british Rowbotham C. & Sons SS Helmsman (Mystery Tanker) [+1927]
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nationality british
purpose transport
type tanker (ex-cargo ship)
subtype/class coastal cargo ship
propulsion steam
date built 1905
is nickname yes
live live
weight (tons) 167  grt
dimensions 36.8 x 6.6 x 2.6 m
material steel
engine 2 cylinder compound by Shields Engine Co. Ltd., North Shields, one single boiler, two plain furnace, single screw
power 50  n.h.p.
speed 9.5  knots
yard no. 773
IMO/Off. no. 122827
about the loss
cause lost foundered
other reasons gale/storm
date lost 27/10/1927  [dd/mm/yyyy]
casualties  max.8rank: 655
about people
Smith's Dock Co. Ltd. (South Bank), Middlesbrough
engine by
Shields Engineering & Drydock Co., Ltd., North Shields
last owner
[1]Rowbotham C. & Sons, London
SS Helmsman (Mystery Tanker) [+1927]
period 1925 ~ 1927
IMO/Off. no.: 122827
prev. owners
SS Lochside
period 1905 ~ 1925
IMO/Off. no.: 122827
captain A. W. Marshall
no. of crew 8
about the wreck
status well preserved
depth (m.) 45 max. / 39 min. (m)
orientation 145°
position on seabed upright
visibility good
current normal
sea bed sand
protected no
war grave no
 Racey Carl, A Century of Steamship Losses
entered by Lettens Jan
entered 27/08/2008
last update Racey Carl
last update 27/10/2012
Lettens Jan22/04/2010
latitudeUK hydro member
longitudeUK hydro member
AISUK hydro member
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dist. homeportdist. homeport
ref. used
 UK Hydrographic Office
position disp.
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  The Wreck today  

Lettens Jan22/04/2010

UK hydro member
ref. used
 UK Hydrographic Office

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copyright: Racey Carl
 copyright: Racey Carl copyright: Unknown - onbekend - inconnu copyright: Andy Dowsland copyright: Andy Dowsland 
 copyright: Andy Dowsland copyright: Racey Carl copyright: Racey Carl copyright: Racey Carl 
 copyright: Racey Carl copyright: Racey Carl copyright: Racey Carl copyright: Racey Carl 
  copyright: UK Hydrographic Office copyright: Unknown - onbekend - inconnu copyright: Unknown - onbekend - inconnu 
   copyright: Unknown - onbekend - inconnu copyright: Unknown - onbekend - inconnu 
  copyright: Unknown - onbekend - inconnu copyright: Unknown - onbekend - inconnu  
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  Hydrographic Service UK  
Racey Carl26/10/2010Company History :- C. Rowbotham & Sons had specialised in Admiralty contacts during WW1. In 1925 the company entered a new expanding and demanding area of activity, the transportation in bulk of chemicals and fuels, an area being exploited on the inland waterways, and estuarial bunkering services, by John Harker Ltd, one of the Lyon & Lyon group of companies at Knottingley. Rowbotham’s purchased and converted ‘Lochside’ which was re-named ‘ Helmsman ’ official no.122827, followed in 1928 by ‘Clydeburn’ re-named ‘Steersman’ official no.133021
ref. used: 
 Charles V. Waine
Racey Carl26/10/2010Lloyd´s Register 1926-27:- Machinery aft; One single boiler, two plain furnace; 105 nett tons; 120.6 feet long, 21.6 feet wide, 9.2 feet high; Ketch rigged; Quarter deck: 41 feet, Bridge deck: 11 feet, Forcastle: 17 feet; 3 bulks heads; Electric light; Fitted with tanks in the hold for carrying petroleum.
ref. used: 
 Lloyd´s of London, Lloyd's Register of Shipping
Racey Carl26/10/2010The small 20 years old steamer LOCHSIDE was purchased by C. Rowbotham & Sons in 1925 and renamed HELSMAN. In 1927, converted into a tanker by Clelands Yard on the Tyne, unfortunately she was soon lost after entering the tanker trade, on voyage from Medway to Stockton, in one of the worst storms for many years. No trace of the crew were ever found.
ref. used: 
 Charles V. Waine, Steam Coasters & Short Sea Traders
Racey Carl26/10/2010Extract from BOT wreck report:- The cause of the s.s. HELMSMAN not having been heard of since she left the Medway on the 27th October, 1927, must remain a matter of conjecture as there were no survivors, no one saw her in difficulty and nothing of her except an empty lifeboat was found. The Court is of opinion that this little vessel undoubtedly experienced exceptionally heavy weather. The wind, as recorded officially by the East Dudgeon and Humber Light Vessels in the vicinity of which she most probably was at the time of her loss, reached hurricane force.

It is possible that she broached-to and sustained such damage as would permit water to gain access to her hold or engine room and so cause her to founder. (see full Court report below)
ref. used: 
 Racey Carl, A Century of Steamship Losses

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Racey Carl26/10/2010[EN]

Board of Trade wreck report for 'Helmsman', 1928

Creator: UK Board of Trade Date: 1928 (No. 7859.) 'HELMSMAN' (S.S.)
 public domain
ref. used

Racey Carl30/12/2009[EN]

Mystery Tanker

a sketch by Andy Dowsland, Northstar crew & partner

 Andy Dowsland

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About Owners
Rowbotham C. & Sons, London

also reported as office in London
About Builders
 Smith's Dock Co. Ltd. (South Bank), Middlesbrough
Smith's Dock Company who started at High Docks, South Shields, are often referred to simply as Smith's Dock, was a British shipbuilding company that became associated with South Bank in Middlesbrough on the River Tees in Northeast England, after opening an operation there in 1907.

Smiths Dock are perhaps most famous for preparing the design of the Flower class corvette, an anti-submarine convoy escort of WWII. In 1914 listed as Marine Engineers. During WWI the yard's output was 160 small ships. In the 1920's the yard began arc-welding along with riveting. Up to 1930 the yard mainly made colliers, tramps and cargo-liners.

In 1930 the yard entered the depression with a number of orders on its books. The worst year for the yard was 1932 when it was only able to launch one motor trawler. In 1931 the Stockton yard of Smiths Dock Co Ltd was purchased by National Shipbuilders Security for closure and dismantling. In 1936 the "Flower" class corvette based on the design of the whale-catcher Southern Pride, made its debut. 19 were made by the yard and 200 by other yards.

During the 1940s the yard made a number of cargo ships, tramps, colliers and the last case-oil carrier. In 1966 the yard was sold to Swan, Hunter and Wigham Richardson with the yard becoming part of the Swan Hunter Group later in the same year.

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