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In March 2009, at the request of Historic Scotland, Wessex Archaeology's dive team investigated the wreck of the Iona I, a paddle steamer lost in 1862 in the Inner Clyde Estuary near Greenock. The Iona I was built on the Clyde in 1855 by Glaswegian shipbuilders J. & G. Thomson. Dubbed, the ‘Queen of the Clyde' the Iona I achieved considerable fame as a fast and well appointed passenger steamer operating in the Firth of Clyde for David Hutcheson & Company. During the American Civil War the vessel was bought by a businessman, probably Mr D. McNutt, to run goods to the Confederate States through the Union naval blockade. After having been converted for this purpose, and whilst leaving the Clyde on the start of its first transatlantic crossing, the Iona I was involved in a collision with another vessel. Contemporary accounts suggest that the Iona I sank rapidly by the stern, but that the vessel was probably intact as it left the surface.
The wreck currently lies on a silty seabed in almost 30m of water, about 100m south-east of the Whiteforeland Buoy in the Firth of Clyde Channel, off Greenock and Gourock. The vessel survives partly intact on a roughly south-west to north-east orientation. The central 25m of the wreck is the best preserved part of the site as here the vessel survives up to upper deck height, with boilers, crankshafts and what appear to be engines surviving in situ. Elsewhere the vessel is less well preserved and does not survive to deck height. Listen to a podcast recorded by our dive team whilst exploring the wreck of Iona l. Wessex Archaeology have also investigated the wreck of the Iona I's sister ship, the Iona II. Read more about the Iona II.
The site is situated in the Upper Clyde Estuary, off Greenock and Gaurock. It lies within the Firth of Clyde Channel, approximately 100m south east of the Whiteforeland Buoy. The following position for funnel base 2013 has been obtained from the multibeam swath bathymetry data supplied by Clydeport and has been confirmed by tracked diver survey.