SS Gefion Wreck in Lyme Bay
The SS Gefion lays in 36m of water broken with an intact bow section on its starboard side. A good PADI deep dive and popular from our Teignmouth Centre.
Dive Site Name: Gefion Dive Type: Wreck Dive
Max Depth Seabed: 36m Depth to top of Wreck: 32m
Approximate Position: 50 30 04N: 03 15 12W
Tonnage: 1123tonnes Length: 226.3Ft Beam: 36.5Ft Cargo: Coal
Date Lost: 25/10/1917 How Lost: Torpedoed UB 40
Minimum Qualification: PADI Deep Diver (Or Equivilent)
The SS Gefion was built by Bergens Mek. Verks. Bergen Norway, Yard no-185 in 1914, and was a British steamer of 1123 Tonnes at the time of her sinking the Gefion was operated by The Shipping Controller (Mordey, Jones & Co.), London
On October 25th, 1917, Gefion was on passage from Penarth to Rouen with a cargo of coal. She was spotted by Ub-40 (Hans Howaldt) 10 miles NE of Berry Head. She was torpedoed and hit in number 2 hold 2.5m below the waterline and sunk with the loss of 2 lives including the Master James Minto.
She now lays in 36m of water broken with her fwd section laying on its starboard side.
UB-40'S 50TH VICTIM
OBERLEUTNANT HEINRICH HOWALDT of the Flanders Flotilla ranked high on the German list of U-boat aces. He and UB-40 had sunk 49 Allied ships, totalling more than 80,000 tons. However, he was having trouble bagging his 50th victim in the breaking swellsand howling winds of the afternoon of 25 October, 1917, writes Kendall McDonald.
Howaldt's target, the 1123 ton Admiralty collier Gefion, had been built in Bergen, Norway, just before the start of World War One, so was designed to cope with the kind of huge seas she was now meeting 10 miles north-east of Berry Head, Devon. Despite the seas and the 1600 ton weight of her cargo of Welsh coal, which she was carrying from Penarth to Honfleur, the Gefion was making a steady 10 knots. Her speed caused the commander of the storm-tossed UB-40 some problems in loosing a torpedo at her from one of his bow tubes.
However, at 3.30 Howaldt fired from periscope depth. James Minto, the master of the Gefion, was below. The chief mate had the watch and was on the bridge. He spotted the wake of the torpedo coming at an angle of 20? to the beam on the port side. He put the helm hard to port and the Gefion began to respond, but it was a little too late. The torpedo, running deep, smashed into Number 2 hold some 2.5m below the waterline and the explosion opened up a huge hole in her side. The collier began to sink rapidly. Her crew made for the boats, switching to the starboard one when they found that the port boat had been smashed.
Nine men scrambled in and pulled away from the sinking ship, but the other 16 were left struggling in the water as their ship sank beneath them. The men in the starboard boat managed to row back and drag five more men aboard, but the master and a donkeyman were never found. The survivors were picked up some hours later by a fishing smack and landed at Brixham. Not one of them claimed to have seen the submarine that sank them. Howaldt got UB-40 safely back to the his base at Bruges, but when the Germans were forced to evacuate Flanders in October 1918, she was one of four damaged U-boats blown to pieces by men of the Flanders Flotilla to avoid them falling into Allied hands.
The wreck of the Gefion belongs to Exedive BSAC.