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Author Topic: HMS Bulwark  (Read 20716 times)

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Offline kyn

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Re: HMS Bulwark
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2010, 13:55:20 »
It seems to me that the view expressed at B. of the Treasury Solicitor's note of 21st October is the right one.  I would inform the Medway Conservators that, while the Admiralty are under no obligation to remove the wreck and do not themselves consider the wreck a danger to navigation, they are, as an act of grace, willing to assist the Medway Conservators, if they desire that that the wreck should be removed.  I would make a first offer of the free provision of the explosives required.  I gather that at a rough shot the value of this is likely to be about 4,000.  I think I would be prepared to make the Admiralty an offer, if necessary, half of the total cost, that is to say, if the cost of the ammunition was actually 4,000, another 3,000 in cash.
I do not see why we should go beyond half the total cost.
It seems to me that Messrs. Berry, Wiggins & Co., who are more interested that anybody else, might well contribute something to the cost.  I think I should suggest to the Medway Conservators that they may care to consider inviting the company to contribute to the cost.
We should have to get Treasury approval to making any offer of the kind I have suggested.

RHM
1st November, 1937.


Offline kyn

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Re: HMS Bulwark
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2010, 12:00:29 »
A resume of the contract position is given in the Department's remarks of the 11th October in P.O.9327 attached.
Medway Conservators and Messrs. Berry Wiggins & Co. allege that the wreck impedes and endangers navigation and urge that the wreck should completely be dispersed, and Captain Plugge, M.P. supports the application.  Subject possibly to any further remarks by the Commander in Chief, Nore, D. of N. and Hydrographer see no reason for dispersing the wreck unless the clear approach to Messrs. Berry Wiggins Pier is in any way an Admiralty responsibility.
Treasury Solicitor advises that the Admiralty are not responsible for the removal of the wreck and provided the responsibility - which we have assumed - for marking and lighting is properly discharged, no liability attaches to the Admiralty for damage caused to a vessel by the wreck, and that the question of any steps being taken for its removal is one of policy.
In these circumstances, and following the previous decision on C.P.36235/36, the reply could be on the lines at "A" of Solicitor's remarks.  It is however necessary to draw attention to his remarks at "B" in which he makes an alternative suggestion grounded on a moral obligation on the Admiralty to do something in the matter, and D.N.E. supports this view.
In this connection it is pointed out that the Dover Industries' offer is to disperse the wreck for 10,000, but in addition they want 50 tons of explosives free of charge, so that dispersal would be a very costly matter.  The form of guarantee for satisfactorily completion of the work would also require careful consideration.
Dover Industries with their knowledge of the wreck and local conditions, should be in the most favourable position to make an offer but it is possible, of course, other Contractors might be prepared to undertake the work on more reasonable terms.  If therefore, it should be decided to disperse the wreck, it would be proposed to consider the question of inviting tenders from various Salvage Contractors including the South Stockton Shipbreaking Co. who are at present working on the wreck of the NATAL.
Submitted

???  Bussill
D. of C.
28/10/37

Offline kyn

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Re: HMS Bulwark
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2010, 11:44:51 »
Wreck of H.M.S. Bulwark

I agree generally with the position as stated in your minute of the 20th instant.  It is a little surprising to learn that N.L. are not acquainted with the circumstances in which the ship sank!  My recollection is that at an early stage of the war she blew up with the loss of all on board except one.  It proved I think impossible to find out the cause of the explosion, but there was no evidence of any negligence on the part of any Admiralty officer or servant, and it has always been denied that the Admiralty were in any way responsible for the removal of the wreck, though they have assumed the responsibility for marking and lighting it.  Provided that that responsibility is properly discharged, I do not think any liability attaches for damage caused to a vessel by the wreck.

The question therefore of any steps being taken for the removal of the wreck is in effect one of policy.  The Conservancy might perhaps be informed that whilst the Admiralty would continue to accept responsibility for the marking and lighting of the wreck, they had never admitted and could not accept any liability to remove it bu????????????????? Of the presumed advantages to the increased traffic in the harbour, the Conservancy were prepared at their own expense to undertake the removal or dispersion of the wreck, the Admiralty would accord them full liberty to do so.

I have however always held the view that a strong moral obligation rests on the Admiralty to remove wrecks of H.M. vessels which may be dangerous or obstructive to navigation:  and if this view finds support, an alternative course would be to approach the Conservancy with a view to arriving (without prejudice) at some arrangement for the removal of the wreck by the Admiralty on terms e.g. that some portion of the expense be borne by the Conservancy.

???
21st October 1937


Offline busyglen

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Re: HMS Bulwark
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2010, 16:40:57 »
I've been reading this with interest as a friend of ours was very interested in HMS Bulwark and did quite a bit of research on it and eventually wrote a book about.  He moved to Portsmouth and was involved in the formation of the HMS Bulwark, Albion and Centaur Assoc. and was instrumental in arranging the Commemoration here in 2004.  My husband having Naval contacts helped with the arrangements on the Island and arranged for the tug to take the VIPs out to the wreck site to lay wreaths and there was a short service. There was also a service at the Sheerness Memorial, and the plaque you have shown, was attached to the back fence.  Sheppey
 Sea Cadets also took part, and afterwards all of the guests went back to their Unit for refreshments.  The following day there was a service at Gillingham Cemetery where several men were buried.  It was a very touching and fitting weekend of remembrance.

Sadly, our friend was taken ill several weeks before the event, and was unable to attend, and died a month later.  He had tried to get his book published, but at that time nobody was interested.  His wife also tried and we suggested several avenues, but then sadly she passed away also. It would be interesting if I could get hold of the book, if it is still held by the family.
A smile is a curve that straightens things out.

Offline alkhamhills

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Re: HMS Bulwark
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2010, 09:46:28 »
Very interesting story, Kyn. What happened next? When I was working on the Medway (from Sheerness), in the 1970s, I cannot remember anything about this wreck. So I presume it must have been made safe

Offline kyn

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Re: HMS Bulwark
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2010, 19:12:46 »
From precious opinions of the Solicitor, it appears that provided the wreck of our H.M. ship is properly marked, the Admiralty is not liable for any damage which might result from a ship colliding with the wreckage.  The wreck is within the Dockyard Port of Sheerness, but the Dockyard Ports Regulations Act merely permits the K.H.M. to remove a wreck which obstructs navigation it does not place upon him the duty of doing so.  In the case of Chatham and Sheerness the specific duty of marking wrecks would appear to fall upon him.

According to the Medway Conservators (?)(N.L. 3488/37 now attached) and Messrs Berry Wiggins and Co. the wrecks, although marked, impedes and endangers navigation.  If this were the case of a merchant ship the Medway Conservators would have the duty of removing it and would recover the expenses from the owner, unless defeated by a plea of abandonment which would be valid if the sinking of the ship was not due to any negligence on the part of the owners.  The Conservators powers do not extend to wrecks of H.M. ships.

The circumstances in which the Bulwark sank are not know in N.L. not whether negligence on the part of the Captain and crew caused the sinking but in any case the general exemption of the Crown would prevent any action for damages against the Admiralty; the officers responsible for the sinking of ???

Ooops I didn't photograph the following page :(

Offline kyn

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Re: HMS Bulwark
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2010, 12:36:25 »
Dover Industries now offer to disperse this wreck to a depth of 35ft. at low water for the sum of 10,000, the Admiralty to supply up to 50 tons of explosive.
In view of the Company's remarks will Dept. please say whether there are any reasons for departing from the decision given on C.P. 36235/36 attached.
Very early remarks would be appreciated.
H. Ford.
D. of Contracts
23-9-37

Offline kyn

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Re: HMS Bulwark
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2010, 21:19:12 »
The contract position is set forth in C.P.35235/36 attached.
The Company have the option to abandon the wreck and could have done so last May but decided to carry on operations for a further season.
The Company have now given notice of their intention to abandon the wreck on the 30th September.  It becomes necessary, therefore, to make arrangements for the maintenance by the Admiralty of the marking and lighting as from that date, and also to ascertain whether the conditions refereed to at "A" and "B" of the copies of letters dated 8th May and 2nd August, 1935, enclosed, have been duly complied with.
If no objection is seen, perhaps you will take necessary action regarding these points.  You will see that the matter is urgent.
The question of dispersal of the wreck was carefully explored early this year, but in view of the Company's remarks, this matter will be taken up by this Department on return of these papers.

E.C.?uff
D. of C.
15/9/37

Offline kyn

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Re: HMS Bulwark
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2010, 12:12:27 »
DOVER INDUSTRIES LIMITED
SHIPBREAKERS
IRON, METAL, MACHINERY & RUBBER MERCHANTS
RAILWAY MATERIAL
THE DOCKYARD
DOVER
9th September, 1937.
The Director of Navy Contracts,
Admiralty,
London, S.W.1.

Dear Sir,
Wreck. H.M.S. "Bulwark".
We have nearly completed our third years' work on this wreck, the main result being that we will have benefitted by experience only, and are left with the conviction the profitable salvage work cannot be expected in the future.
It is therefore our intention to abandon the wreck at 30th instant, and we might add that it has been a thankless struggle against strong tides, mud and indescribably shattered wreckage made more difficult by lack of any visibility under water.
We hope the Admiralty still have in mind the question of dispersing this wreck for although the area has now been made safe for small craft, there being 14ft. of water over the highest points of all wreckage at low tide, it still remains a great menace to larger ships, particularly the Oil Tankers that have to call at the Oil Jetty recently built ahead of the "Bulwark" wreckage.
To reach this Jetty, ships have to closely detour the submerged wreckage and although this is a fairly safe manoeuvre in good conditions it can be just the reverse in bad weather.  We have seen enough of the area in winter time with S. Westerly winds prevailing, to know that if one of these ships were ever swept across an ebb tide se would have the greatest difficulty in avoiding a drift onto wreckage.
Apart from this, we have seen vessels occasionally disregard the wreck buoy and pass on the North side, actually over the wreckage.  As an instance of this, we mention that one of the Medway passenger steamers passed 350 ft. on the inside of the wreck buoy when at that time, there was high wreckage on this area, and an hours difference in the state of tide might easily have meant disaster.
These are the plain facts as we have seen them during our three years work and whether we do the dispersal work or someone else, it is in our opinion an absolute necessary for the safety of men and ships that the wreck be properly dispersed.

Offline kyn

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HMS Bulwark
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2009, 14:50:01 »
Plaque behind Sheerness War Memorial

 

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