Rust and Fur – The Wreck of the SS Abyssinia and Longstone Wall

22nd September 2013

by Richard Booth

Launching from Seahouses, the RIB Seahawk punched her way through the chop thrown up by the brisk NW breeze. The combination of big tides and this strong wind greatly limited the range of sites that would be available to dive.

The gully’s that cut into the hard stone along the Longstone wall at least offered the promise of providing some shelter as we kitted up and prepared to dive.




Looking over the side of the RIB initially offered the promise of good visibility. Once in the water however, this promise proved somewhat more limited with lots of small particles being carried along on the current creating an underwater fog. Nevertheless everyone without exception enjoyed the first dive, drifting along the steep wall whilst being pushed in different directions as they travelled along the reef.






We also encountered numerous wrasses continually harassing us to provide them with an easy urchin meal. We refused and left the urchins intact to continue their happy grazing along the rocky surfaces of the reef.




In one of the gully’s we also came across some wreckage, a mound of old rusting chain links now firmly concreted into the gully bottom. Nearby were the remains of some old iron cannon like pipes as well as other assorted ironwork.  Was this he remains of some lost shipwreck, or debris left over from the construction of the lighthouse? Who knows? More mystery wreckage in the Farnes.

For the second dive we headed across to the Knivestone reef.

Here we planned to dive the wreck of the SS Abyssinia. She is an interesting wreck having originally been launched on the Tyne in 1900 at the Palmers Ship building and iron company. Quite a large vessel of 138 metres in length this German registered vessel survived WW1 after apparently being interned in Chile for the duration of the war.




The Abyssinia however was wrecked on the Knivestone on the 3rd September 1921 whilst apparently on passage back to Germany, fortunately without loss of any life. Today the wreck is very broken up and lies scattered on a slope on the west side of the Knivestone. The wreckage becomes more interesting as it drops down into deeper water.






Here we came across intriguing bits of superstructure as well as coming across various deck winches amongst the broken ironwork.

Throughout this entire dive we also had the added pleasure of the company of several playful and inquisitive seals.

A fantastic end to another great days diving.

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