RMS Mulheim

 

Well it’s been 10 years since the RMS Mulheim was wrecked in Gamper Bay and a flat(ish) day on our surfing holiday gave a good excuse to go and have an explore.

 

Access down the cliff, despite the warning sign was not too tricky but once near to the wreck then the fun really starts. The ship is currently lying on slippery boulders at quite an angle (possibly around 35 degrees), surrounded by a labyrinth of rusting and twisted steel plates to negotiate. It’s a large wreck that’s for sure, and on closer inspection it can be seen that the belly of the ship has been ripped out by the constant battering of the winter storm swells.

After a quick mooch round the exterior it was time to go inside. First up was the middle deck, with access gained through an inch thick heavy steel door that was only just moveable. Once inside there were several rooms to explore, one with sinks and kitchen units still in situ. Care was needed as there was holes everywhere, some with big drops into the sea below, and the angle of the floor and walls made walking around very tricky – more like climbing than walking really.

Next up was the lower deck – this was more tricky but eventually found a ladder from the rear deck descending into the void below. Didn’t fancy that so instead, clambered up inside the lower deck from the rocks below the ship, grabbing hold of some old piping to pull up on during a break in the waves (in hindsight the ladder would have been easier and I used the ladder to exit). The lower deck had carpets, shower plinths, pipework and electrical cabling still in place and it was really interesting trying to climb up the angled floor to reach the porthole windows for a look out of the ships side.

The main deck of the ship was last, and the angle of the ship made for some interesting climbing moves. From here the bridge can be explored, as can the ladder leading down a small shaft from a hatch into what remains of the engine room in the darkness below (too dark for a good photo).

All in all a great explore. The wreck is in a pretty sorry state, with holes, drops, jagged & rusting metal everywhere. It is not for the faint hearted that’s for sure and exploring with waves crashing through the void in the ship’s belly below makes for some interesting atmosphere and noises. Unfortunately all I had with me was the camera on my phone (hence the not great pictures). I was also wearing shorts and a T-shirt (both now torn, and rust stained after the explore). The rust stains also took a few days to disappear from my hands.

 

The history of the wreck can be found here: MV RMS Mulheim – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Murmansk – The Cruiser That Never Gave Up

Murmansk was a light cruiser project no. 68-bis  of the Soviet and later the Russian Navy’s Northern Fleet.

She was laid down in Severodvinsk in 1953 and commissioned on 22 September 1955. The Murmanskjoined the 2nd Cruiser Division on the division’s formation in 1956.

In 1994 she was sold to India for scrapping but ran aground off the Norwegian village of Sørvær during the transfer. It was first estimated that the winter storms would destroy the parts of Murmansk above the water, but in 2009 funding was allocated to pay for the dismantling of the vessel. Since the ship was in very bad state when the decision to remove it was done, there was no possibility to tow it. It had to be removed piece by piece. Scandinavia’s largest demolition contractor, AF Decom, constructed a massive breakwater and dry dock around Murmansk to access the shipwreck from land and demolish it where it rested. The dock around the wreck was sealed in April 2012. By mid-May the dock was almost empty of water and the demolishing of the cruiser began. The project was completed in 2013.

There is a dispute about possible radioactive substances within the ship. Some claim that the substance found is Polonium-210, which has a half-life of 138 days.

On  the 24th of December, 1994, the Russian cruiser broke free while being towed, and partially sank outside a small village, on an island on the north coast of Norway. This seas are very rough and the area is subject to extreme weather conditions.

In short, the AF strategy consists of the dry dock demolition and removal of the wreck where it lies.  This will be done by establishing breakwaters and constructing a dry dock around the “Murmansk” wreck.  The water will then be pumped out of the dry dock so the wreck will be dry.  Then construction machinery will then break down the cruiser, and sort different demolition materials to be shipped out to waste and recycling facilities.

W e have finally succeeded in getting the dock watertight and “Murmansk” is now out in the open. We have chosen not to drain the pool completely because we do not want to expose the construction of unnecessary stress. We can easily demolish most of the ship as it is situated now, says project manager and senior adviser Knut Arnhus in the Norwegian Coastal Administration according to their web site.

The wreck is in very bad condition since waves and hard weather has torn it for almost 20 years. The contractor will not try to get into the ship before it has been opened thoroughly from the outside, and then tear it apart piece by piece”.

Source : http://www.warhistoryonline.com/war-articles/murmansk-cruiser-never-gave.html

Avro Shackleton Pelican 16 Wreck, Sahara Desert

This Avro Shackleton of the South African Air Force was restored to flight in 1994. But it crashed later that year while transiting to the UK. The aircraft, SAAF 1716, call sign Pelican 16, was forced to make an emergency landing after suffering a double engine failure. Nobody was injured in the crash, but the aircraft was abandoned in the Sahara Desert.

Sister aircraft ‘Pelican 22‘, owned by the South African Air Force Museum, is the only remaining airworthy Shackleton MR3 in the world. While it’s been grounded due to safety and preservation reasons, the engines are run-up once a month.

The Titanic Story

A century has sailed by since the luxury steamship RMS Titanic met its catastrophic end in the North Atlantic, plunging two miles to the ocean floor after sideswiping an iceberg during its maiden voyage. Rather than the intended Port of New York, a deep-sea grave became the pride of the White Star Line’s final destination in the early hours of April 15, 1912. More than 1,500 people lost their lives in the disaster. In the decades since her demise, Titanic has inspired countless books and several notable films while continuing to make headlines, particularly since the 1985 discovery of her resting place off the coast of Newfoundland. Meanwhile, her story has entered the public consciousness as a powerful cautionary tale about the perils of human hubris.

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THE MAKING OF TITANIC

 

The Royal Mail Steamer Titanic was the product of intense competition among rival shipping lines in the first half of the 20th century. In particular, the White Star Line found itself in a battle for steamship primacy with Cunard, a venerable British firm with two standout ships that ranked among the most sophisticated and luxurious of their time. Cunard’s Mauretania began service in 1907 and immediately set a speed record for the fastest transatlantic crossing that it held for 22 years. Cunard’s other masterpiece, Lusitania, launched the same year and was lauded for its spectacular interiors. It met its tragic end–and entered the annals of world history–on May 7, 1915, when a torpedo fired by a German U-boat sunk the ship, killing nearly 1,200 of the 1,959 people on board and precipitating the United States’ entry into World War I.

The same year that Cunard unveiled its two magnificent liners, J. Bruce Ismay, chief executive of White Star, discussed the construction of three large ships with William J. Pirrie, chairman of the Belfast-based shipbuilding company Harland and Wolff. Part of a new “Olympic” class of liners, they would each measure 882 feet in length and 92.5 feet at their broadest point, making them the largest of their time. In March 1909, work began in the massive Harland and Wolff yard on the second of these ships, Titanic, and continued nonstop until the spring of 1911.

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On May 31, 1911, Titanic’s immense hull–at the time, the largest movable manmade object in the world–made its way down the slipways and into the River Lagan in Belfast. More than 100,000 people attended the launching, which took just over a minute and went off without a hitch. The hull was immediately towed to a mammoth fitting-out dock where thousands of workers would spend most of the next year building the ship’s decks, constructing her lavish interiors and installing the 29 giant boilers that would power her two main steam engines.

 

TITANIC’S FATAL FLAWS

 

According to some hypotheses, Titanic was doomed from the start by the design so many lauded as state-of-the-art. The Olympic-class ships featured a double bottom and 15 watertight bulkheads equipped with electric watertight doors which could be operated individually or simultaneously by a switch on the bridge. It was these watertight bulkheads that inspired Shipbuilder magazine, in a special issue devoted to the Olympic liners, to deem them “practically unsinkable.” But the watertight compartment design contained a flaw that may have been a critical factor in Titanic’s sinking: While the individual bulkheads were indeed watertight, water could spill from one compartment into another. Several of Titanic’s Cunard-owned contemporaries, by contrast, already boasted innovative safety features devised to avoid this very situation. Had White Star taken a cue from its competitor, it might have saved Titanic from disaster.

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The second critical safety lapse that contributed to the loss of so many lives was the number of lifeboats carried on Titanic. Those 16 boats, along with four Engelhardt “collapsibles,” could accommodate 1,178 people. Titanic when full could carry 2,435 passengers, and a crew of approximately 900 brought her capacity to more than 3,300 people. As a result, even if the lifeboats were loaded to full capacity during an emergency evacuation, there were available seats for only one-third of those on board. While unthinkably inadequate by today’s standards, Titanic’s supply of lifeboats actually exceeded the British Board of Trade’s regulations.

 

 

The largest passenger steamship ever built, Titanic created quite a stir when it departed for its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, on April 10, 1912. After stops in Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown (now known as Cobh), Ireland, the ship set sail for New York with 2,240 passengers and crew—or “souls,” the expression then used in the shipping industry, usually in connection with a sinking—on board.

As befitting the first transatlantic crossing of the world’s most celebrated ship, many of these souls were high-ranking officials, wealthy industrialists, dignitaries and celebrities. First and foremost was the White Star Line’s managing director, J. Bruce Ismay, accompanied by Thomas Andrews, the ship’s builder from Harland and Wolff. (Missing was J.P. Morgan, whose International Mercantile Marine shipping trust controlled the White Star Line and who had selected Ismay as a company officer. The financier had planned to join his associates on Titanic but canceled at the last minute when some business matters delayed him.)

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The wealthiest passenger was John Jacob Astor IV, who had made waves a year earlier by marrying 18-year-old Madeleine Talmadge Force, a young woman 29 years his junior, not long after divorcing his first wife. Other millionaire passengers included the elderly owner of Macy’s, Isidor Straus, and his wife Ida; industrialist Benjamin Guggenheim, accompanied by his mistress, valet and chauffeur; and widow and heiress Margaret “Molly” Brown, who would earn her “unsinkable” nickname by helping to maintain calm and order while the lifeboats were being loaded and boosting the spirits of her fellow survivors.

The employees attending to this collection of First Class notables were largely traveling Second Class, along with academics, tourists, journalists and others who would enjoy a level of service equivalent to First Class on most other ships. But by far the largest group of passengers was in Third Class: more than 700, exceeding the other two levels combined. Some had paid less than $20 to make the crossing. It was Third Class that was the major source of profit for shipping lines like White Star and Cunard, and Titanic was designed to offer these passengers accommodations and amenities superior to those found in Third Class on any ship up to that time.

Titanic’s departure from Southampton on April 10 was not without some oddities. A small coal fire was discovered in one of her bunkers–an alarming but not uncommon occurrence on steamships of the day. Stokers hosed down the smoldering coal and shoveled it aside to reach the base of the blaze. After assessing the situation, the captain and chief engineer concluded that it was unlikely it had caused any damage that could affect the hull structure, and the stokers were ordered to continue controlling the fire at sea. According to a theory put forth by a small number of Titanic experts, the fire became uncontrollable after the ship left Southampton, forcing the crew to attempt a full-speed crossing; moving at such a fast pace, they were unable to avoid the fatal collision with the iceberg. Another unsettling event took place when Titanic left the Southampton dock. As she got underway, she narrowly escaped a collision with the America Line’s S.S. New York. Superstitious Titanic buffs often point to this as the worst kind of omen for a ship departing on her maiden voyage. Ironically, had Titanic collided with the ship named for her port of destination, the delay might have spared the ship from being in the precise position for her encounter with the iceberg.

 

 

That encounter took place roughly four days out, at about 11:30 p.m. on April 14. Titanic was equipped with a Marconi wireless, and there had been sporadic reports of ice from other ships, but she was sailing on calm seas under a moonless, clear sky. A lookout saw the iceberg dead ahead coming out of a slight haze, rang the warning bell and telephoned the bridge. The engines were quickly reversed and the ship was turned sharply, and instead of making direct impact the berg seemed to graze along the side of the ship, sprinkling ice fragments on the forward deck. Sensing no collision, the lookouts were relieved. They had no idea that the iceberg’s jagged underwater spur had slashed a 300-foot gash well below the ship’s waterline, and that Titanic was doomed. By the time the captain toured the damaged area with Harland and Wolff’s Thomas Andrews, five compartments were already filling with seawater, and the bow of the ship was alarmingly down. Andrews did a quick calculation and estimated that Titanic might remain afloat for an hour and a half, perhaps slightly more. At that point the captain, who had already instructed his wireless operator to call for help, ordered the lifeboats to be loaded.

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A little more than an hour after contact with the iceberg, a largely disorganized and haphazard evacuation process began with the lowering of the first lifeboat. The craft was designed to hold 65 people; it left with only 28 aboard. Amid the confusion and chaos during the precious hours before Titanic plunged into the sea, nearly every boat would be launched woefully under-filled, some with only a handful of passengers. In compliance with the law of the sea, women and children boarded the boats first; only when there were no women or children nearby were men permitted to board. Yet many of the victims were in fact women and children, the result of disorderly procedures that failed to get them to the boats in the first place.

Exceeding Andrews’ prediction, Titanic stubbornly managed to stay afloat for close to three hours. Those hours witnessed acts of craven cowardice and extraordinary bravery. Hundreds of human dramas unfolded between the order to load the lifeboats and the ship’s final plunge: Men saw off wives and children, families were separated in the confusion and selfless individuals gave up their spots to remain with loved ones or allow a more vulnerable passenger to escape.

The ship’s most illustrious passengers each responded to the circumstances with conduct that has become an integral part of the Titanic legend. Ismay, the White Star managing director, helped load some of the boats and later stepped onto a collapsible as it was being lowered. Although no women or children were in the vicinity when he abandoned ship, he would never live down the ignominy of surviving the disaster while so many others perished. Thomas Andrews, Titanic’s chief designer, was last seen in the First Class smoking room, staring blankly at a painting of a ship on the wall. Astor deposited Madeleine in a lifeboat and, remarking that she was pregnant, asked if he could accompany her; refused entry, he managed to kiss her goodbye just before the boat was lowered away. Although offered a seat on account of his age, Isidor Straus refused any special consideration, and his wife Ida would not leave her husband behind. The couple retired to their cabin and perished together. Benjamin Guggenheim and his valet returned to their rooms and changed into formal evening dress; emerging onto the deck, he famously declared, “We are dressed in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.” Molly Brown helped load the boats and finally was forced into one of the last to leave. She implored its crewmen to turn back for survivors, but they refused, fearing they would be swamped by desperate people trying to escape the freezing ocean.

Titanic, nearly perpendicular and with many of her lights still aglow, finally dove beneath the icy surface at approximately 2:20 a.m. on April 15. Throughout the morning, Cunard’s Carpathia, after receiving Titanic’s distress call at midnight and steaming at full speed while dodging ice floes all night, rounded up all of the lifeboats. They contained only 705 survivors.

 

 

At least five separate boards of inquiry on both sides of the Atlantic conducted comprehensive hearings on Titanic’s sinking, interviewing dozens of witnesses and consulting with many maritime experts. Every conceivable subject was investigated, from the conduct of the officers and crew to the construction of the ship. While it has always been assumed that the ship sank as a result of the gash that caused the compartments to flood, various other theories have emerged over the decades, including that the ship’s steel plates were too brittle for the near-freezing Atlantic waters, that the impact caused rivets to pop and that the expansion joints failed, among others.

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The technological aspects of the catastrophe aside, Titanic’s demise has taken on a deeper, almost mythic, meaning in popular culture. Many view the tragedy as a morality play about the dangers of human hubris: Titanic’s creators believed they had built an “unsinkable” ship that could not be defeated by the laws of nature. This same overconfidence explains the electrifying impact Titanic’s sinking had on the public when she was lost. There was widespread disbelief that the ship could possibly have sunk, and, due to the era’s slow and unreliable means of communication, misinformation abounded. Newspapers initially reported that the ship had collided with an iceberg but remained afloat and was being towed to port with everyone on board. It took many hours for accurate accounts to become available, and even then people had trouble accepting that this paradigm of modern technology could sink on her maiden voyage, taking more than 1,500 souls with her.

The ship historian John Maxtone-Graham has compared Titanic’s story to the Challenger space shuttle disaster of 1986. In that case, the world reeled at the notion that some of the most sophisticated technology ever created could explode into oblivion along with its crew. Both tragedies triggered a sudden and complete collapse in confidence, revealing that we are vulnerable despite our modern presumptions of technological infallibility.

 

 

Gallant Lady Shipwreck

What is it about shipwrecks that draw us to them. Let’s look at the Gallant Lady wreck that rests on the rocks of North Bimini. You look at the rusting hulk of the ship, sitting there helpless against the pounding sea, but something inside you feels uneasy. You know it’s impossible but you want to save her. It’s almost as if you are witnessing a stranded whale that doesn’t below in the shallows, you want to push it back out to sea where it can thrive, where it belongs. Sadly this is where she fell, this is where she will stay.

Then there are the stories she tells. You look at her and think about the crew that sailed her, you think about the captain that fought the wind and wrestled the waves. I can see him at the helm now, fighting to keep the Gallant Lady off the rocks, a battle he would lose. Now she sits like a gravestone, never to move again. What happened to the crew? Did they survive? Did they abandon ship and swim to Bimini? Where was she going? What was she carrying? All questions that make shipwrecks strangely mysterious.

The once small freighter sailed out of Belize City and was smashed up on shore during Hurricane Mitch in 1997. At least that’s what the legend says.  In only 15 years the once proud ship has been reduced to a rusty mass, barely recognizable as a lady of the sea. The relentless waves have slowly destroyed the ship, eating away at its steel like a hungry shark. Maybe in another 15 years there will be nothing left at all. Nothing left to cause explorers to ponder the her life. Nothing left to push back out to sea.

 

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The Duke of Lancaster

Along with her sister ships the TSS Duke of Rothesay and the TSS Duke of Argyll she was amongst the last passenger-only steamers built for British Railways (at that time, also a ferry operator). She was a replacement for the 1928 steamer built by the London Midland and Scottish Railway, RMS Duke of Lancaster.

 

Built at Harland & Wolff, Belfast and completed in 1956, she was designed to operate as both a passenger ferry (primarily on the Heysham-Belfast route) and as a cruise ship. In this capacity, the Lancaster travelled to the Scottish islands and further afield to Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway and Spain.

From the mid-1960s, passenger ships such as the Lancaster were gradually being superseded by car ferries.[1] Rather than undertake the expensive option of renewing their entire fleet, British Railways instead began a part-programme of conversion. In order to maintain ferry services whilst these modifications took place, the Lancaster’s duties as a cruise ship ceased. On 25 April 1970 the ship returned to service, having had her main deck rebuilt to accommodate vehicles via a door at her stern. The ship now provided space for 1,200 single-class passengers and 105 cars, with a total cabin accommodation for 400 passengers.

The three ships continued on the Heysham-Belfast route until the service was withdrawn on 5 April 1975. The Duke of Lancaster was then briefly employed on theFishguard-Rosslare crossing, before becoming the regular relief vessel on the Holyhead–Dún Laoghaire service until November 1978. The ship was then laid up at Barrow in Furness, Cumbria.

The Duke of Lancaster arrived in Llanerch-y-Mor in August 1979 to start her new life as the Funship. Despite Delyn Councils’ own resolution in favour of the project (which led to the financial commitment) they subsequently refused numerous planning applications, even for signage, opposed the granting of bar licenses, issued a magistrates’ summons over a lack of sufficient fire escapes, applied for a High Court injunction to close the ship on safety grounds, refused permission to trade on the car park area although the Coed Mawr was allowed trading at the time without planning permission, required the Funship to charge an admission fee to supposedly protect the trade in Holywell town centre although the Funship targeted tourism and even sabotaged a Welsh Development Grant awarded for sea defence and landscaping purposes. All this was followed by the serving of 13 separate Enforcement Notices, around 1985, blighting the site until 1990 when the Council lost on their actions at the hands of the Secretary of State for Wales. The Council were ordered to pay unprecedented costs. They had failed yet again. In 1994 the Council struck once more claiming monopoly rights in the High Court. They claimed the Funship Market was within a 6 mile radius of their newly opened Holywell Market and was direct competition, therefore had to close. They applied to the High court for an interlocutory injunction forcing the Funship to close whilst the case went for trial.

That was probably the death knell for the Funship with her owners sick of the attacks they closed the business in 2004. They have continued to fight the case over the years and are still doing so but unfortunately the ship has stood closed ever since.

Despite having large amounts of its exterior paintwork covered in rust, the interior of the ship is in good condition. It was featured in the 2011 series of BBC Two’s Coast.

In early 2012 several local arcade game collectors made a deal with Solitaire Liverpool Ltd and were able to purchase most of the coin operated machines left behind inside the ship at the time the fun ship closed. Removing the games required the use of cranes and other heavy lifting equipment.

The plan is to transform the ship into the largest open air art gallery in the UK. As of August 2012, the Latvian graffiti artist “Kiwie” was commissioned to spraypaint a design on the ship. The ship is slowly being covered with graffiti described as “bright and surreal”. The first phase of the project saw Kiwie and other European graffiti artists paint murals on the ship between August and November 2012, and the second phase (starting at the end of March 2013) included the work of British-based artists such as Snub23, Spacehop, Dan Kitchener and Dale Grimshaw. One of the artworks is a picture of the ship’s first captain, John ‘Jack’ Irwin.

Source : Wikipedia