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Wreck at Inganess
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Wreck at Inganess

Craig writes:
'Shipwreck at Inganess beach, I believe it was a cargo boat carrying wood but I know nothing more, any further information or older pictures of the boat would be appreciated. '

I understand that there is a wreck a bit further out from the shore that was loaded with wood (of a type that doesn't float- greenheart?). I've been told that the distressed wood in the Bothy Bar came from it, and also the story that the divers recovering the timbers were paid per timber, so were cutting them up underwater before bringing them to the surface, to increase their earnings!
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Picture added on 13 July 2005
Loch Maddy

Location: Inganess Bay
Depth: 12m
Tide: Any
Size: Gross Tonnage: 4996
Condition: Broken in two, bow section missing
This 4, 996 ton steamship was torpedoed to the East of Orkney by the U 57 on the 20th February 1940 but didn't sink.

She was taken in tow but at 1.09 am on the 21st she received another torpedo, this time from the U 23 commanded by the famous U boat Ace Otto Kretschmer.

The Loch Maddy broke in two, only the aft part remained afloat and was towed to Kirkwall where it sank in 12 meters of water The wreck still has a large amount of her cargo of Oregon pine on board. The bow sank in deep water and has to date never been found.

Added by Dave Earl on 14 July 2005
The wreck shown is the Vardefjell, a norwegian tanker, which broke in two off Lewis on 13 Dec 1942. The stern was towed to the Tyne and a new bow fitted. The bow was thought lost with 12 crew but was found 6 miles NE of the Faroes, abandoned, and was towed to where it is today. ( Shipwrecks of the North of Scotland by R.N.Baird)
Added by W Watters on 17 July 2005
sorry willie but I think you are wrong.
The ship is not the Vardefjell it is the SS Loch Maddy. Vardefjell was taken in tow to Kirkwall, and later to Sunderland where it was even possible to save 3000 tons of her oil.
A new foreship was built, and Vardefjell continued to sail through the rest of the war, and for many years thereafter (she's listed in Convoy HX304)

February 21, 1940, U-57 torpedoed and damages the SS Loch Maddy (4996 tons) part of British convoy (HX 19) East of Copinsay. The crew abandon her.
At 0107 on 22 February the drifting Loch Maddy was hit by a torpedo from U-23 and broke in two 20 miles off Copinsay.
The bow section sank, but the stern section was taken in tow by rescue tug HMS St Mellons & beached in Inganess Bay.
The cargo was salved and the vessel declared a total loss.
One of the crew Mathew Murphy aged 50 of Wexford Ireland was lost.

Added by s thomson on 19 July 2005
it may have escaped your notice but the wreck on the beach is the bow section (pointed end) of a ship and you state yourself that a new foreship( bow) was built for the Vardefjell and the stern (blunt end ) of the Loch Maddy sank in Inganess bay. The wreck was bought by Robert Swanney of the Ayre Hotel in the 60's and tons of wood were recovered by divers. I was on the bow section of the Vardefjell in the 60's and saw no wood or divers but lots of tanker like bits. Info confirmed by Capt W Sinclair ex HM Kirkwall and harbour pilot
Added by W Watters on 28 July 2005
The wreck on the beach is not the Loch Maddy she lies further out in the bay and now belongs to Currie Brothers who I think bought it off Robert Swanney. I was the forman with Currie's in 1984 when they built the fish-farm at Inganess Bay and we spent several weeks removing a quantity of the Oregon Pine from the wreck using Divers and a Barge moored over it. The timbers where still in pristen condition once you removed the worm eaten battens on the outside of the bundles.
These worm eaten timbers were used in the Bothy Bar. The wreck of the Loch Maddy at that time was marked with a buoy but that has long gone.
Added by Charlie Kemp on 31 July 2005
I've just come across this website, and can assure everyone that the photograph above shows the bow section of the norwegian tanker Vardefjell.
for further information, and more photographs, see my book shipwrecks of the north of scotland - isbn 1 84158 233 6.

The book also gives details about the loss of the Glasgow steamship Loch Maddy, whose stern section was towed to Inganess Bay by the tug St.Mellons. Loch Maddy's stern section was beached in 12 metres of water west of Weethick head. By 24 February 1940, 234 tons of cargo had been recovered from the stern section of the Loch Maddy. Despite further salvage, I believe the wreck still contains some of the cargo of oregon pine.
Added by R N Baird on 31 August 2005
Hi all i was talking to my uncle David Rendall who lived in Heatherquoy the little house just above the bay and he said that it is the wreck of the Juanita a block ship that was raisd from no 4 barrier in 1949 and towed to inganess bay for scraping he remembers coming home from school and seeing her in the the bay where she has never moved since.
Added by Gareth Pratt on 08 April 2007
Gareth is quite correct here, She is not the bow section of the VARDEFJELL but more or less the complete hull of a small tanker that was a block ship before the no 4 barrier was built. She was sunk there in 1940 and pathed and refloated after the war approx 1949. She was destined for the scrap yard but was leaking so bad that they towed her to Inganess bay and beached her, where she is to this day.Built at Sunderland as a special service vessel 1918. Named SPRUCOL. 1920 name changed to JUNIATA, ON - 142289, 1, 139 tons
Added by Allan Besant. on 31 July 2007
The tanker Sprucol was built for the Admiralty by Short Bros., Sunderland in 1918. She had two screws and was powered by two Bolinders 8-cylinder oil engines, which gave her a speed of 9.5 knots. She was renamed Juniata in 1920 when acquired by the Anglo-American Oil Co. Ltd. In July 1934 she was sold to the French company Ste. Auxiliare de Transports, but in 1936 Anglo-American Oil bought her back again. On 17 April 1940 she was sunk as a blockship in Water Sound, as part of No.4 Barrier, east of the Churchill Barrier linking the islands of South Ronaldsay and Burray. The wreck lay in the northern part of the channel, in the shallows of Burray, and remained there until July 1949, when she was raised for scrapping. It was found that her condition would not permit towing her to a shipbreaking yard, so she was towed to Inganess Bay and beached.
Some scrapping work seems to have been carried out there, as the stern section has been separated from the wreck, leaving only the bow section still visible above the surface, only a short distance out from the sandy beach off the end of the main runway at Kirkwall airport.

Added by R N Baird on 06 September 2007
I have come across this website while undertaking some family history research. I can't help with the debate about the identity of the boat in the picture, but I have discovered that 4 crew members of the Loch Maddy were lost when it was torpedoed. One of these was my great uncle, Herbert Henry Phipps. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records him as having died on 21 February 1940, while a Fireman Trimmer on the Loch Maddy. I have seen several references to the U-57 being the culprit, but only the above mention of U-23 so far. I suppose this is of more interest to me, but I thought I'd share it with you nonetheless.
Added by Stephen Phipps on 27 November 2007
The Glasgow steamship Loch Maddy was one of the ships in convoy HX19, and was carrying 2000 tons of wheat, 6000 tons of lumber and aircraft from Vancouver to Leith. At 1809 hrs on 21 February 1940 she was hit amidships by a torpedo from U-57 (Korth), and abandoned in AN1654, which equates to about 5839N, 0224W. HMS Diana picked up 33 of her crew of 39 and was herself attacked. HMS Gallant and HMS Griffin carried out a search for the U-boat responsible. Survivors reported that destroyers appeared in answer to their flares about 90 minutes after they left the ship, then left. Shortly afterwards they heard two heavy explosions.
Seven hours later, U-23 (Kretschmer), found the Loch Maddy, still afloat, and torpedoed the ship again at 0107 hrs on the 22nd. This time the Loch Maddy broke in two. Both parts must have remained afloat for some time, as photographs of the bow section sinking, and the stern section under tow to Orkney, were obviously taken in daylight. The position given by Kretschmer was AN1651, which equates to about 5845N, 0224W.
The wreck charted in 62 metres at 5844.404N, 0229.481W, 10 miles SE of Copinsay, might be the bow section of the Loch Maddy, which was reported a danger to shipping until it sank. On the other hand, from the photograph of Loch Maddy’s stern section under tow, it looks like the ship broke in two just forward of the aft hold forward bulkhead. This suggests the aft portion was about 100ft long, leaving the forward section, which sank, about 320ft (or about 100m) long. This ties in quite nicely in length and position with the wreck at 5844.276N, 0240.600W, 8 miles E of Old Head, South Ronaldsay. The wreck at 5844.239N, 0240.710W is 75m long x 24.5m wide x 7.5m high. (i.e. 247.5ft x 80.8ft x 24.75ft). Is this the Loch Maddy bow section?
The tug St.Mellons took the stern section in tow to Inganess Bay, Orkney, where it was beached in 12 metres west of Weethick Head. Up to 24 February 234 tons of cargo was recovered from the after part, but it was considered unlikely that any more could be salvaged. Divers have reported that Oregon pine logs are still in the wreck.

These details are from my book Shipwrecks of the North of Scotland.
Added by R N Baird on 27 November 2007
I'm new to this site and as a diver who has visited Orkney a few times i have an interest in wrecks. I took a picture of this wreck a few years ago and after some research was told that it had been a blockship, but was lifted and moved to it's current position, which would make it the Juanita as suggested above. Unlike the Collindoc, Carron and Pontos, this wreck has not changed much over the years, whereas the others have been almost completely buried in the sand.
Added by Kev Watson on 19 January 2008
Although I realise the vessel pictured is not the "Danmark" I thought the following extract from "The Battle of the Atlantic" (Andrew Williams/BBC) might be of interest:

"The boat (I joined) was Kretschmer's U23. On the evening of 11 January (1940) 'the old man' set course for Inganess Bay on the east side of the Orkneys, close to their principal town, Kirkwall.

The entrance to the bay was guarded by two ASW trawlers, equipped with ASDIC and depth charges. It was a clear, but moonless night. Kretschmer was able to edge the U-boat past the picket into the bay. A large tanker, the 10,500 ton Danish registered Danmark, was anchored in the southwest corner, making very little effort to disguise her presence.
We could see the people on the bridge with their cigarettes. We shot at it, and yes, it worked- that torpedo did explode at the right time. We were very proud and happy. The English didn't believe we could be so close by the anchorage, and when the torpedo exploded they searched the sky with lights because they thought we were the Luftwaffe. They were even firing into the air..."

Click here
for some more info about the fate of the ship and her final resting place.
Added by Iain Crosbie on 17 December 2009
I found the information very interesting. I am the adopted daughter of Jim McAlpine, engineer, who sailed with Loch Maddy and was torpedoed, I believe at this time.

By a strange co-incidence, we now think my birth father, William McGill may also have been in the crew as well. I would like to solve the mystery. Both men are now dead. Can anyone shed light?
Added by MRS HELEN McDIARMID on 20 August 2010
The ship in the picture at the end of Kirkwall airport runway is (or was) RFA Sprucol which after WW1 was sold by the Admiralty and was renamed Juniata. During her Admiralty service she was torpedoed and badly damaged. Full details of this attack and the damage caused (with images) can be currently found on the front page of the web site of the RFA Historical Society - www.historicalrfa.org

Please be assured the wreckage is NOT that of the Loch Maddy
Added by Chris White on 04 March 2017
But can we be assured her name was JUNIATA Chris? It was JUANITA a bit further up the page.
Added by Ian Hourston on 06 March 2017
On the sign at the beach it is identified as the JUANITA, but with no other information.
Added by Amy on 26 August 2017
See www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?61083
Added by Paul Sutherland on 27 August 2017
A photograph of the ship, clearly showing her name as JUNIATA is included in the website: www.historicalrfa.org/archived-stories2/1018-rfa-sprucols-lucky-escape
Added by R N Baird on 13 September 2017
R N Baird's quoted site shows her name to be JUNIATA without doubt. Later references to 'JUANITA' must be owing to what people - including me - thought was a better form of the word.
Added by Ian Hourston on 14 September 2017
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