S.S.Somali 1941

N55 34.095 001 36.121W.

The S.S.Somali was a 6809 tons P & O cargo ship built by Harland & Wolff on the river Clyde near Glasgow. She was on route to Honk Kong when she was attacked by a German Heinkel 111 bomber near the Farne Isles off the East Coast of England on 27th March 1941.
She was built in 1930 and was 459 ft long and 61 ft wide making her a very large target. Her quadruple expansion engines gave her a speed of over 15 knots. She was carrying a general cargo including shoes, cosmetics medical supplies, bicycles, lorry tyres, mercury, non ferrous metals, Chinese coins and tin solders. Also on board were horses and there hay and this hay contributed to here demise.

Not known until the 2000’s ,she was also carrying a cargo of radioactive isotope Technetium ingots first discovered in Italy in 1936 (atomic number, Z=43). These were destined for an unknown location in India. They had been picked up from Middleborough docks near to the Chemical Industries (ICI) factory at Billingham, that probably manufactured them.
The Heinkel 111 bomber came out of cloud cover over the Northumberland coast to score three direct hits on the Somali. The hold with cargo of hay soon caught alight so her crew of 72 and the 38 passengers were taken off by the armed trawler “Pelican”. The two naval gunners on board using the 12 pounders were unable to damage the German bomber. The  salvage tug “ Sea Giant” arrived with a view to beaching the vessel but during the tow there was a large explosion resulting in the ship sinking two days after being attached by the German bomber. Although the salvage crew on board were blown off the deck into the sea , no one was injured.

Today the Somali lies in 27m of water in position 55 34.095N 1 36.121W. Over the past 20 years she has significantly deteriorated. The following are show some images from the wreck as well as some video taken by Steve Clarkson in 1992