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Hms Dasher: Firth Of Clyde

Aircraft Carrier (20th Century), Escort Vessel

Site Name Hms Dasher: Firth Of Clyde

Classification Aircraft Carrier (20th Century), Escort Vessel

Alternative Name(s) Rio De Janeiro; Holy Island; Arran; Bruchag Point; Little Cumbrae Island; Outer Clyde Estuary; Hms Dasher; Hms Dasher (Ex. Rio De Janiero)

Canmore ID 102679

Site Number NS14SW 8004

NGR NS 10233 41410

Datum WGS84 - Lat/Long

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/102679

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

Administrative Areas

  • Council North Ayrshire
  • Parish Maritime - North Ayrshire
  • Former Region Strathclyde
  • Former District Maritime
  • Former County Not Applicable

Archaeology Notes

NS14SW 8004 1023 4141

N55 37.75 W5 00.8833

NLO: Holy Island [name: NS 06 30]

Great Cumbrae Island [name centred NS 17 57]

Little Cumbrae Island [name centred NS 14 51]

Isle of Arran [name centred NR 95 35].

Formerly entered as Site no's 1 and 9311.

Quality of fix = EDM

Evidence = Echo sounder

Horizontal Datum = OGB

General water depth = 142

Orientation of keel/wreck = EW

Circumstances of Loss Details

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

The escort aircraft carrier, HMS DASHER, sank following a petrol fire and explosion, thought to have been caused initially by an aircraft attempting to land on the carrier.

Source; Dictionary of Disasters at Sea.

HMS DASHER was an archer-class carrier converted from a C-3 merchant vessel in the USA. She was transferred to the Royal Navy on a 'lend-lease'.

Surveying Details

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

12 January 1944. The wreck's position is given as 55 38 00N, 004 57 00W. Or 5 miles south of little Cumbrae Island.

17 January 1969. A large wreck was located on a steep slope. The least echossounder depth was 125.5 metres in a general depth of 142 metres. The decca position of [n. brit] red d 23.30 [-0.05], purple i 74.53 [-0.23], gives 55 37 37N, 005 00 49W. The site was surveyed on 27 May 1968.

Report by HMS HYDRA, 11 October 1968.

25 February 1976. The wreck was not detected by side scan sonar in area search. No close search of the stated position was undertaken. the wreck definitely does not project to within 100 metres of the surface.

Report by HMS HECLA, 6 February 1976.

16 April 1982. The large wreck mentioned above is positively identified as the wreck of HMS DASHER. It lies upright in 170 metres, with the flight deck intact at 140 metres.

Report by Naval party 1007, MV Seaforth Clansman, 23 MArch 1982.

17 April 1984. The least depth by echosounder was 95 metres in 55 37 44N, 005 00 55W.

Report by HMS BEAGLE, March 1984.

13 May 1985. The site was examined on 25 March 1984 at 55 37 45N, 005 00 53W or decca [n. brit] red d 23.4, purple i 74.8. The least echosounder depth was 94 in a general depth of 142 metres. A scour 8 metres deep was observed. The side scan sonar indicated a height of 38 metres, and a length of 160 metres (525 feet) approximately. The wreck is apparently upright, lying with its keel orientated 090/270 degrees and with a raised bridge towards the west end. Several small contacts were located around the main wreck.

Report by HMS BEAGLE.

Hydrographic Office, 1995.

(Proposed for designation as a Controlled Site under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986). The escort aircraft carrier HMS Dasher was destroyed by internal explosion in the Firth of Clyde on 27 March 1943. While engaged in deck landing operation training the Dasher suffered an aviation gasoline explosion as a result of which she sank within three minutes. No absolute cause was determined at the time.

The normal complement of the vessel was 520; she sank with the loss of 379 lives.

Information from MOD (Military Maritime Graves consultation) per Mr I Oxley (Historic Scotland), 7 February 2002.

The loss of HMS Dasher with 379 lives on 27 March 1943 remained undisclosed until 1945 but was second only, in home waters, to that of HMS Royal Oak among British warship losses in the Second World War. The wreck lies midway between Brodick (Arran) and Ardrossan (five miles south of Little Cumbrae).

HMS Dasher was the fourth of six 'fighter carriers' (commonly termed 'Woolworth carriers') ordered under lease-lend on 29 April 1942. A second ship (HMS Avenger) of this class was lost in November following a massive explosion caused by a single torpedo hit. This class of ship was based around a standard (C3) hull of merchant ship type, and HMS Dasher was converted from the MS Rio de Janeiro, which was built and converted for the carriage of bananas by the Sun Shipbuilding Company of Hoboken, USA. Conversion was carried out by Tietsen and Laird, also of Hoboken, and completed on 1 July 1942. As converted, the basic dimensions of the ship were: length overall 492ft (150m), flight deck length 410ft (125m) and mean draught 26ft (7.9m). A single Sun Droxford diesel engine of 8500 shp gave a nominal speed of 16kts and a single aircraft lift served the hangar that occupied about half the length of the ship. An H2 accelerator [catapult] was fitted but was compatible only with American types of aircraft.

The ship did not sail for Britain immediately on completion but was held at Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York, until mid-August pending rectification of mechanical defects. Further modifications (mainly related to fuel supply and magazine safety) were carried out at Greenock before the ship sailed for Operation Torch (the allied landing at Oran). On return from North Africa, further modifications were carried out at Liverpool before the ship sailed for Murmansk with convoy JW53 on 15 February 1943. The ship left this convoy for temporary repairs in sheltered Icelandic waters after severe weather caused structural damage (including weld failure below the waterline) and the loss or destruction of all her aircraft. The welding was permanently repaired at the Caledon yard, Dundee, in March 1943 before the ship sailed for the Clyde.

At the time of the disaster, the ship was heading up the Clyde to enter Greenock and carried two Sea Hurricanes and eight Swordfish; two of the latter were being refuelled following deck landing practice. The ship's fuel tanks contained 75,000 gallons (340,947 litres) of aviation fuel, and there were six torpedoes and 104 depth charges on board. Two massive explosions aft threw the lift into the air and caused the immediate loss of main engine and electrical power (including lighting). Attempts to fight the fires proved unsuccessful and the ship was abandoned, 149 survivors being recovered to Ardrossan and Greenock. The ship sank at 4.48pm, six minutes after the first explosion.

Although there were initial rumours that the loss was caused by enemy mine or torpedo, the Court of Enquiry held three days later revealed no evidence for an external cause of the explosion, which was seen as being caused by the ignition of petrol vapour. The inadequate safety provisions in ships of this class were noted and numerous detailed amendments to standard operating procedures were proposed. These included the reduction by half of the quantity of aviation fuel carried and the fitting of asbestos fire curtains within the hangar, in accordance with British practice.

Information from Mr J Steele, 12 July 2002.

J Steele 1995.

(Classified as escort carrier: former name cited as Rio de Janeiro, and date of loss as 27 March 1943). HMS Dasher: fire and explosion, vessel sank.

Registration: London. Built 1941. 8200 tons displacement. Length: 140m. Beam: 20m.

(Location of loss cited as N55 37.62 W5 0.82).

I G Whittaker 1998.

This wreck has been designated a Controlled Site under the Protection of Military Remains ACT (PMRA), 1986.

(Comprehensive list of Controlled Sites in article).

Source: Stuart Bryan in Nautical Archaeology, 2001.3, p. 12.

NMRS, MS/2745.

Neither plans nor photographs of this vessel are held in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Information from Ms G Fabri (NMM), 7 November 2003.

Listed as Designated controlled site under PMRA 1986.

(Area within 200m distance around N55 37.747 W5 00.953).

MS/5253.

Activities

Loss (27 March 1943)

(Proposed for designation as a Controlled Site under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986). The escort aircraft carrier HMS Dasher was destroyed by internal explosion in the Firth of Clyde on 27 March 1943. While engaged in deck landing operation training the Dasher suffered an aviation gasoline explosion as a result of which she sank within three minutes. No absolute cause was determined at the time.

The normal complement of the vessel was 520; she sank with the loss of 379 lives.

Information from MOD (Military Maritime Graves consultation) per Mr I Oxley (Historic Scotland), 7 February 2002.

The loss of HMS Dasher with 379 lives on 27 March 1943 remained undisclosed until 1945 but was second only, in home waters, to that of HMS Royal Oak among British warship losses in the Second World War. The wreck lies midway between Brodick (Arran) and Ardrossan (five miles south of Little Cumbrae).

HMS Dasher was the fourth of six 'fighter carriers' (commonly termed 'Woolworth carriers') ordered under lease-lend on 29 April 1942. A second ship (HMS Avenger) of this class was lost in November following a massive explosion caused by a single torpedo hit. This class of ship was based around a standard (C3) hull of merchant ship type, and HMS Dasher was converted from the MS Rio de Janeiro, which was built and converted for the carriage of bananas by the Sun Shipbuilding Company of Hoboken, USA. Conversion was carried out by Tietsen and Laird, also of Hoboken, and completed on 1 July 1942. As converted, the basic dimensions of the ship were: length overall 492ft (150m), flight deck length 410ft (125m) and mean draught 26ft (7.9m). A single Sun Droxford diesel engine of 8500 shp gave a nominal speed of 16kts and a single aircraft lift served the hangar that occupied about half the length of the ship. An H2 accelerator [catapult] was fitted but was compatible only with American types of aircraft.

The ship did not sail for Britain immediately on completion but was held at Brooklyn Navy Yard, New York, until mid-August pending rectification of mechanical defects. Further modifications (mainly related to fuel supply and magazine safety) were carried out at Greenock before the ship sailed for Operation Torch (the allied landing at Oran). On return from North Africa, further modifications were carried out at Liverpool before the ship sailed for Murmansk with convoy JW53 on 15 February 1943. The ship left this convoy for temporary repairs in sheltered Icelandic waters after severe weather caused structural damage (including weld failure below the waterline) and the loss or destruction of all her aircraft. The welding was permanently repaired at the Caledon yard, Dundee, in March 1943 before the ship sailed for the Clyde.

At the time of the disaster, the ship was heading up the Clyde to enter Greenock and carried two Sea Hurricanes and eight Swordfish; two of the latter were being refuelled following deck landing practice. The ship's fuel tanks contained 75,000 gallons (340,947 litres) of aviation fuel, and there were six torpedoes and 104 depth charges on board. Two massive explosions aft threw the lift into the air and caused the immediate loss of main engine and electrical power (including lighting). Attempts to fight the fires proved unsuccessful and the ship was abandoned, 149 survivors being recovered to Ardrossan and Greenock. The ship sank at 4.48pm, six minutes after the first explosion.

Although there were initial rumours that the loss was caused by enemy mine or torpedo, the Court of Enquiry held three days later revealed no evidence for an external cause of the explosion, which was seen as being caused by the ignition of petrol vapour. The inadequate safety provisions in ships of this class were noted and numerous detailed amendments to standard operating procedures were proposed. These included the reduction by half of the quantity of aviation fuel carried and the fitting of asbestos fire curtains within the hangar, in accordance with British practice.

Information from Mr J Steele, 12 July 2002.

J Steele 1995.

(Classified as escort carrier: former name cited as Rio de Janeiro, and date of loss as 27 March 1943). HMS Dasher: fire and explosion, vessel sank.

Registration: London. Built 1941. 8200 tons displacement. Length: 140m. Beam: 20m.

(Location of loss cited as N55 37.62 W5 0.82).

I G Whittaker 1998.

Evidence Of Loss (1995)

Quality of fix = EDM

Evidence = Echo sounder

Horizontal Datum = OGB

General water depth = 142

Orientation of keel/wreck = EW

Circumstances of Loss Details

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

The escort aircraft carrier, HMS DASHER, sank following a petrol fire and explosion, thought to have been caused initially by an aircraft attempting to land on the carrier.

Source; Dictionary of Disasters at Sea.

HMS DASHER was an archer-class carrier converted from a C-3 merchant vessel in the USA. She was transferred to the Royal Navy on a 'lend-lease'.

Surveying Details

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

12 January 1944. The wreck's position is given as 55 38 00N, 004 57 00W. Or 5 miles south of little Cumbrae Island.

17 January 1969. A large wreck was located on a steep slope. The least echossounder depth was 125.5 metres in a general depth of 142 metres. The decca position of [n. brit] red d 23.30 [-0.05], purple i 74.53 [-0.23], gives 55 37 37N, 005 00 49W. The site was surveyed on 27 May 1968.

Report by HMS HYDRA, 11 October 1968.

25 February 1976. The wreck was not detected by side scan sonar in area search. No close search of the stated position was undertaken. the wreck definitely does not project to within 100 metres of the surface.

Report by HMS HECLA, 6 February 1976.

16 April 1982. The large wreck mentioned above is positively identified as the wreck of HMS DASHER. It lies upright in 170 metres, with the flight deck intact at 140 metres.

Report by Naval party 1007, MV Seaforth Clansman, 23 MArch 1982.

17 April 1984. The least depth by echosounder was 95 metres in 55 37 44N, 005 00 55W.

Report by HMS BEAGLE, March 1984.

13 May 1985. The site was examined on 25 March 1984 at 55 37 45N, 005 00 53W or decca [n. brit] red d 23.4, purple i 74.8. The least echosounder depth was 94 in a general depth of 142 metres. A scour 8 metres deep was observed. The side scan sonar indicated a height of 38 metres, and a length of 160 metres (525 feet) approximately. The wreck is apparently upright, lying with its keel orientated 090/270 degrees and with a raised bridge towards the west end. Several small contacts were located around the main wreck.

Report by HMS BEAGLE.

Hydrographic Office, 1995.

External Reference (2001)

This wreck has been designated a Controlled Site under the Protection of Military Remains ACT (PMRA), 1986.

(Comprehensive list of Controlled Sites in article).

Source: Stuart Bryan in Nautical Archaeology, 2001.3, p. 12.

NMRS, MS/2745.

External Reference (7 November 2003)

Neither plans nor photographs of this vessel are held in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Information from Ms G Fabri (NMM), 7 November 2003.

External Reference (1 April 2008)

Listed as Designated controlled site under PMRA 1986.

(Area within 200m distance around N55 37.747 W5 00.953).

MS/5253.

Reference (2011)

Whittaker ID : 290

Name : HMS DASHER (EX. RIO DE JANIERO)

Latitude : 553737

Longitude : 50049

Date Built : 1941

Registration : LONDON

Type : ESCORT CARRIER

Tonnage : 8200

Tonnage Code : D

Length : 140

Beam : 20

Draught : 9m

Position : Exact Position

Loss Day : 27

Loss Month : 3

Loss Year : 1943

Comment : Fire and explosion, vessel sank

Reference (19 April 2012)

UKHO Identifier : 003936

Feature Class : Wreck

Wreck Category : Non-dangerous wreck

State : LIVE

Status : Historic

Classification : Unclassified

Position (Lat/long) : 55.62912,-5.01588

Horizontal Datum : ETRS 1989

WGS84 Position (Lat/long) : 55.62912,-5.01588

WGS84 Origin : Original

Previous Position : 55.62917,-5.01472

Position Method : Electronic Distance Measuring System

Position Quality : Surveyed

Position Accuracy : 13.0

Depth : 124.0

Depth Method : Found by multi-beam

Depth Quality : Least depth known

Water Depth : 142

Water Level Effect : Always under water/submerged

Vertical Datum : Lowest Astronomical Tide

Name : HMS DASHER

Type : ESCORT AIRCRAFT CARRIER

Flag : BRITISH

Length : 150.0

Beam : 20.1

Draught : 7.0

Sonar Length : 150.0

Shadow Height : 38.0

Orientation : 90.0

Tonnage : 13785

Tonnage Type : Displacement

Date Sunk : 27/03/1943

Scour Depth : 8.0

Debris Field : AROUND MAIN WK

Contact Description : Entire wreck

Original Sensor : Reported Sinking

Last Sensor : Acoustic Sensor

Note (19 July 2012)

A memorial to those who died aboard HMS Dasher has been built in Ardrossan, see NS24SW 263.

Information from RCAHMS (LMcC) 19th July 2012

Desk Based Assessment (27 November 2014)

The HMS Dasher was built by the Sun Shipbuilding Co., Hoboken, USA (Moir and Crawford 2004: 94).

Information from Sally Evans (Cotswold Archaeology), 27/11/2014.

Project (October 2014 - April 2015)

The maritime archaeology of the Clyde has been identified as a focus for a major study of human interaction with the river through time by the RCAHMS following on from recommendations by the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF). Source to

Sea has been developed as the long-term research programme, of which the research into human connections with the River Clyde forms part. This project has comprised a study of the surviving shipwreck heritage of Clyde-built vessels lost within the Clyde estuary and Firth of Clyde.

This project has collated information from a range of sources and has enhanced knowledge of Clyde-built wrecks within the Clyde. In particular information from recreational divers has proved invaluable and has been the source of detailed information about the current condition of many Clyde-built wrecks, useful for on-going management. A number of wrecks previously recorded as of unknown identity in the RCAHMS database were positively identified during the project and more accurate positional information was established for a number of other wrecks. Additionally, the project identified a potentially significant wreck (Margaret Niven) the remains of which were not previously recorded. This project has also identified a number of other potentially significant wrecks within the Clyde, which reflect both its unique contributions to world-wide shipbuilding and local connections. These wrecks include paddle steamers (Lapwing and Princess of Wales), Clyde Puffers (e.g. Margaret Niven), steam-yachts with military connections (HMS Breda), a dredger (Greenock) and an 18th-century West Indiaman (Lady Margaret). Numerous other wrecks have been identified by this project, and all display some degree of significance.

Information from Sally Evans (Cotswold Archaeology) April 2015

References

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