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Map ReferenceSS77NE
Grid ReferenceSS7866179492
Unitary (Local) AuthorityMaritime
Old CountyMaritime
Type Of SiteWRECK
Period20th Century

The engine block is reported to stand 2m high alongside a rocky ledge in general depth of 1.6m. Small wreckage is spread over a large area. A ship's log and reel are reported to have been recovered by sports divers.

Event and Historical Information:
This Liberty Ship (ex PELEG WADSWORTH) was built by the New England Shipbuilding Corporation (East Yard), Portland in 1943.Technical and configuration specifications are given as 7219gt, 4380nt; 422ft 8in long x 57ft 8in breadth x 34ft depth; powered by a steam triple expansion engine producing 2500 hp. Liberty ships were based on a simple design produced by British shipbuilder J L Thompson & Sons of Sunderland. The design, adapted to conform to US regulations and to make them cheaper and easier to build, became to symbolize the USA's wartime industrial output. Eighteen American shipyards produced 2,751 ships between 1941 and 1945. In a speech made on 27 September 1941, President Franklin D Roosevelt said that these new ships would bring liberty to Europe, which led to name 'Liberty Ship' coming into popular use. The SAMTAMPA was originally named for an American officer from American Revolutionary War. Peleg Wadsworth (1748-1829) was an aide to General Artemas Ward and General John Thomas. He became the Adjutant General of Massachusetts in 1778, and a presidential elector and a member of the Massachusetts Senate from 1793-1807. At time of loss on 23 April 1947, the ship was owned by owned by the Crown as represented by the Minister of Transport, and managed by Houlder Bros & Co Ltd., London, EC3 (the registered manager being Mr. Vincent West Maw). The steamship was on passage from Middlesbrough to Newport under the command of captain H Neale Sherwell. In fog in the Bristol Channel, the SAMTAMPA developed an engine fault. Captain Sherwell anchored in Swansea Bay whilst the problem was explored, despite a near gale blowing. Around 4.40pm the starboard anchor chain parted and 10 minutes later the port one gave way. Within 20 minutes, the ship had driven ashore on the rocks near Sker Point. The Mumbles lifeboat EDWARD, PRINCE OF WALES was launched at 6.10 pm under the command of coxswain William Gammon. At the same time, the Porthcawl Coastguards and Rocket Brigade attempting to pass a line to the ship from the shore. The winds had increased to in excess of 100 mph which made this impossible. Within two hours, the SAMTAMPA was a total wreck and had broken into three pieces. None of the 39 crewmen were saved. What happened to the Mumbles lifeboat is also uncertain, but it was found smashed and upside down further along the beach the following morning. All 8 lifeboatmen were lost. The crew of the SAMTAMPA were buried at Porthcawl. The crew of the lifeboat were buried at the Mumbles. A memorial to the crew of the SAMTAMPA and the Mumbles lifeboat was unveiled at the final resting place of the lifeboat in 1992. The wreck is shown on RAF oblique aerial photographs dated 07/06/1948 (Ref:541/52/0062) and on RAF vertical aerial photographs (Ref: CPE/UK/2081/4047) dated 19/05/1947. In the latter photograph, leaking oil still stains the surrounding water.


Sources include:

Bennett, T, 1987, Shipwrecks around Wales, Vol 1, pp.95-6
Board of Trade Inquiry, number 7946, August 1947
Gater, D, 1992, Historic Shipwrecks of Wales, pp.65-6
Larn and Larn Shipwreck Database 2002
Lloyd's Register Casualty Returns, 1 April - 30 June 1947, p.9 (g)
RCAHMW Aerofilms Collection, C891502
Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping, 1945, number 32759 in S
Rees, P H, 1973, Gower Shipwrecks, pp.17-19
Receiver of Wreck Droits Database 2007 RCIM6/2/5
Sawyer, L A and Mitchell, W H, 1973, The Liberty Ships: The history of the "emergency" type cargo ships constructed in the United States during World War II.
Smith, G, 1991, Shipwrecks of the Bristol Channel, pp.103-7
SS Samtampa, Wreck Site EU
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 (


Maritime Officer, RCAHMW, January 2008.

This record was enhanced in 2020 with funding from Lloyd's Register Foundation as part of the project ‘Making the Link: Lloyd's Register and the National Monuments Record of Wales’. Visit Lloyd’s Register Foundation Heritage and Education Centre for more resources.