Shipwreck Research Information

Ships Name: TAMARA XII

Date Lost:  18/02/1923

Ex:  Naworth Castle,      Ex. Tarpenbek.

Official number:

     Signal code: RBPF

Ship Type:   Ship

Cargo :

Cause:  Foundered ?

Wind :E-SE Gale

Sea State: Rough

Crew : 16 or 18

Crew Lost: All


Pass Lost :

T/Lost :

P of Registry :  Hamburg

Flag : German

Owner : Nordische Handels, Ges. Hachfeld, Fischer. G.m.b.H

Shipbuilder : W. Pickersgill & Sons

Construction : Steel

Where Built : Sunderland

Year Built : 1892

Propulsion : Full Rigged Sailing Ship

Boilers : 0

Gross Tons : 1871

Net:   1767 (tons)

Length : 265.0

Breadth : 39.2

Ships Draft : 23.2    (ft )

Armament :

Voyage From : Leith

Voyage To : Hamburg

Location A : East of Orkney

Location B :

Latitude : 

Longitude : 

Depth :

Captain : Magnus. Fredrich. Johann.         Allwardt. Of  Warnemunde


THE ORCADIAN.                                                       Thursday February 22nd, 1923.



                                      The Toll of the sea.

                         Wreckage washed ashore in Orkney.

                            Steamer lost off Suleskerry.         

                                          Master & Mate dead.

                                      Fate of Ship TAMARA XII.

                                         Ships boat with body at Sanday.

                                 Gallant Effort by Longhope men.

                                  Engulfed by mountainous seas.

    The Strong easterly winds continued unabated on Saturday and news of a vessel in distress reached Kirkwall shortly after 7 o'clock in the evening. The lighthouse keeper on Copinshay was the first to observe the signals of distress, which came from a ship, which was between Copinshay and Pentland Skerries.

    The vessel when observed was apparently illuminated with electric light. Later reports stated that these bright lights had given place to a dim one, and later this to disappeared.

LIFEBOATS CALLED OUT.  The Stromness and Longhope lifeboats were summoned and launched with all possible speed. The Stromness boat reached Holm, the intention being to enlist the services of a pilot to take the boat through the obstructions in Holm Sound. This however was found unnecessary as by the time Holm was reached the lights of the vessel had disappeared. The Stromness lifeboat therefore returned to Stromness.

   The Longhope lifeboat notwithstanding the terrible conditions at sea, gamely made its way through the Pentland Firth, and cruised for some time between the Pentland Skerries and Copinshay. The crew were unsuccessful in their search however, and regretfully were forced to return to port.

   With the coming of daylight on Sunday the lighthouse keepers eagerly scanned the troubled waters but could find no trace of any vessel. This led to the surmise that the vessel had either foundered or had only been temporarily disabled and been able to proceed on her voyage.

THE MYSTERY UNSOLVED.  On Sunday and Monday our representatives made exhausted enquiries but no definite information as to the vessels fate was obtainable.

DISASTER FEARED.  On Monday reports came to hand that wreckage has been washed ashore on a number of the islands. Part of a ships boat marked Tamarax II, was reported. This may have been mis-read for Tamara XII ., a sailing vessel according to Lloyds list of some 1700 tons. Tamara XII left Leith on 6th February. Large quantities of wreckage have been passing Copinshay for some days, including seaman's bunks; planks and a part of a mahogany table have also come ashore.

  At Deerness, a lifebuoy marked, Jupiter, Bergen - the name of the regular mail steamer which sails between Newcastle & Bergen- was picked up, as also lifebuoy's marked Hamburg at various places in the East Mainland. It was reported from Copinshay that papers, which may have belonged to a German vessel, had been found.

   From Shapinsay news came of a deck house being washed ashore but there was no indication as to the name of the ship to which it belonged, but it was of a larger type than found on trawlers.

    From Eday word was received that a door with the words ''officers Mess-room'' had been found, as well as other wreckage including the ''billboard'' for an anchor, apparently belonging to a vessel of some size.

    On Tuesday, news came to Kirkwall that a ships figurehead of some considerable size had come ashore at Howquoy Head, Holm.

     On Monday, forenoon, the trawler Star of the Realm arrived at Longhope and reported the picking up of two bodies off Suleskerry. The trawler also had on board survivors of the steamer Valur, of Hull, which had been lost off the Orkneys. Our Stromness correspondent in this column relates to the foundering of this vessel while an account of a mishap to a Grimsby trawler is also reported.

                                         OMINOUS FIND IN SANDAY.

The following message was received by the Orcadian on Tuesday, which seems to definitely settle the fate of the Tamara XII .  A ships boat marked ''Tamara XII, Hamburg'' with the body of a young man aboard wearing a lifebelt, was picked up by Mr Donald Tulloch, Fish house, below Scofferland, near Start Sound at 10 am this morning. The boat was badly damaged. Tamara XII was built by W. Pickersgill at Sunderland, in 1892 and christened Naworth Castle. She is a steel full-rigged sailing ship of 1767 tons register. Later the vessel was purchased by a German Firm and renamed Tarpenbek; later still was renamed Tamara XII, and is probably owned in Russia.  Tamara XII left Leith on 6th February, for Hamburg, thus encountering the full force of recent gales. It is unlikely that the ship showing distress signals off Copinshay on Saturday night was the Tamara XII, as wreckage which may have belonged to that vessel was picked up as early as Friday last. 



THE ORCADIAN.                                                               Thursday February 22nd, 1923.

                      Gallant effort by Longhope lifeboat.

                                 Experiences in whole gale.


                      From Aith hope to Copinshay in 2 ¾ hours.

Our Longhope correspondent writes;

 On Saturday evening about seven o'clock, a wire came through from the coastguard to Kirkwall stating, Copinshay reports vessel showing signals of distress between the South Ronaldshay   Copinshay. The message was immediately sent to the secretary and also phoned by the postmaster up to the station. A few minutes later the signal rockets were heard booming calling together the crew.


                                             An unfortunate delay.

 Soon all were in the boat. The winchman ready with hammer in hand to knock out the forelock, when the following the message came;'' Stromness boat going out, unless steamer available, Longhope should not go out''. an hour later another message was received, ''vessel in distress is now halfway between Copinshay and the Pentland Skerries, send your boat if you considered necessary''.


                                              Out in the darkness.

 Five minutes later to lifeboat was in the water. But a good hour had been unfortunately wasted, and, who knows what might have been accomplished in that time. The wind was East-Southeast, right into Aith hope. tacking a few times in the darkness, the Pentland Firth was reached, and eventually the Caithness side of the Firth. Then the boat was headed for the Skerries passing to the south Swona.

 In Bourgh Sounds a terrible sea it was encountered. Anyone who knows this Sound with the stream flood tide and a gale of wind to in the face of it for days will understand what the boats and crew went through in the dark, one mountainous wave completely covered her and the crew had a severe struggle to hold on. They were struck by three great rollers before they got through

                                                       The search.

Then began the search for the ship in distress, but no signals were to be seen down to within two miles or so off Copinshay. Then back for the Skerries again, but still and nothing to be seen, though the houses along the coast all seen to be lighted up. After a cruising for two hours and seen nothing the boats commenced the return journey, the ebb tide being in by this time.

 Coming back to the same the route Longhope pier was reached at 3 o'clock in the morning. The single man on duty at Brims noticed her lights coming past Swona, but before he got to Longhope pier the boat was alongside. The boat must have been a footing it to some tune.

For the pluck and daring we say ‘‘off hats to the Brims men'' and their boat. In an interview the coxswain said he had 40 years experience of lifeboat work, and some rough work too, but never in all his experiences had he met what they went through that night. Had it been daylight they may have been able to have shunned some of the worst places. His only regret was that they were not in time. Another member of the crew said that last April they thought the Loch Eribol trip was bad, but it was an excursion trip in comparison with that of Saturday night.

                                 Coxswain washed from wheel.

 Another correspondent writes,


The Longhope lifeboat was out on Saturday nights and Sunday morning in hand efforts to rescue the crew off and under no leader of vessel which was seen putting up signals offer in distress on Saturday evening

 Nearly washed overboard.

 Lifeboat left the slip at 9.00p.m. and reached Copinshay at 11.30. Surely a record in the strong gale of Southeast wind and heavy seas she encountered, especially going around the Lowther, where three terrible seas struck the lifeboat and washed the coxswain from the wheel and some of the crew all to one quarter. Had they not all have had a good grip of their ropes some of them were bound to have been washed out of her. The coxswain managed to get hold of the steering wires when going over the stern and so saved himself.

Crew’s disappointment.

All were soaking when they reached Copinshay, where they cruised about for about two and half-hours but could discover no trace of the vessel, which had shown the distress signals. The lifeboat crew were immensely disappointed; being firmly of the belief that had they been allowed to proceed when they were first notified one and half-hours earlier, they would have been able to render assistance.

 The boat and crew were ready to proceed within a few minutes of the first message being received, and it is a thousand pities that they were kept back, for thereby their heroic efforts were nullified.

Coxswain and crew were loud in their praises of the lifeboats behaviour and only regret they were too late to render assistance. It is hoped their efforts will be crowned with success on their next call of duty.


The Orcadian.                                                                                                    1st March 1923.

                     The path of the Storm - Another boat washed up.

As reported in our last issue a boat marked Tamara XII, Came ashore near Start Sound Sanday. It was a large lifeboat with air tanks, etc., complete. The body the young seaman also can ashore near the same spot. From the post-mortem examination it appears that the man died from exposure. There was nothing to identify the body, but it appears to be that of a foreign seaman. The body was clothed in oilskins, seaman's jacket, and sea boots. Another boat similar to the one found that Start Sound also came ashore as Sanday but there was nothing to identify the vessel to which it belonged.


   “Kirkwall, Feb. 20. – Boat belonging to ship Tamara XII., of Hamburg, containing body of young man, picked up off Start Point by fisherman this forenoon. Lifebelts belonging this vessel washed ashore Deerness yesterday.”

(Lloyd’s weekly casualty reports February 26 1923 page 212)

Under the heading “Miscellaneous. Derelicts and Wreckage”:-
“London, Feb. 20. – Fishermen on the desolate beaches of the Orkney Islands discovered a ship’s name-board made of mahogany, much battered, but apparently bearing the name “TAMARA XII.” . . . (Note. – The German ship TAMARA XII left Leith on Feb. 6 for Hamburg.)”

(LWCR February 26 1923 page 216)

 Under the heading “Overdue Vessels”:-
“London, May 28. – In reply to inquiry, Lloyd’s Agents at Hamburg write under date of May 23 that the owners of the ship Tamara XII., which left Leith on Feb. 6 for Hamburg, state that she must be considered as a total loss.”

(LWCR June 4 1923 page 195)

 Under the heading “Untraced Vessels”:-
“London, June 27. – In consequence of no information having been received of the following vessels since the dates given, closing entries have been made to-day against their names in Lloyd’s records:-

Tamara XII., ship, of Hamburg, 1871 tons gross, which left Leith on Feb. 6, 1923, for Hamburg.”
(LWCR July 2 1923, page 277)

The Tamara XII was a sailing vessel of 1767 tons net built in Sunderland by W. Pickersgill & Sons in 1892. Her previous names were Tarpenbek and Naworth Castle. She was owned by the Nordische Handels Ges. Hachfeld and was registered in Hamburg. Her dimensions were: 265.0 feet in length, 39.2 feet in breadth and 23.2 feet in depth. Her signal code was RBPF and her master was M. Allwardt. Stamped beside her entry were the words “Missing since 2,23.” (Source: Lloyd’s register 1923/4 [sail])

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