Wave Shape
Wave Shape

S.S. George A. Savage

Wave Shape

This steamship wreck, presumed to be the George A Savage lies 22 km SSE from Borrow Head. It lies at a depth of 42 metres (LW) on a stony seabed with the bow orientated to 165 degrees. The vessel is in a collapsed state with the boiler area and starboard hull plates rising to about 3 to 4 metres above the seabed. The bow which in 2002 was reported as being upright has now collapsed to the port side.

Starting at the large boiler (1) which is surrounded by a jumble of bent and twisted pipes and girders one can begin to get ones bearings. The two cylinder compound engine (2) lies on its port side behind the boiler and spreading out from this is a tangled debris field partly buried in built up shale. Square shaped window frames, plates with port holes attached and pieces of copper sheathing (3) lie in this area which is presumably what remains of the bridge and superstructure. This debris extends towards the stern of the wreck which is badly broken up with the propeller (4) and large rudder lying in a heap on the seabed. It would suggest that the vessel was torpedoed or mined on the port side abaft the bridge.

Moving forward of the boiler it is obvious that you are in the hold area (5). The port side plates have collapsed outwards and presumably lie beneath the built up sand bank which covers this area. Alternatively this may be where the torpedo struck, destroying the port side in the hold area. The starboard hull side is more intact, though it is now a skeletal structure, covered in plumose anemones, with most of the hull plates rotted and fallen to the seabed 3 metres below. It is interesting to note that the ribs here are more closely spaced together than usual and are double ribs. This certainly indicates a vessel built to a high strength specification and may show that it was built with a sealed internal hold. The fact that the vessel was transporting pitch may have necessitated a tank like hold but I would have thought that pitch in that era would have been transported in barrels.

Following the line of ribs forward you come to the bow section (6) which is now collapsed over to port lying flattened to the seabed. Like the rest of the wreck this area is completely covered in plumose anemones. At the starboard side it is possible to peer into the bow compartment and surprisingly it contains a strong steel plate which seems to divide the compartment in two along the line of the keel.

Near to the bow the port side plates lie on the seabed and anchor hawse hole is clearly visible.

Returning to the stern the anchor winch (7) lies displaced off to port among a collection of debris and just beyond it is the main cargo winch along with its strengthened base plate. Nearby can be seen pieces of copper sheathing, which may have covered the binnacle, mooring cleats, a section of tiling and what seems like a small donkey boiler. In this area where the sand has built up much lies buried but one small item, an ornate stair tread cover is similar to ones found on the Inkosi and Romeo and would tend to date the vessel to the 1900 period, as would the general construction of the vessel.

Although first dived by Isle of Man divers in 1997, it is obvious that the wreck is not often visited. Much is still to be found and the identity of the wreck confirmed. The name letters may still be on the fallen bow plates, and a makers plate is visible on the photograph near to the portholes and this may be found. The only negative factor about identifying the vessel is that the remains of the forecastle seem very short compared to the forecastle shown in the photograph. The above sketch is second draft and more precise details will be added after future dives.

The strong tidal streams in the area and the distance from the Isle of Whithorn mean that for our club this is very much a low water neap tide dive, particularly when the winds are slight to make the journey out easier. The slack water period seems to start about 40 mins before stated (LW) Isle of Whithorn.

To find out more about this wreck, have a look at it’s wreck history page.

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