KendallQ

Kendall McDonald, a former Fleet Street editor, has been diving (and writing about it) for more than 45 years. He has been DIVERs wreck expert since 1960.
WHISKY DOWN TO A DRIBBLE  


Im looking for information on the Politician, which went down in 1941 in the Outer Hebrides and was the basis for the novel and film Whisky Galore!. How deep does she lie, how fast are the currents, what are the conditions like and what are thedifficulties
Derek Morrison.


Its amazing how many people have asked me the same thing over the years. Mr Morrison is no doubt hoping to find a bottle of the hard stuff for himself, like those locals all those years ago immortalised in the film, so here goes: The stern section is all thats left and thats on or in a sandbank off Rosinish Point on the east side of Eriskay in 10m.
Salvage divers moved more than 600 tons of sand by airlift and shifted steel plates galore to find only 24 bottles in 1990 although, of course, many other club divers had been there before them. The salvage divers believe they missed perhaps 1000 bottles as the Atlantic swells have spread the wreck over a wide area.
The sand is now back and seaweed has grown at a colossal rate. The white sand does, however, usually give excellent viz. The difficulties are in getting there and finding an intact bottle.

Where are the Roman remains  


Im fed up with reading about discoveries in the Med and looking at heaps of amphorae in underwater photos. Why cant we find something like that in British waters Surely the Romans must have lost a ship or two in our stormy seas

Pamela Green

I, too, have been puzzled as to why divers havent found Roman wrecks or even their pottery cargo mounds off our coasts, but British divers now look to be on the brink of finding a Roman wreck or two, or even three.
They are at this moment hunting on Pudding Pans and Pan Sands, two shoals some four miles off Whitstable and Herne Bay in Kent. Funny names for sandbanks The oyster dredgermen of north-east Kent have been hauling up glossy red earthenware Samian pottery there since at least the 1600s, and their finds, like those shown below, usually ended up being used for baking pies and puddings.
The first sport diver, to my knowledge, who tried to find the wreck or wrecks which must be the source of all this pottery was Edward G Goldring, who was Borough Engineer of Chelsea and a keen member of Chelsea BSAC in the 1960s.
He found that the Society of Antiquaries in 1800 had got so excited about the Pudding Pans that they had hired their own diver, who found three pieces to add to the 230-plus found by that date. He didnt find the wreck, but the pots were tracked from the potters marks to Lezoux in France in about 160 AD.
Goldring failed to find the wreck, as has Whitstable BSAC since. Now the Centre for Maritime Archaeology and the Southampton Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton have taken up the search.
New research has revealed 170 previously unrecorded trawled-up Samian vessels as well as a complete amphora from the area (containing 6000 olive pits), jugs, jars and a stone anchor.
Pottery brought up so far dates between the first and third centuries AD, mostly from the mid-second century, which might mean as many as three Roman wrecks on the sands. So far the divers have uncovered a mid-1900s wreck, some 19th century wooden barrels, and something that looks horribly like a German V-1 flying bomb!
Treasure hunt in Lyme Bay  
Do you know anything about the treasure ship Miniota, in Lyme Bay Has anyone ever found her
John Jarvis, Aberdeen

Yes to both questions. The 6422 ton Canadian Pacific Railway Ocean Line steamer Miniota was the last ship in a convoy running up the Channel, bound for Portland from Montreal on 31 August, 1917, when she was torpedoed by U-19.
An enormous hole was blown in her side and Captain William Haines ordered the crew to abandon ship at once. The engine room flooded and her boilers exploded, killing two men, but she didnt sink at once.
She was reboarded by crew-members and taken in tow, but after an hour went down by the head.
According to most reports of the time Miniota was carrying munitions and general cargo. There was no mention of lost treasure, just a note that thousands of shells for Allied artillery in France had been lost.
Years later, famous salvage company Risdon Beazley included Miniota in a hit-list of ships it hoped to find. It detailed among the cargo 50 tons of aluminium, 200 tons of brass, and 108,253 ounces - just over three tons - of silver. It never reported finding the wreck, but sport divers did, and a number have dived on it. Its at 50 03.42N; 02 29.15W, but take great care as it is in 70m and is more than 60m to its highest point, the boiler and engine.
A year or two ago a salvage ship was seen over the site for a week, but there was a fatality and no report of any treasure raised.
A diver who has visited Miniota recently tells me he found it collapsed, completely flat, with layer after layer of big artillery shells packed tightly all over. It appeared to have been depth-charged long ago. He also thought that if silver was buried under all those 17-pounder shells, getting at it would take the gilt off any new treasure hunt.
Whoops, wrong ship!  


You told us some months ago that one of the most famous mysteries of the sea had been solved and that South African diver Emlyn Brown had found the Waratah. Now I hear from a friend just back from South Africa that Emlyn Brown hasnt found the wreck. Whos right
Jill Hardy


Your friend is right. Emlyn Brown has just spent a lot of money diving in a hired two-man Delta submersible to 117m to look at the wreck which he had announced as the Waratah from its sonar image and position off the Transkei coast of South Africa.
The Waratah was an 8472 ton luxury liner which disappeared with 211 people on board during the return leg of her maiden voyage to Australia in July 1909.
Describing the Delta dive, Brown says: The weather was good... we were on the bottom in four minutes... viz was about 15m... As we got closer, I saw this enormous wreck, a dark blue outline. It was so beautiful and so quiet that I wanted to open the hatch and climb out and walk around her...
We glided over the debris field... and suddenly there was an Army tank! Then another tank! Then some huge tyres... And I thought: Hey, nobody told me that the Waratah was carrying tanks. And then it hit me: It wasnt the Waratah at all!
What Brown had found was the 420ft, 4962 ton Nailsea Meadow, a British steamer carrying war supplies, including US Honey tanks, to North Africa. She had been sunk on 11 May, 1943, by one torpedo from a bow tube of U-196, which blew a large hole in her port side.
But this is not the end of Emlyn Browns hunt for the Waratah. He tells me he has other dives planned on other sites, one of which he is sure is the missing liner. Ill let you know!
Start counting  
Please can you tell me how many HMS ships went down in Maltas territorial waters during WW11
Generator

Well, I could work it out, but I wont deny you that pleasure. Get yourself a copy of British Vessels Lost At Sea 1939-45 (Patrick Stephens; second edition 1983) and plot the positions given there on your Mediterranean charts.
At a rough count I reckon you have 1503 Naval ships lost in the war to sort out. Then you have to look through 1308 landing craft!