Panorama of First World War Spanish Prince Wreck Site, Dover Harbour, Kent, UK

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John Latter on July 17, 2010

This panoramic scene of where the 1894-built Spanish Prince currently rests at the bottom of Dover Harbour is best viewed by right-clicking on the above photo and then opening the larger version in a new tab or window (this is the first 2:1 photo I've uploaded and I'm not sure if the ratio "works" - any feedback would be appreciated!)

The stern of the 450-feet long Spanish Prince, scuttled during the First World War as a blockship (more info below), is marked by the North Cardinal Wreck Buoy - black spar top, yellow base - on the left-hand side of the photo below the Seafrance ferry. The bow is located just before, and on the far side of, the dias supporting the Dover Breakwater West End Light (the lighthouse) at the western end of the Southern Breakwater. An underwater view of the wreck is shown in the detailed Spanish Prince Multi-beam Sonar Survey Image.

The Waasland Sea Barge on the left, and Gaverland Sea Barge on the right, are both owned by Herbosch Kiere Marine Contractors. The barges are in Dover to remove the Spanish Prince in order to facilitate future port development and are shown moored on the far side row of red marker buoys, visible on other Spanish Prince photos, that have been laid along the length of the wreck to define the work area.

The photo, best viewed in a larger size, was taken at 4.53 pm on Thursday, 1st July 2010, from the Admiralty Pier. Two close-ups of the barges were also taken this day:

The first, Rust-covered remains of the Spanish Prince blockship wreck, shows the Waasland and describes how the Sarah Grey workboat and Haven Seafield flat top barge are used to transport the remains recovered from the wreck site to the Jetfoil Basin. Technical details of the Waasland are contained in the captions to the Waasland Sea Barge and Waasland Sea Barge 2 photos.

The second close-up, Gaverland Flatbed Sea Barge, Southern Breakwater, Dover Harbour, shows the barge as it appears above and also lists the barge's technical info. Because the Gaverland crane's boom/jib is in the "down position", I'll upload another photo sometime showing the crane in use.

Click to see all Spanish Prince photos.

Elsewhere in the photo: From left to right, the three ferries are the Seafrance Nord Pas de Calais (owned by Seafrance), the Norman Trader (owned by LD Lines and behind the Waasland), and the Pride of Canterbury (owned by P and O Ferries). I'll upload a photo of the Norman Trader when I have time.

The Eastern Arm pier, to which the Norman Trader is berthed, juts out from the Eastern Docks (the cross-channel ferry terminal) below the White Cliffs of Dover.

At the end of the Eastern Arm is the Eastern Entrance to the Straits of Dover and English Channel beyond. The Eastern Entrance is bracketed by the far end of the Southern Breakwater. At the near end of the Southern Breakwater, and currently undergoing maintainance, is the Dover Breakwater West End Light: Built 1909. Active; focal plane 21 m (69 ft); red light, one 3 second occultation every 30 seconds. 22 m (73 ft) round cast iron tower with lantern and gallery, painted white (1). The Western Entrance lies between the the near end of the Southern Breakwater and the Admiralty Pier.

Above the cliffs on the far left of the photo is the Dover Coastguard Station (Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre) of the Maritime Coastguard Agency.

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). (2)

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).

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. (2)

On Monday, 26th April 1897, during a voyage from Cardiff (Wales) to Norfolk (Virginia, USA), she hit an iceberg and limped into Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada) 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. (3)

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. (3)

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. (4)

In 1921 she was transferred to Admiralty, and in 1936 the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. War Sepoy was damaged and burnt out during a Stuka 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. (4)

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

(1) Lighthouses Depot (2) From Ships in the Port of Dover, Western Entrance Blockships. (3) From The Red Duster website: Prince Line. (4) 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 August 2, 2010

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.

Click to see the connection between Charles Lightoller of the Titanic and the Spanish Prince blockship of Dover Harbour (photo shows Lightoller's old home at 8 East Cliff, Marine Parade, Dover).

John Latter on August 8, 2010

Click to see other Panoramic views of Dover.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on July 10, 2010
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2010/07/01 17:04:57
    • Exposure: 0.003s (1/400)
    • Focal Length: 38.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/11.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash