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Agberi (UKHO 9988)

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Map ReferenceSG94SW
Grid ReferenceSG9332741326
Unitary (Local) AuthorityMaritime
Old CountyMaritime
Type Of SiteWRECK
Period20th Century

The wreck of the AGBERI lies in 94m of water and is orientated 110 (bow)/290 (stern). The wreck is 115m long, lying on its starboard side, and has large scours around it (McCartney, 2022: 199).

The wreck was originally designated by the UKHO as 'Unknown'. Research by Dr Innes McCartney (2022: 199) for the Echoes from the Deep project, following a detailed survey by Bangor University in May 2019, identified the wreck as being dimensionally, positionally, and archivally consistent with the loss of the AGBERI. The record has been updated to reflect that research.

The salvage company, Risdon Beazley Ltd, located the wreck in May 1957. Risdon Beazley managed most of the Admiralty's salvage vessels during World War II and, after the war, they undertook an extensive salvage programme of wartime losses around the UK coast. The wreck was relocated by HMS HECLA in 1969 and examined in 1981 by HMS FAWN.

Event and Historical Information:
The AGBERI was a 4821gt steel-hulled steamship built in Belfast by Workman, Clark and Co Ltd in 1905. Technical and configuration specifications are given as 4821gt; 370ft length (113m) x 49ft breadth x 21ft height; 3 cylinder triple expansion engine; 2 decks; boat deck 98ft; forecastle 48ft; armed with a 1 x 12pdr gun and a 12cwt stern gun; official number 120880, registered Liverpool 68 in 1905; international code HDMC. At the time of loss, the vessel was owned by the Elder Line, Elder Line Limited (Elder Dempster Ltd), Colonial House, 20 Water Street, Liverpool, with John Craig being given as the manager. From 3 September 1915, the ship had been requisitioned for service as an Ammunition Carrier to Northern Russia for the Russian Government. The ship completed four round voyages to the Arctic, also carrying Russian troops to Brest for the Imperial Russian Government. It also acted as a collier (carrying coal). Between June and December 1916, it was sub-chartered to the Hudson's Bay Co. The vessel had been armed with a 12-pounder gun and had two dedicated gunners onboard (M Holdsworth, Able Seaman, and D Hales, Ordinary Seaman, both RNVR).

The ship left Dakar on 8 December 1917 in a convoy led by HMS MOTAGUA heading for Liverpool. The master was Herbert Lamont and the ship was carrying a cargo of 3,500 tons of African produce. On 25 December 1917 the AGBERI was off the coast of North Wales, zig-zagging and traveling at 8 knots, and had posted lookouts in the crow's nest, one on top of the wheelhouse and two officers on the bridge. The torpedo that struck the AGBERI was not seen until it was 40 or 50 yards away. The intelligence collated by the Admiralty gave 3.05pm (other sources 2.45pm) as the approximate time that the ship was attacked by the German submarine U-87 (see NPRNs 240507 and 274776), Commanded by Kapitanleutnant Rudolf von Speth-Schulzburg . The U-boat's torpedo struck midships on the port side, just forward of the bunkers, and the explosion destroyed all the portside lifeboats amidships. The 54 crewmembers and 9 passengers were able to get away in the ship's other lifeboats. The AGEBRI sank at 3.10pm (or 3.30pm sources differ). Those who had been onboard were rescued by patrol vessels and taken to Holyhead. The contemporary loss location was given as 18 miles northwest 1/2 north from Bardsey Island. U-87 (NPRN 274776) was sunk shortly afterward and lies a short distance to the northwest.

Sources include:


Agberi, U-Boat Project: Commemorating the War at Sea

Appropriation Books, Official Numbers 120851 - 120900 (120880)

HMSO, 1998, British Vessels Lost at Sea 1914-18 p.76

Larn and Larn Shipwreck Database 2002

Lloyd's Confidential War Loss Record 1941-18 p.191

Lloyd's Register Casualty Returns, 1 October - 31 December 1917, p.9 (i)

Lloyd's Register of British and Foreign Shipping, 1 July 1915- 30 June 1916, number 316 in A

McCartney, I., 2022. Echoes from the Deep. Leiden: Sidestone Press.

Mercantile Navy List 1910, p.7

Mercantile Navy List 1915, p.8

Requisitioned Auxiliary - Agberi, Historical RFA

Tennant, A J, 1990, British Merchant Ships Sunk by U-Boats in 1914-18 War, p.72

UKHO ID 9988: Contains public sector information, licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0, from UK Hydrographic Office.

J. Whitewright, RCAHMW, December 2023.

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.