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Empire Gunner (UKHO 9873)

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Map ReferenceSM65SE
Grid ReferenceSM6737951820
Unitary (Local) AuthorityMaritime
Old CountyMaritime
Type Of SiteWRECK

The wreck lies in 81m of water and is orientated 210 (bow)/030 (stern). It is 110m in length and 15.4m wide.

The wreck was originally identified by the UKHO as the PORT TOWNSVILLE (NPRN 273242). Research by Dr Innes McCartney (2022: 155) for the Echoes from the Deep project, following a detailed survey by Bangor University in March 2019, concluded that the wreck was too small to be that of the PORT TOWNSVILLE. McCartney identified the wreck as being dimensionally, positionally, and archivally consistent with the loss of the EMPIRE GUNNER, and its record has been updated to reflect that new research.

Event and Historical Information:
The EMPIRE GUNNER was a steel-hulled steamship built by Grangemouth Dockyard Company Ltd in 1906. Technical and configuration specifications are given as 4492gt; 370ft (112m) length x 52ft breadth; screw propulsion powered by four steam boilers linked to triple expansion engine. The ship had begun its service life as the STRATHEARN owned by Burrell & Son, Glasgow, but was sold to General Maritime Trust Ltd in 1919. The ship's name was changed to CONSTANTINOS when it was sold in 1924 to P C Lemos, Greece. PC Lemos changed the ship's name to KOSTANTIS LEMOS in 1925. In 1928, the ship was sold to Constantine & Lemos, Greece and the name changed to DANAOS. In 1939, the ship was sold to Genoa, to Soc.di Nav.Polena, and renamed MOSCARDIN.

On 10 June 1940, the ship was captured at sea and incorporated into the Ministry of War Transport and put into service as the EMPIRE GUNNER. The ship was carrying 6,300tons of iron ore when it was attacked by German aircraft on 6 September 1941 at the southern end of St George's Channel. The ship was abandoned and sank early the next day at 4am. A non-submarine contact, believed to be a rocky outcrop 360ft long and 60ft high, was reported in July 1945 and again in December 1945. HMS BEAGLE confirm the presence of a wreck in May 1980.

Sources include:
Goddard, T, 1983, Pembrokeshire Shipwrecks, pg118

Larn and Larn Shipwreck Database 2002

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

Mitchell, W H and Sawyer, L A, 1990, The Empire Ships (2nd Ed)

UKHO ID 9873: Contains public sector information, licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0, from UK Hydrographic Office.

J. Whitewright, RCAHMW, April 2023