The Sad story of the S.S Santampa.

by David Nurse January. 07, 2021 213 views

This is an unfinished photoblog.

A few weeks ago I went to the coast to try and find some of the wreckage of the S.S Santampa. A steamship that was wrecked off the coast where I live.

I have seen reports and some footage of the engine block that is resting on the coastal rocks. I waited for a day where the tide was low at a decent time and also when the weather was good enough for the visit and this day fitted the bill nicely. Unfortunately, when I got to the coast at low tide there was too much of a swell so I could not get the exact point I needed to and also the tide did not seem to be out quite enough, so I vowed to return soon. But then once again came the lockdowns and travel restrictions.

The story of the Santampa is a sad one. It is one of the worst marine disasters in our country.

The 7,219 ton steamship was sailing from Middlesbrough to Newport on the 23rd April 1947 during a severe storm. The ship developed engine trouble and the captain decided to go to Swansea bay to seek help. The storm was so severe the ship tried to seek the shelter of North Devon coast but in the 100 MPH winds, one of the ships two anchors broke and the ship started to drift towards Wales. It was soon out of control and just after 5pm the ship sent out an SOS as she was running aground. The Lifeboat "The Edward Prince of Wales" was launched from the Mumbles lifeboat station.

It was unable to save the ship from being wrecked and the following loss of life despite both the lifeboat crew and the coastguards from Porthcawl trying to save them. In under two hours, the ship broke up spilling oil into the sea.

None of the 39 crew of the Santampa survived and also all of the 8 brave crew of the lifeboat were lost, Many of the dead died by suffocation of the oil rather than being drowned.

The next day the reality of the disaster came to life when the wreckage of the ship could be seen and also the upturned hull of the lifeboat was on the rocks.

In keeping of the time, the lifeboat was burned at the spot where it came aground, something I had not of before.

Later a plaque was laid at this spot and that is the subject of my main photograph.

It Reads:-

To the memory of the Captain

and the Thirty Eight crew members of the freighter


Who perished on these rocks

In the Great Storm of April 23rd 1947

And of the Coxen and Crew of Seven

Of the Mumbles Lifeboat


Who lost their lives in their valiant

Rescue attempt

This plaque marks the final

resting place of the Mumbles Lifeboat.

During my visit to the rocks, I did find this piece of a metal ship on the rocks and often you will come across them. Is it a piece of the Santampa? well, I don't know for sure as there have been quite a few wrecks on this part of the coast, but it is likely to be from the Santampa.

The lifeboat crew were buried in Oystermouth cemetery near in Mumbles and many of the Santampa's crew were buried in Porthcawl Cemetery.

I will return here to see if I can find the engine block of the ship and I will also travel to the crews final resting place to see the memorial left for them there but I thought I would put up this unfinished piece and relate some of the story to be updated when we can travel unrestricted once more.

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