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HMAV DERBENT

Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 272125

Map Reference SH59NW

Grid Reference SH5169899754

Unitary (Local) Authority Maritime

Old County Maritime

Community Maritime

Type of Site WRECK

Broad Class MARITIME

Period Post Medieval

Site Description The wreck lies on its starboard side with its keel orientated 120/300 degrees. The ship's bell was recovered in 1990. The pedestal for the ship's wheel, the ship's telegraphs, binnacle, steam gauges and portholes are other items recovered and reported to the Receiver of Wreck.

For further information on the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 Act and its administration with regard to vessels, please contact the Ministry of Defence, Wreck Section, Naval Personnel Secretariat, Room 125 Victory Building, HMNB Portsmouth, PO1 3LS.

Event and Historical Information:
The DERBENT was built by Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd at Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1907. Technical and configuration specifications are given 3178gt 1924nt; 310ft length x 43ft breadth x 26ft depth; machinery aft; screw propulsion powered by a triple expansion engine producing 258hp; machinery by Wallsend Slipway Company Ltd, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The ship was built for S.A. de Armament d'Industrie et de Commerce, Antwerp, and completed in March 1908. Voyages before requisitioning by the Admiralty in 1914 include destinations such as Port Arthur, New York, and Rangoon. The Mercantile Navy List 1916 actually gives the Admiralty at the owner and manager. The ship's registry was transferred to the port of London in September 1914. In March 1915, the DERBENT was in the Mediterranean at Port Mudros and Tendos refuelling naval vessels such as HMS PHAETON and HMS INFLEXIBLE which were attempting to seize control of the Dardanelle Straits. The tanker as managed by Messers Lane and MacAndrew for the Admiralty and, at time of loss, was under the command of Arthur Falconer the DERBENT had left Liverpool at 11pm on the night of 29 November 1917 and was on passage to Queenstown carrying 3700 tons of fuel oil. The ship was not in the channel intended by its sailing orders, but 3 3/4 miles to the north of it when it was torpedoed by UB-96 at 5.40am the following day. The engine was stopped to get the boats out and by the time they left there was 2ft of water in the engine room and it was filling fast. The vessel sank by thew stern and the master saw the stern touch bottom at 6.15am. The torpedo struck between no 9 tank and the coffer dam and cross bunker on the port side. The lid of number 9 tank was blow clean off and the deck buckled. The 36 crewmembers (and a stowaway) were picked up by the DERBENT's escort, HMT AUCKLAND. The U-boat was captained by Kapt. Lieutenant Heinrich Jess. The position given for the loss at the time was six miles northeast by east from Lynas Point or 53 28 13N, 4 14 06W. In the correspondence collated by the Admiralty after the incident, it was determined that the sailing instructions given to the DERBENT's master could be interpreted in two ways. The master was exonerated from blame and the sailing instructions altered to make them non-ambiguous. The wreck was located by HMS WOODLARK in 1971. The ship was included in the multi-beam surveys undertaken by Bangor University in 2018, as part of the Royal Commission's HLF-funded Partnership Project - 'Commemorating the Forgotten U-Boat War around the Welsh Coast 1914-18'.

Sources include:
ADM137/4005 Home Waters Ships Attacked November 16 to 30 1917, The National Archives, Kew
HMSO, 1988, British Vessels Lost at Sea 1914-18 and 1939-45, pg24 and 74
Larn and Larn shipwreck database 2002
Receiver of Wreck Droits Database 2007, RCIM6/2/5
Mercantile Navy List 1915, pg152
UK Hydrographic Office Wrecks and Obstructions Database. © Crown Copyright and database rights. Reproduced by permission of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office and the UK Hydrographic Office (www.ukho.gov.uk).

WWW resources:
http://historicalrfa.org/requisitioned-auxiliaries/163-requisitioned-auxiliaries-d/1568-requisitioned-auxiliary-derbent
https://uboatproject.wales/wrecks/derbent/

Maritime Officer, RCAHMW, March 2019