1446 5th Feb
Signal From RA
Wick reports wreck of SPHINX ashore one
mile North Lybster, bottom up. Watch has been arranged .
from RA Invergordon to C in C Rosyth
Lybster reports wreck of SPHINX bottom
up at foot of steep cliff, one and a half miles North of Lybster.
Little likelihood of wreck moving except possibly at high water
springs. Upper works appear to have completely gone. Certain CB’s
have been recovered. Understand ACOS has signalled report made by
NOIC Thurso, and has instructed Mr McKenzie of metal industries
Salvage Company to visit wreck today, Wednesday.
I have to report
that between 11am and 1pm on 7th inst. I carried out a
survey of HMS SPHINX
with a view to possible salvage.
at approximately high water and was completed when tide had been
ebbing for two hours.
The vessel lies
bottom up on a rocky shore about 1 mile north of Lybster. She is
broadside on to the shore in a small gully at the foot of cliffs 100
to 150 feet high and is completely exposed to all winds from NE
through E to SSW but sheltered from all other winds.
The forward part
of the vessel as far aft as station 25 bulkhead is broken completely
off and was not visible in the vicinity.
There was about
5 feet of water on the inshore side and about 9 feet on the seaward
(port) side. The inshore side will ebb practically dry at low water.
vertical fractures 8 feet by 2 feet can be seen abreast the engine
room, and the ships side is badly crushed and corrugated in the
superstructure and possibly part of the bridge deck appear to be
torn away. Port propeller is broken and a 4” wire, presumably a
towing hawser was wrapped around same.
observations made I have arrived at the following conclusions:-
1) The vessel may be considered a constructive total loss, and
as a wartime salvage proposition is not worth considering.
2) Damage is so extensive that even if salvage was possible ,
the cost of same plus the cost of
reconstruction would be prohibitive.
3) The vessel will probably drive further inshore or break up
during the first Easterly gale
at Spring tides.
4) If the confidential books are still in the ship, it should be
possible to recover them, either by burning holes through the hull
or if necessary by divers.
If the vessel breaks up even her present position, live
ammunition may be scattered about the beach and become a source of
T M McKenzie