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The Wreck of Bermuda off Drumbeg

The Wreck of Bermuda
[58.250982, -5.192770]
Brendan O’Hanrahan
North West Highlands Geopark

The rocky, skerry-strewn bay north of Drumbeg contains what is almost certainly the largest wreck in the waters of northwest Sutherland, possibly in the Highlands? The luxury liner Bermuda was built in Belfast by Workman Clark and Co Ltd, launched in 1927 and entered service in 1928. The Bermuda wasn’t a blue riband class liner,…

The rocky, skerry-strewn bay north of Drumbeg contains what is almost certainly the largest wreck in the waters of northwest Sutherland, possibly in the Highlands?

The luxury liner Bermuda was built in Belfast by Workman Clark and Co Ltd, launched in 1927 and entered service in 1928. The Bermuda wasn’t a blue riband class liner, more of a smaller boutique liner designed to convey the often very wealthy passengers between Hamilton, Bermuda and New York. Originally intended to cruise between December and May, her popularity required the company to open her up all year round to keen travellers. She elegantly and ostentatiously plied this route for two years, carrying 616 first class passengers and 75 second class, along with 300 crew per trip.

Disaster struck in June 1931, while she was lying at her berth in Hamilton harbour. A fire broke out in a lift shaft and eventually spread to three upper decks, and although the blaze was ultimately extinguished,  two crewmen lost their lives fighting the fire.

The damage caused by the fire was not extensive enough to scrap the vessel and she was sent back to Belfast to be repaired and refitted. As the refurbishment works were coming to an end, disaster struck again and a second fire erupted within the ill-fated liner. This time the damage was much more serious, and the Bermuda was now written off as a total loss.

Now a hulk, the skeletal remains were bought in 1933 by the well-known salvage company Metal Industries who, in April, set about towing the hulk back around Scotland to their breaking yard in the Firth of Forth at Rosyth. Even in this reduced state, her ill-luck endured and both tow-lines snapped when she was passing the islands off Badcall  in Eddrachillis Bay. The salvage crew on the tug didn’t  give up and  managed with some difficulty to reattach the lines but not for long. This time when she broke free there was no saving the beloved vessel.

Now she lies just north of Dornaidh an Fheòir, east of Cùl Eilean and southwest of Rubh’ Dhubhard. Although, refloating her was simply impractical, much of the remaining superstructure was cut apart from the hulk before she was finally abandoned to the elements. The remaining parts of the wreck  now lies in 3 large pieces, of which the stern is still clearly recognisable. The propeller is also visible, some 3.7 m in diameter. The water is approx. 12 m deep where she lies amongst kelp, sand and rock.

Newsreel of the Second fire: British Pathe

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Bermuda Wreck Credit: Brendan