Ships 2

Hathor and Plympton

Ships 3

The Hathor

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 world.


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.


Plympton Sinking