This marine chronometer was found on a ledge at 27m (first deep stop) on a dive on the wreck of the 'Manina', Sule Stack, Orkneys in September 1999.
Sule Stack lies forty miles west of the Orkney mainland, an isolated rocky outcrop, home only to a colony of seabirds.
The main wreck of the Manina lies scatterd down the near-vertical face of the stack from 15m to 44m on the bottom. Substantial amounts of wreckage lie strewn over the golden sandy seabed at 44m. Her stern and prop lie in 44m, rising to the bows at 15m.
Ship Name: MANINA (Ex.CORVUS)
WRECKED ON STACK SKERRY.
Nine men were lost, two of them are still missing, when the 1,333 ton Greek cargo ship Manina was wrecked on Stack Skerry 37 miles west of Orkney, early on Monday morning. Five survivors picked up by the Swedish tanker Vassijaure were taken to Stornoway.
It was just before five in the morning, when the Manina (formerly the Norwegian vessel Corvus), on passage from Bergen to Glasgow, radioed an SOS message saying she had grounded on the 120 ft Stack, which is five miles south-west of Sule Skerry Lighthouse. She said that one of the holds was full of water and that the crew, 14 strong, were abandoning ship.
The ship's red flares were seen by the Skerry lightkeepers. A combined sea and air rescue operation was immediately launched, with two Orkney lifeboats, various ships in the area and a Shackleton aircraft from RAF Kinloss all converging on the scene. A Force 7 westerly wind was blowing and there was a short steep swell. The Manina, built in 1947, was taking a very heavy pounding and in fact by midday she had disappeared entirely, broken up and sunk.
The Shackleton had to return to her base when she developed engine trouble and she was replaced by another aircraft. Squadron-Leader D.C. Matheson, on his return to Kinloss reported:
"When we were flying at 500 feet we saw three of the survivors on a raft. They were near a Swedish vessel which had nets slung over the side to help to get the men on board. There were several empty life jackets in the water and a lot of wreckage".
He had seen a body about a quarter of a mile away from the rocks where the Manina had grounded. The Swedish vessel was the tanker Vassajaure which with a British cargo ship, the Afghanistan, had quickly arrived at the Stack.
On their way too was the Stromness lifeboat. Coxswain Alfred Sinclair and the R.N.L.I. 70ft long range Grace Paterson Ritchie, which has been based in Kirkwall while undergoing winter trials in northern waters. For the two lifeboats it meant a long haul of some 4 to 5 hours.
Another ship soon assisting in the search was the Kalgalos. She picked up a body 5 1/2 miles from the rock 'The Ross Kipling', which was 25 miles NNW from the Stack radioed that she was making for the skerry. The fishery cruiser Norna 55 miles distant was also making for the scene. The Vassiure radioed at 7.30am that she had picked up five survivors on rafts. 25 minutes later she reported that she had come upon five dead seamen hanging on to an upturned lifeboat and rafts. The Afghanistan at 8.10am located a raft and an empty upturned lifeboat with 12 life jackets, but with no survivors, either on or near it. She continued her search, up to 10 miles down wind from Stack Skerry. The drama continued all morning. By that time, the two lifeboats had also joined the ships. The Stromness lifeboat picked up two bodies about a quarter of a mile from the Stack. At 1l.45am the aircraft signalled that she considered the search area had been adequately covered. The surface ships were thanked for their help and they proceeded on their voyage, leaving behind the two lifeboats and the aircraft to continue the search.
The Grace Paterson Ritchie circled round the Stack and radioed that there was nobody on the rock, no sign of the Manina, which had by then completely broken up.
Only two large oilslicks, a mass of wreckage and an upturned lifeboat marked the spot where the ship had met her fate. On duty right from the start of the Kirkwall Coastguard Station and throughout these operations were District Officer Jack Cleghorn. Station Officer William Gardens and Coastguard Edward Warman.
It was midday when the Vassijnure left, making for Lewis with the five survivors, and the five dead men, who included the master, Captain Victor Kaprokefalos. The Stornoway lifeboat met the Swedish tanker 12 miles off the mainland of Lewis and took the survivors and bodies back to Stornoway. The survivors included Vassilias Kyriacou, the second mate, who as he was being taken to Stornoway said:
"Nearly everyone was asleep this morning when this happened. The ship struck a rock and the forward hold started to fill up. We abandoned ship and seconds later she keeled over and broke up. I was on a raft with some others. We could see some of the men in the water but we could do nothing because we had no ropes or lifebelts to throw them".
"SO VERY COLD"
"It was really terrible. Within minutes all our clothes were wet and we had to keep rubbing ourselves and scratching ourselves to keep warm. Every time a wave came we thought we would capsize.
"Georgios Dumitriades, apprentice engineer, was in the sea for a long time. We found him hanging on to a lifeboat, which had overturned. We must have been adrift for about three hours before we were picked up. We were given tea and I don't remember much more. It was really terrible, so very cold."
The search by the aircraft and the 70ft lifeboat continued until late in the afternoon, the Stromness lifeboat leaving for home at 3pm with the two bodies she had picked up. She was unable to transfer these on to the Vassinure because of the heavy swell. With the bearings gone in one of her engines, she had to return at a reduced speed. She arrived back in Stromness at 8.45 p.m. while the Grace Paterson Ritchie was back in Kirkwall at 9.30pm. Stromness Lifeboat Coxswain Alfred Sinclair told the Orcadian.
"There was absolutely no sign of the Manina, only lots of wreckage of lifeboats, doors and tables. The seas were heavy and the spray breaking almost up to the top of the rock. We picked up the two bodies floating in the water with lifejackets a quarter of mile off the Stack. They were about 100 yards apart"
Two of the survivors flew to Kirkwall from Stornoway yesterday to identify the two bodies brought to Orkney by the Stromness lifeboat.
Formal identification took place in the mortuary of the Balfour Hospital.
This item is a standard 2-day ships chronometer to the usual pattern. The dial has 'REID & Sons, Makers to the Admiralty, Newcastle on Tyne' engraved on the face. There appears to be a serial number of '1748' engraved at the top of 'seconds' dial.
The glass and hands are missing, as well as the gimbal rings. However, the gimbal mounts are all intact and in place. The tub is in remarkably good condition, with very little signs of pitting. The face is in good condition, but all silvering has been lost. The entire contents of the tub have been cleaned and preserved. Almost all ferrous items had been destroyed, leaving numerous tiny fargile brass components.
Oct 1999 - Items declared to Receiver of Wreck as Droit 165/99.
March 2001 - Have been in touch with Julian Reid (Reid & Sons) whos family business produced/retailed this chronometer.
Julian has done some research on this particular unit. This throws a bit of a spanner in the works to say the least!.
It is clear that R & S was principally a retailer rather than a manufacturer, buying in chronometers from elsewhere, including Sewills, although they had their own workshops for adjusting, etc. by the 1930s, R and S was only 'assembling' clocks on a small scale.
According to the records of Reid & Sons, a chronometer with the number '1748' on the dial was bought as part of a batch from the manufacturer 'R Evans' in 1875. Reid and Sons purchased many chronometers from 'Evans' during the 1860s and '70s.
An entry in Reid & Sons records reads: 12 August 1875 Shop no. 971X, with 'Reid and Sons' and the number '1748' on the dial, purchased from 'Evans'.
the ledger also contains records of chronometers hired out to ship owners (clearly wanting to test before purchase). This records that Borries Craig and Co. hired chronometer no. 1748 from Reid and Sons on 15 February 1876 for use on board its ship "Byron", for the charge of 15/- per month. The Captain's name is given as 'Christensen' and the 'Owner' of the ship as one L. Larsen of Tredestand, Norway.
A later entry states: Chronometer 1748 sold 17 August 1876 to Borries Craig and Co. for its ship "Byron", Captain Chritisen, for £35.
Could it be that this chronometer was reused on a later vessel? Was this not the only chronometer sold by Reid & Sons with '1748' on the dial?
May 2001 - Julian has been in touch with an apprentice who joined the company in 1946. He states that Reid & Sons was right at the tale end of 'manufacturing' chronometers when he joined the business. Although chronometers, watches etc., were generally assembled in the workshop from components bought in, he still had to learn the necessary skills of machining parts, turning spindles, etc. He says that, because the assembly and sale of a chronometer was such a rare occurrence, he remembers clearly, some time after joining the business, in 1946 or '47, being entrusted with a chronometer to take to a ship's chandler's on Newcastle Quayside. He is quite emphatic that this chronometer was my chronometer and the last chronometer Reid and Sons ever sold. This does at least confirm that Reid and Sons were selling chronometers in the 1940s, if only rarely.
He did point out that, as clocks were generally assembled to order from parts already in stock, and that Reid and Sons assembled chronometers so rarely, it is quite possible that many if not all of the components had actually been made or purchased some time before World War II, which might help to account for the chronometer looking 'old-fashioned.'
If my chronometer is contemporary with the Manina/Corvus it must, at least, be one of the last Reid and Sons sold.
June 2001 - The plot thickens! Having examined the chronometer more closely, I have discovered a second serial number scratched onto all of the major components of the unit. This number is '1741' - very close to the number on the dial. I've also found a mark on the back of the dial which I believe is a 'service' date. It reads 'AYS 1187' which I take to mean 'AYS' serviced this unit in November 1887. If this is the case, then what was a 1875 chronometer doing on a ship in 1968??? and would it not have more 'service' marks on the unit to cover the intervening period?