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Politician (Stern Portion): Calvay Rock, Eriskay Sound, Sea Of The Hebrides

Steamship (20th Century)

Site Name Politician (Stern Portion): Calvay Rock, Eriskay Sound, Sea Of The Hebrides

Classification Steamship (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) 'Ss Cabinet Minister'; London Merchant; Rosinish Point; Roisinis; Caloas Eiriosgaigh; The Little Minch; Politician (Stern Section)

Canmore ID 102814

Site Number NF81SW 8001

NGR NF 80811 13463

Datum WGS84 - Lat/Long


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2021.

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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

NF81SW 8001 8081 1346

N57 6.075 W7 16.3333

NLO: Roisinis [name: NF 804 122]

Eriskay (Eiriosgaigh) [name centred NF 79 10]

Caolas Eirosgaigh [name centred NF 799 133].

For bow portion (NF c. 803 096: N57 4 W7 16.5), see NF80NW 8001.

Quality of fix = PHOT

Horizontal Datum = OGB

General water depth = 5

Circumstances of Loss Details


The POLITICAN ran aground on rocks in fog and heavy weather while on passage from Liverpool to New Orleans. This loss was the inspiration for the novel 'Whisky Galore' by Compton Mackenzie.

Surveying Details


The vessel was stranded at 57 04 00N, 007 16 30W, approximately.

19 August 1975. The vessel lies at 57 06 07N, 007 16 28W. Only number 5 hold and part of the propellor shaft remains. Dozens of broken whisky bottles are scattered amongst heavy kelp which obscures the wreckage.

Report by letter from D. Sloan, 31 July 1975.

8 January 1976. The stern section was located in the Sound of Eriskay at 069 deg (true), 648 metres from Calvay Rock. Horizontal sextant angles - summit of Ben Scrien on Eriskay 46,00 summit of Calvay 55.00 sextremity of Rudha Dubh on South Uist. The least depth over the wreck at chart datum was 1 metre. The wreck lies on an orientation of 045/225 degrees and covers an area 72 x 20 metres. The engine room fittings and a propeller were located. There is evidence of clearance using explosive demolition, and little remains of the wreck above the keel other than the propeller shaft and other robust sections. The wreck was examined on 29 August 1975. Fuel oil is reported still held within the lower part of the wreck and local fishermen are anxious that further disturbance should not take place.

Report by ASADA exercise 'wreck hunter' expedition.

Originally the vessel went aground at 57 04 00N, 007 16 30W. The stern section was towed some years ago to a sheltered position near Calvay Rock and systematically and illegally salvaged of all non-ferrous metals. Apparently about 1000 tons of wreckage remains covered in kelp.

Report by J. Moor.

July 1984. The wreck is virtually totally covered with sand. Only a small amount of the remaining superstructure protrudes above the seabed, in general depth of 5 metres.

Report by Lt M. J. Law, REME.

22 January 1987. The position is taken from aerial photography - 57 06 04.5N, 007 16 20W.

20 March 1989. A salvage operation is planned for early summer by Mr Donald Macphee to recover the 2 to 7 thousand cases of whisky and Jamaican bank notes that are still in the wreck. The mast tops of the vessel are 9.1 metres below the surface, with a further 15.2 metres between the upper deck and keel.

Source: Daily Telegraph, 20 March 1989.

Note; this does fit well with previous descriptions received.

31 January 1990. In further reference to proposed salvage attempt to be attempted in the Spring of 1990.

Source: the Guardian, 13 December 1989.

4 April 1990. Salvage of the cargo is scheduled to commence in June.

Source: the Times, 20 March 1990.

10 August 1994. The site was located by diver. It is well broken and stands 1-2 metres above the seabed. The site is well covered in kelp.

Report by J. Leigh.

Hydrographic Office, 1995.

(Classified as steel steamship: no cargo specified, but former name cited as London Merchant, and date of loss as 5 February 1941). Politician: aft section only. This vessel stranded off Rosinish [Roisinis] Point, on the E side of Eriskay [Eiriosgaigh].

Registration: British. Built 1923. 7939grt. Length: 137m. Beam: 17m.

(Locations cited as N57 6.1 W7 16.2 (aft portion) and N57 4 W7 16.5).

I G Whittaker 1998.

Material reported under RoW amnesty (2001):

A2713 1 'clay brick' marked 'Forth': from seabed

A3751 7 assorted glass bottles, from in and around the wreck

A3936 1 copper pipe, 1 oiler: from seabed.

[Droits do not note from which portion of the wreck these object are derived ].

NMRS, MS/829/35.


Reference (19 April 2012)

UKHO Identifier : 001889

Feature Class : Wreck

Wreck Category : Dangerous wreck

State : LIVE

Classification : Unclassified

Position (Lat/long) : 57.10125,-7.27222


WGS84 Position (Lat/long) : 57.10098,-7.27313

WGS84 Origin : 3-D Cartesian Shift (BW)

Previous Position : 57.10167,-7.27000

Position Method : Air photography

Position Quality : Precisely known

Depth Quality : Depth unknown

Water Depth : 5

Vertical Datum : Mean Low Water Springs


Type : SS


Length : 143.6

Beam : 17.7

Draught : 12.5

Sonar Length : 72.0

Sonar Width : 20.0

Orientation : 45.0

Tonnage : 7939

Tonnage Type : Gross


Date Sunk : 05/02/1941

Bottom Texture : Sand

Debris Field : COVERS AN AREA 72 X 20MTRS.

Contact Description : Partial wreck

Original Sensor : Reported Sinking

Last Sensor : Diver Sighting

Original Detection Year : 1941

Last Detection Year : 1994

Original Source : Other

Last Source : Divers


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