Strange Union: Hathor And The Plympton
By James Donahue
The two wrecks lay together, one on top of the other, at the entrance to the English Channel
at St. Agnes, Isles of Scilly, on the south coast of the United Kingdom. They are both century old steamships, the Plympton
and the Hathor. Because of their strange underwater union, they have been among the best known sites for sport divers in the
The 314-foot Plympton was the first vessel to sink there. It went aground on Lethegus Rocks
while running in heavy fog on August 14, 1909.
The Plympton, an English cargo carrier built in 1893, was under the command of Captain
Alexander Stewart and carrying a cargo of maize from Argentina to Dublin when it ran into heavy fog. The Plympton steamed
through the fog for a full day, the crew using lead lines and sounding the ship’s siren. Stewart kept all hands on deck,
listening for the Bishop Rock foghorn so he could get his bearings.
The crew was still on alert, but unsure of where the vessel was located when it struck
Lethegus Reef. The ship flooded and had to be abandoned. The 24-member crew and one passenger landed safely on St. Agnes.
The local residents set about stripping the vessel and two men were in the wreck when it suddenly capsized and sank, taking
them down with it. The ship settled upside down in a crevice between two large underwater rock formations.
The Hathor, a much larger bulk freighter at 472 feet, was built in Germany in 1912. This
ship was docked in Chile when World War I broke out and it remained stranded there for the duration of the war.
After the war, the Hathor was loaded with a cargo of nitrate of soda and oil cake, and
in spite of the fact that the ship had remained idle and unattended for years, the crew steamed off for Dublin. The neglected
engine broke down off the Azores. Two tugs took the Hathor in tow but the hawser parted. The big ship drifted on the rocks
off Scilly Isles, stranded there and sank directly on top of the Plympton.