Wick Coastguard Rescues. 


Stellatus  Tuesday 3rd March 1959


As reported by The Press and Journal (Wednesday 4th March 1959)

Station Officer (Wick) Eric Scott Campbell


"Crew Abandon Ship Aground."

Badly holed and with water in her engine room and forward hold, the Swedish cargo ship Stellatus (1800 tons) which went shore on the Caithness coast early yesterday, (3rd March 1959), was abandoned yesterday.  The ship was carrying a cargo of wood pulp, is lying parallel to the land under a high cliff, about 120 yds from the beach.  The salvage tug Metinda III, which went out from Scapa to stand by for a salvage attempt, returned to Scapa  late last night.

Swedish cargo ship Stellatus - The Press & Journal

(This picture is reproduced from the original Press and Journal newspaper - with kind permission.)

An aerial picture of the Swedish cargo ship Stellatus aground on a rock shelf under high cliffs near John O'Groats. 

(Click in picture to enlarge)

With a crew of twenty-six, she left Obo, in Finland on Saturday for Ellsmere Port, near Liverpool.  She ran aground in thick haze.  Wick lifeboat took off twelve of the crew about mid-day and landed them at Wick. They included stewards and engineers. The master, Captain Gunnar Klint Berg (South Sweden) and the rest of the crew were taken off when the lifeboat went out again in the afternoon, being landed at Wick at 8p.m.

Capt. Berg said: "At the moment, it is intended that we go back aboard the vessel tomorrow to see if anything can be done to salvage her, but it is a matter which will have to await the views of the insurance people."

He had been at sea for forty years and in command of the Stellatus for five. He said: "This is the first accident I have had." The captain and crew went to the local Deep Sea Mission for a meal. The crew spent the night at the mission hostel and the officers at a local hotel.

When the Wick lifeboat arrived back after it's first trip, coxswain Neil Stewart said: "We had no difficulty in getting alongside. The men were able to come off easily." Oiler Charles Oinsson (62) said: "I was on watch in the engine-room when the ship struck at 4.25am. We were at half speed and there was not much impact. We had been dodging about awaiting daylight to go through the Pentland Firth. There was a fairly dense fog at the time."

Stellatus crew resuced by lifeboat = The Press & Journal

(This picture is from the original Press and Journal newspaper - with kind permission.)

Twenty-six men were aboard the Stellatus when she ran aground in fog yesterday morning (Tuesday 3rd March 1959).  Here are some of the crew being landed by Wick lifeboat. 

(Click in picture to enlarge)

Chief Steward Ivor Holm (43) said: "Water rose fairly quickly in the holds and engine-room and soon we had neither steam nor light." Youngest crew member is mess boy Ake Engstrom (17) who was on his first trip. The ship, twenty-two years old was built in Norway. She had been lying up for repair for months prior to this voyage.

Further stories of the Stellatus can be read (with photo's) as reported by:
the "The Coastguard" magazine
the "John O'Groat Journal" newspaper Back to Wick Rescue's page


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