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.
WRECKIES ONLINE DREAM  
I hear talk of the ultimate tool for UK wreck research, a website that will eventually have more than 100,000 ships on it, with full details of their voyages, construction, where lost, when, and all the other details any wreck buff dreams of. Can this be true
Peter Brown


Yes, its true. This wreck-diving-without-getting-wet site was launched at this years International Shipwreck Conference in Plymouth. If you visit www.shipwrecks.uk. com, youll find some pages containing early details of the new site.
But before you get too excited, let me say that when it is in full operation, it wont be free. After all, the final set-up costs have been estimated as heading for£500,000.
Veteran wreck-diver and shipwreck researcher Richard Larn and his wife Bridget are heading this project. They have set up a limited company with a partner specially to handle this database-linked website. It follows naturally from the Larns Lloyds Register Shipwreck Index of the British Isles, and those six volumes will contribute most of the first 45,000 wrecks on the site, which is expected to be online by the end of this year.
The website will show the British Isles with a colour-coded wreck density grid, each cell 10min of latitude by 20min longitude. Users can zoom in on individual wrecks in each grid to access 40 different fields of information
The programme is aimed at major outlets, such as Lloyds, the Salvage Association, National Maritime Museum, Guildhall Library, Imperial War Museum and universities. Newspaper and TV companies have signed up.
Divers, my grandad-was-a-sailor inquirers and anyone with maritime links can also use it, but expect charges of£3 to£5 for two hours access.

Exit the Gladiator  
I am looking for information on a ship called the Gladiator. It was captained by Fred W Young and was arriving home in 1908. Thats about all I know.
Vic Hefford


I hope HMS Gladiator is the ship youre looking for. Her captains name doesnt match, but she sank in 1908 after a collision and turned back for Portsmouth, so perhaps that qualifies as arriving home.
The Gladiator was a 5750 ton, 318ft cruiser of 22 guns, built in 1896. On 25 April, 1908, commanded by Captain W Lumsden, she left Portsmouth to exercise at the Long Sands range.
In the Needles Channel she was overtaken by a north-westerly force 8 gale bringing heavy snow. Out of the awful visibility at 2.30pm came the 11,629 ton American liner St Paul, ramming Gladiator in her starboard side.
The cruisers watertight doors were quickly closed, but as she turned back for Portsmouth, she took on a heavy list. Off Sconce Point and Fort Victoria Pier, she grounded and rolled onto her starboard side. Not realising her port side was high and dry, some of her 250 crew leapt into the sea to swim 250m to shore. Twenty-eight didnt make it.
The wreck was raised in October that year and sold for scrap. Today a lot of steel fittings can still be seen in the shallow water.
Two victims of UC-6  
I have just finished compiling what I can find on the P&O liner Maloja, mined off Dover on 27 February, 1916. The Empress of Fort William came to her assistance but she too was mined and sank. Have you any knowledge of the Empress of Fort William and diving on her
Joyce Banks


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The Maloja is one of the biggest wrecks in Kent waters
You sound as if youre having lots of trouble, though I cant see why. The 12,431 ton Maloja is one of the biggest wrecks in Kent waters, and though it was dispersed at the end of 1964 after salvage by Risdon Beazley, the wreck at 51 04 51; 01 18 18E is still an interesting dive in 21m.
The problem is that it lies in an area much given to sand waves, so youll find it different from month to month and almost day to day. Pieces of the wreck stand up 5m proud of the sand.
A large number of full accounts tell of her sinking after she struck one of 12 mines laid by Oberleutnant Count von Schmettow in UC-6 two miles off Dover. Of those on board, 122 were lost. Try looking in the Guide Dive Kent.
This guide also has the full story of the ill-fated rescue attempt by the 2181 ton Canadian steamer Empress of Fort William, 250ft long with a beam of 43ft, which was carrying 3500 tons of coal from South Shields to Dunkirk. Hearing the first mine explode, her captain, W D Shepherd, set out at full speed for the liner, which was already sinking by the stern. He told his crew to get the boats ready to help.
Half an hour later, he and his 20 crewmen sat in those same boats and watched their own ship go down after striking another mine in the same field.
You will find the Empress a good dive at 51 05 00; 01 17 45E. It is some time since I dived this wreck, but I was surprised to find that it seemed mostly clear of the sand dunes that plague the Maloja. It sits upright in 24m, bows 7m proud and pointing north. The hull is intact, though it has been swept.
Welsh name game  
I dived a wreck that I think was called Glynfynn or Glynfyne. It is off the coast of the Lleyn Peninsula at the southern end of Caernarfon Bay in open water at about 20m, steel-hulled but broken up, though boiler and engine remain, along with some superstructure at the stern. Can you tell me anything about it
Gary Graham


I see that you are struggling with Welsh names. However, I think Glynfynn is not the name of your steamer. Gwynfaen is probably the wreck you dived. It is in the right position at the southern end of Caernavon Bay. This little steamer of 279 tons sank on 10 October, 1904 after striking the Beacon Rock at Porth Dinllaen, on the Lleyn Peninsula. A Force 6 WSW gale finished the job.
The Gwynfaen was built by J Jones & Sons in Liverpool in 1887, was 137ft long, with a beam of 20ft and drew just 9ft. She had a two-cylinder composite engine with one boiler producing 54hp.
At the time of her loss she was carrying a cargo of tarmacadamfrom Port Nant to Birkenhead, two passengers and eight crew. William Owen was captain. For more details of the sinking, you could try the archives of a local newspaper office.

Plumb crazy  

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The popular Persier wreck in Devon - so whos had the bathtub
They say that someone has nicked the iron bathtub from the wreck of the Persier. Is there a mad diving plumber loose among Devon divers

Dont know about diving plumbers, but some Persier regulars do tell me that they couldnt find the tub on their latest dives. It used to be tucked in below the rudder shaft. Perhaps the bath has slipped deeper into this tangle of girders inside the stern section in this photograph.
Unless, of course, someone has declared it to the Receiver of Wreck!

Fate of the Normandy  
Can you tell me anything about the Normandy, a London & South Western Railways steamer sunk on 25 January, 1918 off Cap de la Hague
John Sings


This 618 ton steamer left Southampton at 8.30pm, bound for Cherbourg with 90 tons of general cargo and 3000 bags of Army mail. The Channel crossing went well until 3.50am, when a torpedo from U90 exploded in her port side.
At 3.52 she sank. Only Captain Ernest Woods, five of the crew of 20 and seven of the 20 passengers survived. The wreck is 8 miles NNW of Cherbourg at 49 48.70N; 01 45.33W. I have no diving details.