Retired Section Swansea Docks

 

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s.s. ‘Stalheim’
We thank Bjoern Pedersen for the  photo.

         
Pictured below is the s.s. ‘Stalheim’, built in Fredrikstad, Norway, in 1936. On the 31st July 1940 she departed Port Talbot Docks for Cardiff loaded with 1,876 tons of anthracite but, shortly after leaving the dock entrance, she struck a magnetic mine. The ship is reported to have burnt fiercely after the explosion and to have sunk in less than three minutes.

 Five crewmen who were in the engine room at the time of the explosion were killed and, apart from three men who were fortunate enough to escape unharmed, the remaining 13 of the 21 man crew were all seriously injured, as was the local pilot, Capt. H. A. Gunn.

  The Mumbles Lifeboat was called to muster, but stood down when it became known that an RAF rescue launch had picked up the surviving members of the crew. One of the men who died, Albin Andersen, is buried at Goytre Cemetery on the outskirts of Port Talbot. The wreck of the ‘Stalheim’, which is indicated by a marker buoy, lies shore-side of the Port Talbot Harbour entrance channel. 



 

On the right is the grave of Second Engineer


Albin Andersen

at Goytre Cemetery, Port Talbot. He was one of the five men who lost their lives when the s.s. ‘Stalheim’ struck a mine on the 31st

July 1940.

 

Many thanks to Ray Jones for the picture.

 




The chart above shows the position of the wrecks of the Cabenda, the Madjoe and the Stalheim





    


m.v. ‘Cabenda’
   On the 28th February 1941, on a voyage from Shoreham to Briton Ferry with a cargo of scrap, the coaster m.v. ‘Cabenda’ struck a mine in Swansea Bay and sank approximately 2.5 nautical miles off Port Talbot. Chief Engineer James Winning, born in  Barrow in Furness , was the only one of a crew of twelve to lose his life in this incident, and he lies buried in Morriston Cemetery. The minesweeper Perdant picked up eleven of the crew and transferred them to the Mumbles Lifeboat 'Edward, Prince of Wales'

The ‘Cabenda’ was built in 1936 by the Goole Shipbuilding & Repairing Co. Ltd., and she was owned by T. E. Evans & Co. Ltd. of London. Her dimensions were:- length 183.6’, beam 27.1’, GRT 534 tons and NRT 274 tons.

     To this day the wreck of the ‘Cabenda’ remains a potential hazard to ships entering Port Talbot Tidal Harbour, and its location is marked by a Cardinal buoy. Unfortunately we have been unable to source a photograph of this ship, so if anyone could help us out by providing one we would be extremely grateful.



 

 


We would like to thank Richard Jones for sending us this photograph of the m.v. 'Cabenda'


m.v. Madjoe

          On the 4th November 1941 the ‘Madjoe’, a Dutch coaster under the command of Capt. J. Oorburg, was leaving Port Talbot Docks for Sharpness with a cargo of coal. She was almost clear of the outer channel buoy when she hit a mine and sank. The crew of four men and two gunners were lost in the incident, along with the local pilot, Capt. George Fairweather.

       The ‘Madjoe’ was built in 1936 by J. J. Pattje & Zn. of Waterhuizen, Gronigen, for Jan Bakker, Veendam. Her dimensions were:- length 35.38 metres, beam 6.65 metres, GRT 229 tons, NRT 124 tons, and DWT 255 tons.


HMS Sylph

        On Saturday 22nd January 1927 HMS Sylph, an ‘R' Class destroyer built in Govan by Harland & Wolff in 1917, set off from Devonport towed by the tug ‘Warrior’, destined for Cashmore’s ship breaking yard in Newport. Stormy weather forced the ships to shelter in Plymouth Roads on the Sunday, and the voyage recommenced the following day. Weather conditions remained foul however and, off the Pendeen Light, the towrope parted and the destroyer went adrift with her crew of four ex-navel men aboard. Another rope was passed to the ‘Sylph’, but that also parted, and the destroyer drifted up channel abreast of Lundy, where the tug managed to get yet another rope across. Off Bull Point the towrope parted again leaving the ‘Sylph’ to the mercy of the wind and seas.

      
Finally, on Thursday 27th January, after fears of grounding on Oxwich Point, the destroyer managed to drop anchor in Oxwich Bay and the ‘Warrior’ went into Swansea for supplies. Returning that night another attempt was made to reach Newport, but the towrope parted off Port Talbot and, in the early hours of Friday morning, the destroyer begin to drift ashore in the raging gale. The tug stood by to render assistance but, with no towropes remaining, the Captain could only try to get the crew off the destroyer. Several times he ranged alongside the ‘Sylph’ but was unable to maintain the ‘Warrior’s position due to the heavy seas. Both vessels were now perilously close to the beach, and the tug was forced to sheer off to avoid going ashore

      As soon as it became apparent that the ‘Sylph’ would run aground, the Port Talbot rocket life-saving apparatus team was ordered out to assist. Driven by the gale-force wind, the destroyer finally pitched ashore on Aberavon sands about a mile and a half from the North Pier. When the LAS team arrived at the scene, two rockets were fired but the wind was too strong and they were swept away. The team managed to get a line aboard the ‘Sylph’ once the tide had receded but, in the mean time, one of the crew had got over the side and half swam half scrambled ashore. The remaining three crew members were rescued a little later. A letter of thanks was sent to the Port Talbot LAS team who had worked waist deep in the stormy sea throughout this rescue.

        ( Note -
 HMS ‘Sylph’s displacement was 975 tons. She was never refloated after the above incident, and was broken up for scrap on Aberavon Beach.)



The Tug Warrior

The Warrior was built in South Shields in 1895 and was scrapped in 1930. She was owned by John Page & Co of London.
Gross tonnage 129 tons 106' in length, 98 nhp, 700 ihp
In 1895 delivered to Elliott Steam & Tug Company.
( Dick & Page Tugs ) London.
Assisted in the passenger rescue at the sinking of the Lusitania. She was one
of the first vessels to reach the torpedoed Liner, saving 74 lives.

Served during WW1 under the Royal Navy

 


s.s. Fort Medine

           Pictured above is the s.s. ‘Fort Medine’ sailing under her previous name of the s.s. ‘Bradford City’. On the 20th February 1941, nearing the end of a voyage from Canada with 7,000 tons of iron ore for the steelworks at Port Talbot, the ‘Fort Medine’ struck a mine off Swansea Docks, broke in two and sank. . Being a hazard to shipping, the wreck was partially broken up for scrap, but was never totally removed.  Louis Rabour, 33 year old Master of the 'Fort Medine', was seriously injured in the incident and died two days later.

          Built by Craig, Taylor & Co. of Stockton on Tees, the ship was launched in1918 as the ‘War Fox II’, completed 1919 as the ‘Bradford City’, and renamed ‘Fort Medine’ in 1929. Her dimensions were:- length 400’, beam 52.3’, and GRT 5,261 tons.


Michel Swenden.
Pictured above is the Dutch coaster ‘Michel Swenden’, driven ashore alongside the North Pier, Aberavon, on the morning of Saturday, 2nd February 1957. Several efforts to refloat the vessel that evening and the following day were thwarted due to the tow-ropes parting on each occasion. However, on the p.m. high tide of Monday, 4th May she was successfully towed clear of the sands and put into Port Talbot Dry Dock for inspection.  
 

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