Multibeam Sonar Survey Image of Spanish Prince Wreck, Dover Harbour, Kent, UK

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John Latter on July 3, 2010

Running along the bottom edge of the black area at top-left in the photo is the Southern Breakwater of Dover Harbour.

The Dover Breakwater West End Light, shown in the "second Wassland at the Prince of Wales Pier" photo (not yet uploaded) and in, for example, the MS Costa Magica Cruise Ship, Southern Breakwater photo, is located on the "bulb" at the right-hand (western) end of the breakwater.

To the right of the bulb is the open expanse of the Western Entrance, bounded by the out-of-shot Admiralty Pier further to the right, and above which are the Straits of Dover and English Channel.

As can be seen, the bow of the Spanish Prince lies about 90 feet from a point just to the left of the lighthouse. The ship is aligned approximately at right-angles to the breakwater so that her stern, marked by a wreck buoy, points towards the beach along Dover's seafront.

I don't know anything more about the type of multi-beam sonar system used to produce the above image, but the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website has an interesting on Sonar page which explains, for example, the differences between Active and Passive Sonar, and those between Side-scan and Multibeam Sonar ("SOund NAvigation and Ranging").

At the time of writing (Sunday, June 6th, 2010) the Waasland Sea Barge is in Dover Harbour preparing to remove part of the Spanish Prince wreck: see the captions to the Waasland Sea Barge, Spanish Prince Blockship Removal, Prince of Wales Pier photo for more information and for links to other Waasland photos.

The Dover Harbour Blockships:

Two cargoships, the Spanish Prince and Livonian, were scuttled at right-angles on each side of the Western Entrance in 1915 during the First World War. Before being put in place, the ships had their superstructures replaced with gantries (metal lattice-works) to which anti-torpedo and anti-submarine nets could then be attached (see Anti-Submarine Nets, North Entrance, Western Heights 1 and Anti-Submarine Nets, North Entrance, Western Heights 2). (1)

The Livonian was subsequently removed in the 1930s, but the Spanish Prince was left in a slightly altered position in order to reduce tidal flow in the harbour.

Other blockships were used during the Second World War, one of which was the RFA War Sepoy whose "front half" once occupied the disturbed area adjacent to the right-hand side of the Spanish Prince's stern shown in the sonar image (more about the War Sepoy below).

In the Second World War, the fleet oiler War Sepoy had her back broken in a Stuka attack in 1940 and was subsequently dragged across the Western Entrance in three pieces.

The Spanish Prince was built in 1894 by Charles Connell and Company at Glasgow with a tonnage of 6505grt, a length of 450ft, a beam of 52ft 2in and a service speed of 11 knots. She was launched on Wednesday, 6th June 1894, and completed in the following August as the Knight Batchelor for Greenshields, Cowie & Co. of Liverpool, a company whose history goes back to 1795. (1)

On Monday, 26th April 1897, during a voyage from Cardiff to Norfolk, she hit an iceberg and limped into Halifax four days later with 30 feet of her bow missing. Repairs cost 30,000 dollars. She was acquired by Prince Line in 1907 for 35,000 pounds and, as the Spanish Prince, was the company's largest ship and remained so until 1918. (2)

On Sunday, 5th October 1914, whilst in St. Nazaire Roads, she sustained damage to her hull when her anchor chain broke and she grounded. She was subsequently acquired by the Admiralty. (2)

The Spanish Prince was Newcastle registered.

The War Sepoy was built by William. Gray of Hartlepool, and launched on Thursday, 5 December 1918, War Sepoy was completed on Thursday, 6 February 1919 for Shipping Controller, and managed by Anglo-Mexican Petroleum Products Company, London. (3)

In 1921 she was transferred to Admiralty, and in 1936 the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. War Sepoy was damaged and burnt out during an air attack at Dover on Friday, 19 July 1940. She was filled with concrete, towed into position within the Western Entrance, and sunk as a blockship (in three parts) on Saturday, 7 September 1940. Disposal commenced on Tuesday, 2 May 1950, and the entrance was opened again on Sunday, 26 April 1964. (3)

Click to see all Ships photos (related tags: Boats, Ferries, Cruise Ship) and Lighthouse photos.

The photo is an enhanced version of an original supplied by Edmund Connell, see (1):

(1) From Ships in the Port of Dover, Western Entrance Blockships. (2) From The Red Duster website: Prince Line. (3) Forces Geneaology: RFA War Sepoy

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

This is the Images of Dover website: click on any red or blue "John Latter" link to access the Entry Page.

John Latter on July 3, 2010

Notice to Mariners No. 7/2010 issued by Dover Harbour Board on June 11th, 2010:


Works to remove the Western Entrance Block Ship are expected to commence on or after Wednesday 16th June and are currently programmed to last 10 weeks.

During this period the block ship position is to be marked by various small buoys and two 60m crane barges with legs and marked anchors will remain on station, principally to the east side of the site. The recovered steel will transported to the Jet Foil Basin by a tug and barge.

The Western Entrance will remain open for use but when manoeuvring in the vicinity all vessels are advised to exercise caution, proceed at slow speed and maintain a safe distance from the floating plant.

The North Cardinal Buoy, (Wreck Buoy), will remain on station until such time as it becomes necessary to lift it clear of the area to progress work at the northern end.

On completion of this work the charted depth will be increased to 8.5m over the entire area and the North Cardinal Buoy permanently removed.

Captain Roy Bird

Date 11th June 2010

Port Operations Manager/Deputy Harbourmaster Port of Dover

John Latter on July 3, 2010

As more photos of removing the Spanish Prince are going to be uploaded, I've created a Spanish Prince tag (this should be easier than trying to remember which photos should be cross-linked to which).

John Latter on July 4, 2010

Click to see the first photo to be uploaded of the Waasland`s crane holding part of the Spanish Prince.

Future photos will be found under the "Spanish Prince" tag.

John Latter on July 4, 2010

John Latter, on July 3, said:

The ship Spanish Prince is aligned approximately at right-angles to the breakwater so that her stern, marked by a wreck buoy, points towards the beach.

Click to see a photo of the North Cardinal Wreck Buoy

John Latter on July 14, 2010

Click to see a panoramic view of the Spanish Prince Wreck Site extending from the North Cardinal Wreck Buoy to the Dover Breakwater West End Light (the lighthouse) at the western end of the Southern Breakwater.

While I'm here, other vessels involved in the Spanish Prince project include:

Gaverland Flatbed Barge

Sarah Grey workboat

Haven Seafield flat top barge

Its difficult to keep track of what's happening in the harbour, and even more difficult to try and keep comments up to date on individual photos so as I said above, keep checking the Spanish Prince tag for the latest uploads!

An edit I've just noticed:

John Latter, on June 6th, 2010, said:

...The Dover Breakwater West End Light, shown in the "second Wassland at the Prince of Wales Pier" photo (not yet uploaded)...

Click to see the second Wassland at the Prince of Wales Pier photo.

John Latter on January 4, 2013

Commander Charles Herbert Lightoller DSC & Bar, RD, RNR (March 30, 1874 - December 8, 1952) was the second mate (second officer) on board the RMS Titanic, and the most senior officer to survive the disaster.

Lightoller joined the Royal Navy's "Dover Patrol" in 1916: click to see the connection between Charles Lightoller of the RMS Titanic and the Spanish Prince blockship of Dover Harbour (accompanying photo shows Lightoller's old home at 8 East Cliff, Marine Parade, Dover).

John Latter on January 9, 2013

Also see:

Pre-World War II English Channel Steamer, Dover Harbour, Kent, England, UK

A pre-Second World War photo showing the lattice-work gantries of the SS Spanish Prince and SS Livonian on the Pinterest Old Dover board.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on June 6, 2010
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX Optio S50
    • Taken on 2007/01/15 10:04:47
    • Exposure: 0.020s (1/50)
    • Focal Length: 8.20mm
    • F/Stop: f/3.100
    • ISO Speed: ISO100
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • Flash fired