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Gobernador Bories: Burra Sound, Orkney

Steamship (20th Century)

Site Name Gobernador Bories: Burra Sound, Orkney

Classification Steamship (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Gobernador Bories; Gobernador Bories (Ex. Wordsworth)

Canmore ID 102319

Site Number HY20SW 8002

NGR HY 24600 04747

Datum WGS84 - Lat/Long


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Orkney Islands
  • Parish Maritime - Orkney
  • Former Region Orkney Islands Area
  • Former District Maritime
  • Former County Not Applicable

Archaeology Notes

HY20SW 8002 2459 0471

N58 55.4083 W3 18.5833

NLO: Graemsay [name centred HY 25 05]

Stromness [name: HY 253 090]

Scapa Flow [name centred HY 36 00].

For plan indicating the relative locations and orientations of blockships in this group, see Macdonald 1990, 108.

Formerly entered as HY20SW 8860.

For other wrecks in this group, see HY20NW 8001-6 and HY20SW 8001.

Horizontal Datum = OGB

General water depth = 10

Orientation of keel/wreck = NS

Circumstances of Loss Details


The steamship GOBERNADOR BORIES was sunk as a blockship.

Surveying Details


1926. A dangerous wreck is reported at 58 55 25N, 003 18 33W. It is completely submerged with a least depth of 5.4 metres over it. The davits show at low water.

21 July 1988. The hull is broken up, but the stern is intact.

Source; Ferguson 1985

The site is charted as a dangerous wreck with a least depth of 3 metres. It is 87 metres long, and the keel is orientated 000/180 degrees. The wreck is centred on 58 55 24.5N, 003 18 35W.

(authority not stated)

Hydrographic Office, 1995.

(Classifed as iron steamship: no cargo specified, but former name cited as Wordsworth, and date of loss as 12 October 1914). Gobernador Bories: this vessel was sunk as a blockship in Burra Sound.

Registration: Punta Arenas. Built 1882. 2332grt. Length: 87m. Beam: 12m.

(Location of loss cited as N58 55.42 W3 18.55).

I G Whittaker 1998.

The Blockships of Burra Sound. The GOBERNADOR BORIES sits on her keel at a depth of 17.3m in a setting of rocks and pure white sand. She has a list to starbaord. With visibility at 15m you can see large sections of the wreck. her bow and starboard side are virtually intact, and inside the water is calm. Amidst the vessel's boilers lies a mass of tangled decking and struts a blaze of colour from marine life. The stern retains its original shape.

Source: Diver Magazine [unstated year] 28.

Material reported under RoW amnesty (2001):

A3723 1 oil box lid (20 x 10cm): from seabed.

NMRS, MS/829/35.

Length: 87m

Beam: 11m

GRT: 2332

This ship (formerly the Wordsworth) was built in 1882 by W Gray and Co., West Hartlepool and served for some years as a whaling ship [presumably a factory vessel] based at Punta Arenas, near Cape Horn. A two-cylinder compound engine of 224hp and a two boilers powered a single screw. The ship had two decks and five bulkheads. The poop, boat deck and forecastle measured 26ft (7.9m), 56ft (17.1m) and 30ft (9.1m) in length respectively.

She was sunk as a blockship in 1915, being one of the first blockships to be set in place; neither a published photograph nor any other details of the service or commercial history of the ship are apparently available. The wreck has not been dispersed by explosives, remains substantially intact (although lacking her superstructure), and is regularly visited by sport divers. Both bow and stern apparently remain well-defined, and many fittings remain in place.

The major identifiable features comprise the boilers, engine and related fittings. The steering mechanism is also to be seen.

Burra Sound forms a narrow gap between Hoy Skerries (to the SW) and the island of Graemsay. Several wrecks are charted in a general depth of between 5 and 12m; the sound is subject to pronounced tidal flows.

(The Diver article cited contains a comprehensive description of the remains).

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 4 October 2002.

R and B Larn 1998; I G Whittaker 1998; Diver 2000.

HO chart 35 (1991).

Length: 286 ft (87.2m): date of sinking 12 October 1914.

'Unballasted. Completely submerged. Three fathoms over her at L.W. Davits visible.' (Report dated 28 June 1915).

The accompanying map depicts the vessel in outline as lying well to the S of the main group, in the centre of the sound, and with bows towards the N. The accompanying panoramic sketch (dated 8 December 1915) omits this ship.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 30 January 2004.

PRO [Kew] ADM116/2073A: dated 17 December 1919.


Desk Based Assessment (August 1997)

Throughout the two World Wars Scapa Flow served as the base of the British Home Fleet. Access to these waters was guarded by a series of coastal batteries, booms and blockships. The blockships comprised old and damaged vessels which were deliberately sunk in position so as to form a submarine obstacle to deter enemy incursions. After 1945 some of the blockships were dispersed by explosives to clear the shipping lanes while many others were salvaged for parts and metal. The wrecks of several blockships remain on the sea bed and in the intertidal zone.

(i) [HY20SW 8002] The Gobernador Bories, a 2,332 ton iron steamer, was built in 1882 at West Hartlepool. She was sunk in Burra Sound in 1915. She lies S of Hoy Skerries and is relatively intact.

(ii) [HY20SW 8001] The Ronda was built in 1889 in Sunderland and was sunk in 1914. She was a steel single-screw 1,941 ton steamer. She was dispersed with explosives in 1962.

(iii) [HY20NW 8005] Built in Glasgow in 1882, the 2,252 steel single-screw steamer, Budrie, was sunk in 1915. She was dispersed with explosives in 1962.

(iv) [HY20NW 8003] The Rotherfield was a 2,831 ton steel single-screw steamer. Built in West Hartlepool in 1889, she was sunk in Burra Sound in 1914. She was dispersed with explosives in 1962.

(v) [HY20NW 8004] A 3,423 ton steel single-screw steamer, the Urmstone Grange, was built in Belfast in 1894 and was sunk in 1914. She was dispersed with explosives in 1962.

(vi) [HY20NW 8003] Built in 1938 in Germany, the 8,900 ton tanker Inverlane was holed by a mine off South Shields in 1939. She was patched up, towed to Burra Sound and, there, sunk as a blockship in 1944. She remains relatively intact and her bows are clearly visible, rising from the waters to the S of Hoy Skerries.

(vii) [HY20NW 8006] The Tarbraka was a single-screw steamer of 2,624 tons. Built in Rotterdam in 1909, she was captured by the Royal Navy in 1940 and was sunk as a blockship, initially in Kirk Sound. At the completion of Churchill Barrier 1, the Tarbraka was re-floated and sunk in Burra Sound in 1944. She now lies, upside down, in 12m of water to the S of Hoy Skerries.

(viii) [HY20SW 8001] The 1,761 ton single-screw steamer the Doyle, built in Troon in 1907, was sunk in 1940. She lies relatively intact beneath 15m of water.

Reference (2011)

Whittaker ID : 1151


Latitude : 585525

Longitude : 31833

Date Built : 1882

Registration : PUNTA ARENAS

Type : SS (IRON)

Tonnage : 2332

Tonnage Code : G

Length : 87

Beam : 12

Draught : 8m

Position : Exact Position

Loss Day : 12

Loss Month : 10

Loss Year : 1914

Comment : Sunk as blockship in Burra Snd

Reference (19 April 2012)

UKHO Identifier : 001095

Feature Class : Wreck

Wreck Category : Dangerous wreck

State : LIVE

Classification : Unclassified

Position (Lat/long) : 58.92335,-3.31125

Horizontal Datum : ETRS 1989

WGS84 Position (Lat/long) : 58.92335,-3.31125

WGS84 Origin : Original

Previous Position : 58.92308,-3.31118

Position Method : Differential Global Positioning System

Position Quality : Surveyed

Position Accuracy : 3.0

Depth : 5.2

Depth Method : Found by multi-beam

Depth Quality : Least depth known

Water Depth : 12

Water Level Effect : Always under water/submerged

Vertical Datum : Mean Low Water Springs


Type : SS

Flag : CHILE

Length : 87.2

Beam : 11.0

Draught : 7.4

Sonar Length : 96.0

Sonar Width : 20.0

Shadow Height : 9.0

Orientation : 81.0

Tonnage : 2332

Tonnage Type : Gross

Date Sunk : 12/10/1914

Sonar Signal Strength : Strong

Scour Depth : 0.0

Debris Field : NIL

Contact Description : Entire wreck

Original Sensor : None reported

Project (March 2012)

Excerpt from the report:


Archaeological Interpretation of Multibeam data and Desk-Based Assessment

WA Ref: 83680.03


WA Coastal and Marine was commissioned by Historic Scotland to provide highresolution multibeam bathymetry data targeted on a number of wreck sites in Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. The list of targets were provided by Historic Scotland, ordered by priority, based on the importance of the wreck and the lack of prior survey at each site. Scapa Flow is a large natural harbour in the southern part of the Orkney Islands in

the North of Scotland, which served as Britain’s main naval base during WWI and WWII. Its waters hold Scotland’s highest concentrations of shipwrecks. Although some of the wrecks in Scapa Flow have previously been the subject of highresolution multibeam surveys there remain a number of important sites which had only previously been covered by low-resolution data acquisition or not covered at all.

WA Coastal & Marine conducted an archaeological assessment of the multibeam data and a Desk-Based Assessment (DBA) of the wreck sites it covered in order to enhance the historic environment record with respect to these sites and to support Historic Scotland’s work on the Scottish Marine Protected Areas Project. Through a thorough review of published and online material relating to the wrecks thought to be in the vicinity of Scapa Flow it has been possible to produce a detailed discussion of these sites in almost every case and also to clarify a number of conflicting sources. This has enabled us to state with certainty the exact location of

each targeted wreck from the multibeam survey, in some cases for the first time. In addition a thorough review of published material and diver accounts has enabled an informed analysis of features visible at each wreck site. The importance of these wreck sites can now be placed within their national and, in some cases, internationalcontexts.

A total of 18 wrecks were surveyed and assessed over the course this project. 16 of have been identified. The two remaining unidentified wrecks are both located in Burra Sound and are isolated pieces of wreck material, which may be associated with recorded losses in the area. The positions of all 16 identified wrecks have been improved, in some cases by over 100 metres. The survey has also greatly aided in understanding the relative positions of the wrecks to each other. The project has also highlighted discrepancies between some diver reports and observed details in the survey data, such as the structural details of some wrecks.'

Information also reported in Oasis (waherita1-136288) 18 June 2013

Reference (March 2012)

Sitename : Gobernador Bories

Note : Wreck of the Gobernador Bories located at NGR 324600E 1004747N. The remains visible in the MBES survey have a length of 104 metres on a W-E orientation with a width of 21 metres.

Sources :

SeaZone Hydrospatial OSGB36 Wrecks point,SeaZone,2010

Burra Sound at 2m resolution in WGS1984 Bathymetry id 2010-27833_ScapaFlowMain_Burra_2m_SB_WGS84.bag


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