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Helena Faulbaums: Belnahua, Sound Of Luing

Steamship (20th Century)

Site Name Helena Faulbaums: Belnahua, Sound Of Luing

Classification Steamship (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Firpark; Muiarg; Helena Fahlbaums; Luing Island; Firth Of Lorn; Helena Faulbaums; Helena Faulbaums (Ex. Firpark)

Canmore ID 102565

Site Number NM71SW 8001

NGR NM 71150 12980

Datum WGS84 - Lat/Long

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/102565

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
© Copyright and database right 2017.

Administrative Areas

  • Council Argyll And Bute
  • Parish Maritime - Argyll And Bute
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Maritime
  • Former County Not Applicable

Archaeology Notes

NM71SW 8001 7113 1298

N56 15.25 W5 41.7

NLO: Belnahua [name: NM 713 127]

Sound of Luing [name centred NM 721 099]

Firth of Lorn [name centred NM 69 19].

Formerly entered as Site no. 9194.

Steamship HELENA FAULBAUMS, of Riga. Master, Cugans. Bound from Liverpool to Blyth. Lost 26 Oct 1936. Island of Belnahua, 1 mile from Fladda Lighthouse. Westerly gale & heavy sea. Cause of wreck, steering gear not working. 15 lost, 4 saved. Vessel in ballast.

[Contemporary] source: Lightkeeper, Fladda Lighthouse.

LATVIAN STEAMER SINKS IN GALE. Leaving in its wake a terrible tale of tragedy and havoc, one of the worst gales in living memory swept over the west coast of Scotland on Monday night. The Latvian steamer HELENA FAULBAUMS, 1188 tons was wrecked on the island of Belnahua [name: NM 713 128] in the Firth of Lorne with the loss of 15 members of the crew. There were only 4 survivors who were picked up by the Islay lifeboat. Trawlers and other shipping which were caught at sea in the height of the storm limped into port on Tuesday, battered by the high winds and teriffic seas. The first news of the shipping disaster in the Firth of Lorne came late on Monday night when indistinct SOS signals were picked up from a steamer in distress somewhere off the coast of Mull. She said she was drifting helplessly at the mercy of the gale, and asked for immediate assistance. Later came the message that she had gone aground, and from her position it appears as if she has struck the rocks near the Isles of the Sea. As all communication with Islay and other lifeboat stations had been interrupted by the storm, the BBC were asked to send out a message requesting anyone who heard it to communicate with the nearest lifeboat station. The Port Askaig lifeboat later picked up the SOS and immediately set off for the Firth of Lorne. Two trawlers, believed to have been the FOSS and the SHELBY, were also reported to have gone to her assistance, but it is doubtful if they ever reached the steamer.

Meanwhile the SOS signals from the steamer itself had ceased, and just as dawn was breaking, the body of a seaman was washed ashore at Cullipool, on the west of the island of Luing. It was found by villagers who had gone down to the shore to watch the storm. Around the body was a lifebelt telling the name of the ship, HELENA FAULBAUMS, registered at Riga. Close to the shore, tossing in the wild seas could be seen several other lifebelts telling their own mournful tale of death by drowning. Two other bodies were washed ashore further along the Luing coast at Port Mary, but it was impossible to recover the others on account of the seas that were running. Opposite Cullipool, the shore was littered with wreckage of lifebelts, spars, hatch covers and other gear. Of the steamer itself there was no trace.

To those on shore it did not seem conceivable that anyone of the 19 members of the HELENA FAULBAUMS could have survived the relentless seas which pounded the rocky coast of Luing the previous night. It was so bad that the villagers at Cullipool could hardly open their doors on account of the wind. Spray and rain were described as like showers of gravel beating against the houses. No-one on the island had heard or seen any signals of a ship in distress. Then, when all hope had been abandoned of finding any survivors of the wreck, a message came from Crinan stating that the Port Askaig lifeboat had put in there with 4 members of the crew of the HELENA FAULBAUMS, which she had picked up from the island of Belnahua opposite Cullipool. After battling her way through teriffic seas, the crew of the lifeboat had reached the Isles of the Sea at dawn. At first they could see no sign of the HELENA FAULBAUMS or her crew, but after cruising about for some time, they had seen signals coming from the west shore of Belnahua. The seas were too rough to attempt a landing, but standing off the island some little way, they fired a lifeline which was picked up by those ashore, and they were taken aboard by means of a lifebuoy. There were only 4 survivors out of a crew of 19. After searching for some time along the coast, the Port Askaig boat turned about and ran for Crinan, where the 4 members of the HELENA FAULBAUMS crew were put ashore.

The HELENA FAULBAUMS had come out of Liverpool in ballast after discharging a cargo of timber, and was bound for Blyth to coal, round the north passage. The ship's carpenter, Karl Kalnin said: About 7 o'clock on the Monday night, the storm struck the ship while we were in the firth. The seas were so high and the vessel so light, and the screw was seldom in the water that we were hardly making headway, the the steering went. We knew we were doomed as we began to drift by the beam on to the rocks. She bagan pounding then slipped off and began to settle by the stern. We though about using the boats but saw it was hopeless. The Captain told every man to fend for himself. Guys were slung over the side and men began to scramble over. Some of them jumped for the rocks and others slipped into the water from the ropes. As I jumped, the water closed over me and crashed me against a small rock. I clutched and hung on. Then another wave pushed me further inshore and my feet touched the ground. When I looked back, the ship had gone. What became of the others in that terrible minute or two I do not know.

With tears in his eyes, Kalnin told of the heroism of the young wireless operator who remained at his post and went down with the ship. The last I saw of him, said Kalnin, was shortly before we abandoned the ship. As I was scrambling over the side to take my chance in the water, I saw him still in his cabin, tapping away for help. The body of the wireless operator was one of the first to be washed ashore on the Luing coast.

After I got my breath, I began to crawl over the rocks and to my surprise, crawled up to the doorway of a house. It was uninhabited, but there were some old blankets lying about and I rolled myself in them and lay down exhausted. Shortly afterwards I was joined by the 3rd engineer and by a seaman.

The story of how the three shipwrecked seamen built a fire when washed ashore is one of ingenuity and resourcefulness.

Source: Oban Times, 31 October 1936.

Horizontal Datum = OGB

General water depth = 36

Orientation of keel/wreck = 332/152

Circumstances of Loss Details

-----------------------------

The HELENA FAULBAUMS's anchor dragged while off the west side of Belnahua in a westerley gale. It went ashore on the west side of the island and later sank back into deep water.

Sources: Dictionary of Disasters at Sea, letter from P J Moir.

Surveying Details

-----------------------------

The wreck lies close to Belnahua, near Luing Island, in deep water (about 53 metres). The site was not dived upon, but appears to be intact from echosounder traces and is possibly upright. The vessel lies in a deep gulley. The least depth is about 120 feet.

Report by P L Sellars, 17 February 1975.

21 September 1987. The wreck lies in the position quoted on an even keel and orientated 332/152 degrees. The bow is to the NW. The vessel is largely intact, although the bridge has substantially collapsed. It lies in a general depth of 58 to 62 metres. The shoalest depth recorded (by diver) was 47 metres (low water spring tides) to the top of engine casing. The masts have collapsed. The close proximity of a shallow reef makes the wreck no hazard to navigation.

Report by G Hide, Edinburgh.

Hydrographic Office, 1995.

(Classified as steamship, in ballast: former name cited as Firpark, and date of loss as 26 October 1936). Helena Faulbaums: this vessel stranded on Muiarg, then slipped back into deep water. Capt. Zughaus.

Registration: Riga. Built 1920. 1951grt. Length: 84m. Beam: 13m.

(Location of loss cited as N56 15.30 W5 41.77).

I G Whittaker 1998.

Material reported under RoW amnesty (2001):

A016 1 steering binnacle, c. 1.3, tall, brass, stamped 'Carron Company Stirlingshire' (found on seabed).

NMRS, MS/829/32.

Material reported under RoW amnesty (2001):

A278 1 porthole (no. 38) with glass intact, remains of brass cigaretee lighter (found on seabed).

NMRS, MS/829/33.

Material reported under RoW amnesty (2001):

A2191 1 brass door latch

A2741 1 sink fitting, 4 bottles: from seabed

A3060 1 cup

A4129 1 telegraph handle: from seabed.

NMRS, MS/829/35.

Activities

Reference (2011)

Whittaker ID : 355

Name : HELENA FAULBAUMS (EX. FIRPARK)

Latitude : 561518

Longitude : 54146

Date Built : 1920

Registration : RIGA

Type : SS

Tonnage : 1951

Tonnage Code : G

Length : 84

Beam : 13

Draught : 6m

Position : Position Approximate

Loss Day : 26

Loss Month : 10

Loss Year : 1936

Comment : Stranded on Muiarg, slipped off into deep water. Capt. Zughaus

Cargo : BALLAST

Reference (19 April 2012)

UKHO Identifier : 002692

Feature Class : Wreck

Wreck Category : Non-dangerous wreck

State : LIVE

Classification : Unclassified

Position (Lat/long) : 56.25403,-5.69608

Horizontal Datum : ETRS 1989

WGS84 Position (Lat/long) : 56.25403,-5.69608

WGS84 Origin : Block Shift

Previous Position : 56.25417,-5.69500

Position Quality : Precisely known

Depth : 44.0

Depth Method : Found by diver

Depth Quality : Depth known

Water Depth : 60

Water Level Effect : Always under water/submerged

Vertical Datum : Mean Low Water Springs

Name : HELENA FAULBAUMS

Type : SS

Flag : LATVIAN

Length : 85.3

Beam : 12.8

Draught : 5.8

Orientation : 152.0

Tonnage : 1951

Tonnage Type : Gross

Date Sunk : 26/10/1936

Contact Description : Entire wreck

Original Sensor : Acoustic Sensor

Last Sensor : Diver Sighting

Original Detection Year : 1975

Last Detection Year : 1987

Original Source : Other

Last Source : Divers

Circumstances of Loss : **EX-FIRPARK '32. BUILT IN 1920 BY GRANGEMOUTH DOCKYARD CO LTD, GRANGEMOUTH. OWNED AT TIME OF LOSS BY MAX FAULBAUMS. TWO BOILERS, TRIPLE EXPANSION ENGINE OF 280 NHP, SINGLE SHAFT. MACHINERY BY COUPER & GREIG LTD, DUNDEE. PASSAGE LIVERPOOL FOR BLYTH. DRAGGED ANCHOR WHILE OFF W SIDE OF BELNAHUA IN W'LY GALE. WENT ASHORE ON W SIDE OF ISLAND AND LATER SANK BACK INTO DEEP WATER. 15 OF 20 CREW LOST. (SIBI).

Surveying Details : **20.2.75 LIES CLOSE TO BELNAHUA, NEAR LUING ISLAND, IN DEEP WATER, ABOUT 175FT. NOT DIVED ON, BUT APPEARS TO BE INTACT FROM E/S TRACES AND POSSIBLY UPRIGHT. IN A DEEP GULLEY WITH LEAST DEPTH OF ABOUT 120FT. (P L SELLARS, 17.2.75). NCA YET.

**H1310/87/36 21.9.87 LIES IN POSN QUOTED ON EVEN KEEL AND ORIENTATED 332/152DEG, BOW NW. LARGELY INTACT, THOUGH BRIDGE HAS SUBSTANTIALLY COLLAPSED. LIES IN GEN DEPTH 58-62MTRS. SHOALEST DEPTH RECORDED BY DIVER 47MTRS [LWS] TO TOP OF ENGINE CASING. MASTS HAVE COLLAPSED. CLOSE PROXIMITY OF SHALLOW REEF MAKES WK NO HAZARD. (G HIDE, EDINBURGH).

**18.5.92 INS AS NDW. NE 2386.

POSITIONS BELOW THIS POINT ARE IN DEGREES, MINUTES AND DECIMALS OF A MINUTE

**17.5.04 RECORD REVIEWED. AMEND WK 44MTRS. BR STD.

**7.10.06 EUT POSN: 5615.242N, 0541.765W. NE 2386.

General Comments : UPRIGHT, INTACT, BOWS NW IN A DEEP GULLY

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