Thursday, June 10, 2004

The Rota - A Mirror Image ?

A British armed merchantman that was transporting iron ore from the Algerian port of Beni Saf to the United Kingdom. That was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine during the First World War leaving a wreck with a stern gun lying upright in the English channel that has been dived and had it's bell recovered, is this the story of the T R Thompson - No!

It's the sory of the 'ROTA' that lies at 50 24 57N; 03 18 50W. The bell of this British, formerly Danish, 2171-ton armed merchantman built in 1915 by Dunlop, Bremmer and Company, was raised by Devon divers Ken Breeze and Dave Baker in 1981. The 310ft ship was heading from Beni Saf in Algeria with a cargo of iron ore for Middlesborough on 22nd July 1917, when she was torpedoed by UB-40, commanded by Oberleutnant Howaldt. On this mission from Zeebrugge (14th to 25th July), Howaldt had already sunk the liner Salsette in Dorset waters on 20th July and had been heavily depth-charged on several occasions. When this torpedo struck the ROTA, the captain and four men died.

Today the ship is upright and the torpedo damage can be clearly seen between bows and bridge on the starboard side. She lies almost east-west, in 28m to her deck and 44m to the sea bed. There is a 2m scour in her port side. Until recently her gun was still on the stern.


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