Monday, 7 September 2009

The Bone Wreck. Sinking of the SS Armenian

The SS Armenian was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast in 1895 and served with the Leyland Line until 1903. She spend a year chartered by the White Star Line and finished her life as a freighter. She was sunk by German Submarine of the Cornish coast in June of 1914

Search for the Bone Wreck

In June 1915, the SS Armenian, a large steamship managed by the White Star Line, the owners of the Titanic, heads into the Bristol Channel from the United States. She is carrying over 1400 mules destined for the Western Front. As the unarmed vessel nears the British coast, a German submarine spots the former liner and fires warning shots. To avoid capture, the Armenian makes a run for it. As the U-boat continually pounds her with shells, the captain orders the crew to abandon ship.

Once the remaining crew is safely off in lifeboats, the German U-boat fires a torpedo into the stern of the steamship. It only takes minutes for the Armenian to sink to the bottom of the Atlantic, with her unfortunate cargo of 1400 mules still on board. 29 American crewmembers also die, causing controversy as the United States have not yet officially entered the war.

More than 90 years later, the infamous White Star Line vessel has still not been found. Many have searched the waters off the coast of Cornwall, but the Armenian has proved to be elusive. Now, a new expedition of international divers is hunting for the ship known as the Bone Wreck. Using state-of-the-art dive and survey equipment, the team aims to be the first to find this long-lost vessel.

Underwater surveys have revealed several possibilities, and the divers’ first objective is to go down to two large wrecks near the point the captain of the Armenian noted as the location where he believed the ship went down. But even though one of those wrecks is full of bones, neither proves to be the Armenian. The expedition is forced to follow other lines of enquiry in order to locate the missing ship.

Unexpectedly, German archives reveal the actual log from the German U-boat that sank the mule transport. The German commander’s coordinates are at least 20 miles from where the ship was reported to have sunk and where the team has been searching. The final resting place of the Armenian has been found, with her sad cargo of thousands of mule bones aboard.

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