british SS Commonwealth [+1918]
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nationality british
purpose transport
type cargo ship
propulsion steam
date built 1896
live live
weight (tons) 3353  grt
dimensions 100.6 x 13.7 x 5.8 m
material steel
engine 1 x 3 cyl. triple expansion engine, two single boilers, single shaft, 1 screw
armament 1 x 12 pounder 12 cwt. stern gun
power 260  n.h.p.
speed 8.5  knots
yard no. 226
IMO/Off. no. 106805
about the loss
cause lost torpedo
date lost 19/02/1918  [dd/mm/yyyy]
casualties  max.14rank: 646
about people
Furness Withy & Co., Ltd., West Hartlepool (Sunderland)
engine by
Edward Withy & Co., West Hartlepool (Sunderland)
last owner
[1]Kent Steamship Co. Ltd. - Walton S., Cardiff
SS Commonwealth [+1918]
period 1916 ~ 1918
IMO/Off. no.: 106805
prev. owners
[2]Radcliffe Charles Ltd., London
SS Commonwealth
period 1901 ~ 1916
IMO/Off. no.: 106805
[3]Herron John & Co. (Sphere Shipping Co. Ltd.), Liverpool
SS Commonwealth
period 1899 ~ 1901
IMO/Off. no.: 106805
[4]Stewart R. & Co., Liverpool
SS Commonwealth
period 1896 ~ 1899
IMO/Off. no.: 106805
captain John Jones
no. of crew 29
about the wreck
status hull breaking down
depth (m.) 50 max. / 39 min. (m)
orientation 110°
position on seabed upright
visibility average
current normal
sea bed mud
protected no
war grave no
 Racey Carl, A Century of Steamship Losses
entered by Allen Tony
entered 05/06/2006
last update Racey Carl
last update 01/07/2013
Lettens Jan01/10/2009
latitudeUK hydro member
longitudeUK hydro member
AISUK hydro member
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dist. homeportdist. homeport
ref. used
 UK Hydrographic Office
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  The Wreck today  

Lettens Jan01/10/2009

UK hydro member
ref. used
 UK Hydrographic Office

Racey Carl03/11/2009

A fairly big steam ship sitting upright and intact from amidships to the stern on a fairly hard seabed. The top of the engine cylinders can be seen at deck level and is a triple expansion. There is only one medium size boiler forward of the engine but it is much higher than expected and runs across the vessel with two furnaces seen on the port side. The starboard side of the forward holds is missing but the port side can be followed to the bow section which is very broken up and lying on its starboard side.

There are two anchors and a large mound of chain along with a large anchor windless and at least one cargo winch. There is another winch in between the forward hold and some hatch combing. What remains of the cargo is lots of wooden lats and rolls large rolls of what looks to be paper of paper pulp just like what the BUR was carrying. No sign of any stern gun or armament.

It is highly unlikely that this wreck is the COMMONWEALTH, as there is no sign of the cargo of 5,300 of iron ore, and apparently this wreck not armed.

ref. used
 Carl Racey & Chris Baker

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copyright: Unknown - onbekend - inconnu
 copyright: Unknown - onbekend - inconnu copyright: Unknown - onbekend - inconnu copyright: UK Hydrographic Office  
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  Hydrographic Service UK  
Racey Carl03/11/2009On the 1st February the s.s. COMMONWEALTH left Bini Saf, Algeria bound for Middlesbrough with a cargo of 5,300 tons of iron ore. When rounding Flamborough Head and making 7.5 knots following the war channel, the master altered course to NNW and had just gone below when a torpedo struck the ship.

He rushed on deck and assisted to lower the port lifeboat. The ship had been struck on the starboard side, abreast of the engine room. The deck was blown up along with the starboard lifeboat, and veseel sank within 3 or 4 minutes. Survivors got away in the port life boat. The port jolly boat was seen to be drawn in board and smashed against the funnel as the ship went down, and the occupants were drowned. There was no time to do anything but jump into this boat which just cleared the ship, five men were picked up afterwards.

Survivors pulled all night and landed at Filey about 6.30 a.m. on the 20th. The enemy submarine was never seen.
ref. used: 
 Racey Carl, A Century of Steamship Losses
Racey Carl03/11/2009Built as the COMMONWEALTH for Stewart S.S. Co Ltd, Liverpool (R. Steward & Co); Yard No 226; Launch Date 25/07/1896; Vessel torpoed by UC-71, the torpedo struck the starboard side abreast of the engine room at 9.40 p.m. Vessel sank in 4 minutes; 29 crew, 14 lives lost.The Captian was among the survivors.
ref. used: 
 Racey Carl, A Century of Steamship Losses
Allen Tony26/06/2007Commonwealth was a 3,353grt, defensively-armed British merchant steamer. On the 19 February 1918 when 5 miles NE from Flamborough Head, United Kingdom she was torpedoed without warning and sunk by a submarine. 14 lives lost.
Lettens Jan01/10/2009UK hydro member
ref. used: 
 UK Hydrographic Office

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About Owners
Kent Steamship Co. Ltd. - Walton S., Cardiff

L. Dons & Co.
About Builders
 Furness Withy & Co., Ltd., West Hartlepool (Sunderland)
In 1884 Edward Withy and Co was sold to Christopher Furness. Furness was a local shipowner, with a string of businesses related to shipping. In 1891 the company amalgamated the businesses of Mr. Christopher Furness, steamship owner, with that of Messrs. Edward Withy and Co, iron and steel steamship builders and repairers. In 1897 the Victoria, the largest vessel ever built by the yard, was launched by Lady Furness in August. It was the first of many transatlantic liners built by them. -- In 1909 Furness amalgamated the Middleton yard with his Irvine Harbour yard. The trading name was Irvine's Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. Ltd. During the first world war the yard made 2 tankers, a tramp and two cargo liners. In addition a number of standard "B" type trams and a "Z" type tanker were also made along with some other smaller vessels. -- In 1917 the Middleton and Harbour yard were sold to a syndicate acting through the Commercial bank of London. -- 1921 was the last year that the company showed a profit due to the freight slump of the preceding year. The yards remained closed until 1930 when it was decided to liquidate the yards

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Edward Withy & Co., West Hartlepool (Sunderland)
EDWARD WITHY & Company, HARTLEPOOL, 1874 - 1891. - Edward Withy continued to build at the Middleton yard previously operated with his partner Edward Alexander. He emigrated in 1884, selling his shares to shipowner Christopher Furness who engaged Edward's brother Henry as Managing Director. After 1891 the yard operated as Furness, Withy.
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SS Commonwealth [+1918]
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