1919 Wreck HMY Iolaire is 13th Controlled Site

Protection of Wrecks and what does it mean

HMY Iolaire sank in the early hours of 1st January 1919.

HMY Iolaire, sank in peacetime, transporting personel from the Great War.

The wreck of the ship on which more than 200 returning sailors died has been designated as a war grave. 

This becomes a Controlled Site under the “Protection Of Wrecks Act 1977” and the 13th site designated.

HMY Iolaire

Controlled Site

Controlled sites must be specifically designated by location, where the site contains the remains of an aircraft or a vessel that crashed, sank or was stranded within the last two hundred years. The Act makes it illegal to conduct any operations (including any diving or excavation) within the controlled site that might disturb the remains unless licensed to do so by the Ministry of Defence.

It would be under exceptional circumstances that we, as SISAC Mmembers, may gain permission to dive such sites.

Protected Site

Protected Sites are designated by name and can be designated even if the exact location is not known. Diving on these sites is permitted, but it is an offence to penetrate the wreck, interfere with, disturb or remove anything from the site unless licensed to do so by the Ministry of Defence.

The general rule is to follow the guidelines specified in BSAC “Respect or Wrecks”

HMY Iolaire

His Majesty’s Yacht Iolaire is the worst maritime disaster in the United Kingdom during the 20th Century. With more than 200 lost this amounted to two thirds of the people onboard. HMY Iolaire sank in the early hours of 1st January 1919.

The 58m steam and sail vessel, built in 1881 and named the Iolanthe and later renamed the Amalthaea to become HMY Iolaire, Galic for “Eagle”.

HMY Iolaire was bound for Stornaway harbour when in unusually poor weather she struck rocks only a short distance from shore. Only a mile away from the safety of Stornoway Harbour, she hit the infamous rocks “The Beasts of Holm” and sank. Those on board would have been able to see the lights of Stornoway. Passengers who drowned were dressed in uniform and heavy boots making self rescue difficult. It was not unusual for sailors of the time not to be able to swim, why would they need to.

Following galant efforts by locals to drag victims from the water only 82 of 283 passengers were saved. Virtually a whole generation of young men lost their lives depleting the island population.

Following the backing of Scotlands First Minister Nicola Sturgeon the wreck will be desiganted as a War Grave on 2nd September 2019.

HMY Iolaire is at 11 metres and readily accessible to divers. After 2nd September it will be prohibited to dive this site.

General Sites

There are many sites around the British coastline which are acssesible to all. It doesn’t matter if you are Ocean Diver or First Class Diver there is something interesting to see in the shallows or depths.

Don’t ignore wrecks as dive sites if “Rusty Metal” is not your thing. They are havens for marine life slowly returning the manufactured structures to nature.

We meet on Sunday nights at One Leisure St Ives (the St. Ives Recreation Centre), with theory lessons starting at 6:30PM and the pool is available exclusively for our training from 8:15PM. One Leisure St Ives Recreation Centre Westwood Road, St. Ives Cambs. PE27 6WU.  

Contact us now 01480 708029

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