 and has been extensively salvaged. N 55 06 05 W 001 27 09 (Collings). Steel, 4,530-ton, 104.2m long, 13.1m beam, 8.2m draught, British submarine depot repair and supply steamship. She was originally built to order by Sir Raylton Dixon & Co. at Cleveland Dockyard, Middlesbrough for James Moss & Co. of Liverpool and launched as the Seti by Miss Hilda Moss 5 July 1902 for their company’s Egyptian trade. She was moulded and built to the British Corporation’s highest class spar rule, had a dead-weight capacity of 3,700 tones, with a main deck of steel and the upper poop-deck, bridge and forecastle-decks of steel, but sheathed with wood. The accommodation for first class passengers was handsomely fitted at the forepart of the bridge, while second class was situated under the aft end of the poop. The saloon framing was of satinwood, with Hungarian ash panels, relived by Maltese crosses with a house-flag in the centre of each panel. Her iron stanchions were covered in satinwood with elaborately carved capitals and Tynecastle panelling on the ceiling, all lighted by a fine-combed skylight. The smoke-room, which was separately designed by Messers Waring & Son of Liverpool, was framed in oak, with carved pilaster parquet flooring, carved grotesque beams and Tynecastle panels on the ceiling in rich relief. The whole vessel had electric lights, electric bells and steam heating throughout. She also had a freshwater condenser, five watertight bulkheads, water ballast all fore and aft and after peaks, direct steam windlasses, five powerful steam-winches and all the very latest improvements for rapid loading & reloading of her cargo. The vessel’s single fine-steel screw was powered by a three-cylinder, triple-expansion steam engine that used three, large, single-ended boilers. On 9 November 1914 she was purchase by the Admiralty and renamed HMS Pandora. Then between 1920 and 1921 she was converted at HM Dockyard at Devonport to a submarine depot repair and supply ship and renamed HMS Dolphine on 3 October 1924. She carried a compliment of 255 crew and a fuel load of 590-tons of coal. Being a rather elderly ship she was decommission and selected as a block ship for the River Clyde to where she was being towed. However she detonated a German-laid mine, foundered and was lost, one and a half miles south-south-east of Blyth on 23 November 1939 (Spokes database records the data as 23rd December). The wreck-site is known to local divers as the Pandora, some still believe that the Dolphin is a separate wreck, but they are infact one and the same! It lies almost north-south on a seabed of sand and stone at a general depth of 18m. She is well broken up and dispersed over a wide area as she was professionally at least twice in the recent past. Except for the engines and boilers, much of the wreck is partially buried with the hull sides going into the seabed, but the bow section is still intact and stands some 6.7m high – A very impressive sight. Grid reference conversion made 18.01.2011 with with Lat/Long referenced as N 55 06 5 W 01 27 17




Peter Collings, 1991, The New Divers Guide to the North-East Coast, page 48; Young, R. (2001) Comprehensive guide to Shipwrecks of the North East Coast (The): Volume Two, Tempus, Gloucestershire. p. 178, Ian T. Spokes Wreck Database, Inga Project; National Monuments Record

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