British Cargo Ship Torpedoed By German U-boat Found Off the Coast of Northern Ireland

Photo Credit: 1. School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University / News Release 2. Oliver Trulei / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Photo Credit: 1. School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University / News Release 2. Oliver Trulei / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

A British cargo ship that was sunk by a German U-boat during the First World War has been located off the coast of Northern Ireland. A research team from the School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor University were the ones to discover the wreck of the SS Hartdale, which was torpedoed by SM U-27 in the Irish Sea on March 13, 1915.

Satellite image of the Irish Sea
Satellite image of the Irish Sea. (Photo Credit: Dr. Greg / NASA / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Following her sinking, which resulted in the deaths of two crewmen, the exact location of Hartdale‘s wreck was unknown – and it remained that way for over a century.

The team from Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences, who are currently working on a long-term project called Unpath’d Waters that aims to identify shipwrecks in the waters between Northern Ireland and Isle of Man, were able to identify the wreck through the use of historical and maritime records, including survivor accounts and German war diaries. Multibeam sonar data was also used.

It was through this research that the team was able to locate the wreck some 80 metres below the surface of the Irish Sea, 12 miles off the coast of Northern Ireland.

Two crewmen standing atop the SM U-27 at sea
SM U-27. (Photo Credit: Oliver Trulei / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Speaking in a press release, Dr. Michael Roberts, who led the search, said:

“Connecting scientific data with our disparate, diverse yet information-rich maritime record has enabled us to identify this previously unknown wreck and create a comprehensive and detailed narrative centred around the vessel that it once was and improve our understanding of UK maritime archaeology.

“The vessel is just one of the many thousands of merchant ships known to have been lost in UK waters that remain listed as missing or have been incorrectly identified due to a lack of high-quality data. We certainly now have the capability and technology to [be] able to rectify this largely overlooked issue.”

Barney Sloane, the principal investigator for Unpath’d Waters at Historic England, added, “This is one excellent example of the vast, untapped potential waiting to be unleashed through the creation of a linked, accessible and sustainable national collection of the UK’s cultural and heritage archives, museums and records; potential to unlock human stories and unleash scientific innovation.”

Sonar image of the wreck of the SS Hartdale
Sonar image of the wreck of the SS Hartdale. (Photo Credit: School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University / News Release)

Hartdale began life as the SS Benbrook in 1910, before being sold and renamed in 1915. At the time she was sunk by the German U-boat, she was transporting coal from Scotland to Egypt.

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The discovery of the SS Hartdale was conducted as part of an initiative by Historic England to identify shipwrecks in British waters and document their condition. The vessel’s discovery is the first win for the project.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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