The Gun Wreck (Site 5005)


Site 5005 is located 5.5nm south of Hastings, just to the east of Hastings Shingle Bank. The wreck position is 50.77060N, 00.64781E (Geodetic co-ordinates, WGS 84) or E 334106.41, N 5626992.71 (UTM Zone 31N, WGS 84). The wreck lies at a general depth of 22m (CD). Depths experienced on site ranged from 29m to 30m. What is left on the seabed?
The wreck is lying on even keel with a list to starboard and is orientated WNW-ESE. The bow is in the West. The wreck site including debris is 100m long and 18m wide. The vessel stern is intact with a fully preserved poop which stands 9m proud of the seabed. There is a gun on the poop which gave the vessel its name. The aft part of the main deck is also preserved and exposed. The midship area and bow of the wreck are partially or completely buried by sand. Very few structural remains seem to be preserved in the bow area, but a very broken up anchor windlass was observed.
Portions of the deck and the top of two boilers were visible amidships. This indicates that the engine room area is completely buried.

Fittings and Machinery

On the poop most of the original wooden deck planking is still in place.On the poop most of the original wooden deck planking is still in place. As the wreck was only surveyed by Remotely Operated Vehicle, none of the features recorded on the seabed could be measured. The stern is best preserved. The main propeller is still attached, but two of the four original blades have broken off. The rudder is missing, but parts of the tiller mechanism are still in place.
On the poop most of the original wooden deck planking is still in place. Four sets of bitts are situated around the intact emergency steering wheel (image 1, 2, 3). Forward of the wheel a cabin skylight and a mount for a small gun were seen. The gun has fallen off its mound and is lying on the starboard side of the deck (image 1, 2).
Forward of the gun mount, a steam driven winch is situated in the centre of the quarterdeck (view image). Two wire reels were seen either side of the winch (view image).
A large four bladed spare propeller is secured to the upper deck forward of the collapsed mast.A large four bladed spare propeller is secured to the upper deck forward of the collapsed mast. Parts of a mast or derrick have collapsed onto the main deck just below the poop (view image). In this area, the main deck is intact bar the deck planking which was probably wooden. A large four bladed spare propeller is secured to the upper deck forward of the collapsed mast.
Forward of the propeller the hatch for the aftmost cargo hold is visible. The aft hold is separated from the midship area by a bulkhead. A steam winch lies collapsed just forward of the bulkhead (view image).
The whole midship area of the vessel is buried, but a large amount of unrecognisable debris was observed on the surrounding seabed, possibly a consequence of the torpedo explosion that led to the sinking of the vessel. The top edges of two scotch boilers, covered by bent and collapsed upper deck structure, were observed amidships (image 1, 2).
Debris and the barely visible line of starboard side frames leads towards the bow of the vessel. The bow itself is heavily damaged. The only recognisable features among the debris in this area were a broken up anchor windlass and bitts.

What is the Gun wreck?

Site 5005 is listed in the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office wreck index as steamer Umba (No. 20549). This identification is supported by The Shipwreck Index of the British Isles and the book World War One Channel Wrecks. Details on vessel specifications and history were obtained from Lloyds Register and the Schiffsregister der Neptunwerft . A plan of the vessel was published in the maritime journal Strandgut.
Recon 5005Recon 5005
The Umba was built as Adelheid Menzell (Construction No. 287) in 1903 at the Neptun shipyard in Rostock, Germany. She was a schooner rigged screw steamer with a gross tonnage of 1501t, and measured 88.39m x 12.5m x 5.8m. She was equipped with a triple expansion steam engine delivering 180HP and two boilers. She had a crew of 25 and was capable of a maximum speed of 9kn.
According to Lloyds Register in 1917, the vessel had a single deck, deep framing and was equipped with electric light and wireless. The Register also gives the lengths for poop (8.53m), bridge deck (38.1m) and forecastle (10.36m).
From 1903 to 1906 Adelheid Menzell was employed on the Hamburg- China route. In 1906 the vessel was bought by the Hamburg Bremer Afrika Linie AG, and was used in the Africa trade. In 1907 she was renamed to Irmgard, renamed again to Utgard and purchased by the Deutsche Seeverkehrs A.G. in Nordenham in 1912. A plan published in Strandgut 17 shows the general layout of the Utgard and her sister ships. A photograph shows one of the sister ships, the Asgard, also built by the Neptun shipyard in 1903 moored in Wilhelmshaven in 1919.
In 1914 F.W. Fischer from Rostock bought the Utgard, but shortly thereafter she was commandeered by the Russian forces in Kovda in 1914, renamed to Umba and used by the Archangelsk Murmansk S.N. Co. Archangelsk. The vessel was armed with a single Russian 6pdr gun mounted at the stern. In 1917 the Umba was in turn confiscated by the Shipping Controller in England. In 1918 she was bought by the Ellerman's Wilson Line. She was torpedoed on 30 April 1918 while in ballast en route from Dunkirk in France to Barry Roads in south Wales. The torpedo, fired by SM UB-57, hit the Umba amidships and tore a massive hole into her side. She sank almost immediately with the loss of 20 of her crew of 25.


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