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.
STRIPPED PRINCESS  
Can you give me any details of the Princess Ena, sunk off the north-west Minquiers reefs in about 1952, GPS marks, etc
Thomas, Jersey


Yes, though youre way out with the date. The 1198 ton, 250ft-long Princess Ena sank on 6 August, 1935, after a fire started on 3 August, while she was on her way from Jersey to St Malo with only her officers and crew aboard.
Fortunately, she had landed her passengers - 500 boy scouts - in Jersey earlier that morning.
Over the next two days the fire got completely out of control and she drifted until her anchors were dropped and the 42 crew abandoned her. She went down stern-first.
The steamer was built in Dundee in 1906 for the London and South Western Railway Company, which used her between Southampton and St Malo, and for excursion trips to Jersey.
The wrecks GPS position today is 49 03.02N; 02 20.84W and it is 9m proud in a depth of 36m. The latest diving information I have is that it lies east-west with its bow to the east. The bow is intact back to the forward hold, but is lying on the port side. The stern portion is upright, but is being buried by mud. One British diver reports that it has been stripped by French divers!
Board of Trade route  
I am trying to find out about a coal steamer called the Chadwick, wrecked on the Isle of Skye in 1892. Someone said I should look at the Board of Trade court of inquiry report. How do I do that
John Brown, Glasgow


Many a wreck researcher has found the Board of Trade courts of inquiry reports an immense help. These date from 1876 to the loss of the Derbyshire in September 1980. Each one covers the loss of a ship in fine detail.
Until very recently these old records were held at the Marine Safety Agency in Southampton and the man to ask for was Stephen Grace. Now he has moved to become Special Collections Librarian at the Southampton Reference Library, The Civic Centre, Southampton SO14 7LW (new telephone number: 023 8083 2205). And the Board of Trade inquiry reports have gone with him.
This is good news, because Stephen Grace has always been extremely helpful. He tells me things have changed - the old card index, which was somewhat unreliable, has gone. Now to find any report he needs the date of sinking (even if only approximate) and the ships name. The only charge for his service is 10p per page of photocopying, but do send a stamped addressed envelope!
However, on this occasion I can save you the cost of the stamps. I asked Mr Grace about your ship and he was sad to report that there seems to have been no Board of Trade inquiry into her loss.
A number of other sources make it clear that the loss of the Chadwick was a simple case of poor navigation. The 1463 ton 250ft-long cargo steamer was on her way from Glasgow with a load of coal heading for Russias St Petersburg. On the night of 2 July 1892, she ran on to a reef at the foot of a headland in Oisgill Bay, north-west Skye.
She stuck there while all the crew of 19 took to the boats. By the time a tug arrived, she had slipped off the rocks into 30m and was declared a total wreck. It is a good dive.

Black Saturday  
Im looking for a book called Black Saturday. Its about the sinking of HMS Royal Oak. Can you help
Fern Judge, Peterborough


Yes. Black Saturday was written by the late Alexander McKee, of Mary Rose fame. He wrote more than 20 books and this was his second, published in 1959 (ISBN B601 124 0). Corgi did a paperback.
Given that detail, your local library should be able to get one for you.


Thin pickings  
Are there any wrecks to dive between Benidorm and Alicante in south-eastern Spain
Kea Leens, Antwerp, Belgium


Sorry to disappoint you, but the answer seems to be no. You can try local Spanish diving centres of course. The best source for overseas wreck information here is the Wrecks Section of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office, Admiralty Way, Taunton, Somerset TA1 2DN. Tel: 01823 337900. This time, however, it can find little in its records of the Alicante area in fewer than 50m.
Royal Fusilier  
Does anyone have either any topside or underwater pictures of Royal Fusilier, which sank in the Firth of Forth on 3 June, 1941
Ken Laurie, Scotland


Try Diver, February 1999. Mike Clarks guided tour of that wreck is on pages 78-80 with underwater pictures.

French connection  
Can you tell me about wrecks and diving conditions near Cherbourg and St Malo
Lawrence, of Brest, France


No, I cant but I know a man who can. Mark James is his name and he is the author of D-Day Wrecks of Normandy, an excellent diving guide to everything in that area. You can get the book from him at 198 Rykneld Road, Littleover, Derby DE23 7AN, or call 01332-512651 (evenings).
Wreck listing  
Do you know if anyone has published a database of wrecks off the Sussex, Hampshire and Dorset coastlines
Jonathan Kemp


Not to my knowledge, but any such thing will only be a pale imitation of all the wreck diving material in the Diver guides to those very areas. But then, perhaps Im biased!
Hot spot  
Can anyone tell me the history and location of the wreck of the Abbotsford near Wylfa power station, Anglesey
Wilson Bostock


The 2554-ton US iron steamer Abbotsford was carrying cotton from Philadelphia to Liverpool. The vessel was 345ft long, with a beam of 37ft and drew 26ft. She lost her way in heavy fog on 21 July, 1875, and ran aground on Wylfa Head. All aboard were saved, but the Abbotsfords bow was badly broken and she was stuck fast.
Gales soon broke her up. Today she is spread out in 2-20m around 53 25.53N; 04 28.13W. That places some of her wreckage within 400m of Wylfa nuclear power stations water-cooling outlets!


Doomed liner  
Can you please give me any information on HMS Ceramic, which was sunk in 1942 My grandad was killed on board.
CG, London


Ceramic was a liner appointed by the Navy as an auxiliary cruiser at the start of WW2. She had been built for the Shaw Savill line in 1913 at Harland and Wolff, 18,713 tons, 655ft long with a beam of 69ft. Her 7750hp engines could give her 15 knots.
At one time Ceramic held the record as the largest triple-screw ship to visit Australia. But her speed and size didnt save her in the night of 6 December, 1942 when, in convoy from Liverpool for St Helena, Durban and Sydney, she was torpedoed off the Azores during a gale and heavy seas by U-515, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Werner Henke.
Of the 378 passengers and 278 crew aboard, there was only one survivor, a sapper who was picked up by a German submarine the next day.
In April 1943, Henke in U-515 sank eight ships, totalling 49,196 tons, out of one convoy on its way to Freetown. He was rewarded with the Knights Cross with oak leaves for this exploit, but a year later was sunk by a combined air and sea attack. He and 42 of his crew survived, though he is reported to have been killed trying to escape from a prison camp.
I can find no reports of diving on either the Ceramic (estimated position 40 30.00N; 40 20.00W) or U-515 (north of Madeira, 34 35.00N; 19 18.00W).