HMT Invercauld, Armed Mine Sweeper.

Pennant: FY 1938 (Or FY1828)
Fishing Number: FD358 (Other Fishing Numbers, GY254, GN47, A744)
Other Names: Sapphire. Margaret Morris.
Year Constructed: 1917
Built by: Cochrane & Sons Shipbuilders Ltd. (Selby, U.K.) 
Owner: New Dock Steam Trawling.
Engine: Holmes C. D. & Co. Ltd., Hull. triple expansion engine, 1 boiler, 1 screw
Gross Tons: 262 tons
Length: 122 feet
Beam: 22.6 feet
Depth: 12.25 feet
Armament:  1 x 6 pounder gun.

1917 to 1919. The Invercauld served as a minesweeper during the First World War.

July 1940. Requisitioned by the Admiralty.

Minesweeping Group 144 – minesweeping trawlers FRIESLAND (Sk F McKay R.N.R), INVERCAULD (Ty Sk J W Carter R.N.R), both at Belfast.

January 1942. ROYAL NAVY SHIPS, Nore Command, Sheerness. (Wildfire III, Queenborough)
Minesweeping Depot Ship - ST TUDNO at Queenborough Pier, Isle of Sheppey.
Minesweeping Group 172 - minesweeping trawlers INVERCAULD, ZAREBA, both at Harwich.

November 1945. Returned to owner.

18th October 1950. The Invercauld ran aground off the coast of Iceland, all the crew were saved by an Icelandic patrol boat which responded to their Mayday Signal. The Captain was found to be at fault by leaving two inexperienced men in charge of his vessel.

To find out more of the Invercauld movements go to DRIFTERS AND TRAWLERS.

Not Listed.

Not Listed.

Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., J. H. McVea, 8 Jan 41.
Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., A. G. Stephen, 21 Jan 41.

Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., J. H. McVea, 8 Jan 41.
Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., A. G. Stephen, 21 Jan 41.

Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., J. H. McVea, 8 Jan 41.
Temp. Sub-Lieut., R.N.V.R., E. J. Gunning, 14 Sep 42.

Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., J. H. V. Docwra, (In Command) 20 Aug 43
Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., E. J. Gunning, 14 Sep 42.

Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., N. R. Pettit (In Command) 10 May 45
Temp. Lieut., R.N.V.R., E. J. Gunning, 14 Sep 42

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(No. S.418)

s.t. "Invercauld" O.N. 139320

In the matter of a Formal Investigation held at Aberdeen on the Twenty-eighth day of May, 1951, before Alexander James Louttit Laing, Esq., Judge, assisted by Captain C. V. Groves, Captain P. S. Robinson and W. Walker, Esq., into the circumstances attending the stranding and total loss of the s.t. "Invercauld", near Skagi Light, Iceland, on October 18th, 1950.
The Court, having carefully inquired into the circumstances attending the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds for the reasons stated in the Annex hereto, that the casualty was due to the default of her skipper, Albert Scott Henderson Robb, in respect that he left the vessel in charge of two uncertificated members of the crew whilst navigating close to a dangerous coast at night.

The Court suspends the skipper's certificate for a period of six months from this date and made no order as to expenses.

Dated this Thirtieth day of May, 1951.

This Inquiry was held at the Sheriff Court, Aberdeen, on Monday, May 28th 1951.

Mr. A. Milne appeared for the Ministry of Transport, and Mr. Maurice Cramb represented the skipper.

The s.t. "Invercauld" was owned by the Planet Steam Fishing Company Limited, of Edinburgh, and managed by Messrs. George Robb& Sons Limited, Commercial Quay, Aberdeen. She was a single screw steam trawler built of steel in 1917 by Messrs. Cochrane& Sons Limited at Selby, Yorkshire. Her registered dimensions were 121.8 feet in length, 22.65 feet beam, and 12.25 feet in depth. Her gross tonnage was 261.92. Her propelling machinery consisted of a triple expansion, reciprocating engine supplied with steam by one cylindrical multitubular coal-fired boiler. The engine and boiler were constructed by Messrs. C. B. Holmes and Company Limited, of Hull. The vessel was not classed.

The s.t. "Invercauld" was commanded by Skipper A. S. H. Robb, with a crew of twelve all told, and sailed from Aberdeen on October 2nd 1950 for the Icelandic fishing grounds. On October 16th, boiler trouble developed, as a result of which the skipper found it necessary to cease fishing and proceed to port to get the defect repaired. His original intention was to make for Vestmannaeyjar, but as the damage got progressively worse he decided to make for Reykjavik, which was considerably nearer. Shortly before midnight on October 17th, cross bearings were obtained of the unlighted island of Eldey and Reykjanes Light. The former bore S.S.W. and the latter E.S.E. From this position a course was set by skipper Robb with the intention of passing three miles off Skagi Light then distant about 19 miles. The weather at this time was clear, with the moon at full, and the wind S.E. force 4-5 with a slight S.W. swell. Skipper Robb left the wheelhouse about 12.30 a.m. on the 18th of October, leaving the vessel in charge of deckhands Deans and Mearns. Deans was then at the wheel, and Mearns on the lookout. Before going below, the skipper gave orders for these two deckhands to call him when Skagi Light was abeam, and to be careful not to let the vessel get inside her course line. According to the evidence of Mearns, the skipper told him that there was a possibility of the compass being affected by local magnetic disturbances, but this was not corroborated by Deans. Skipper Robb then went to his room which was adjacent to the wheelhouse, leaving these two uncertificated men in charge of the vessel. From this time, about 12.30 a.m., neither of these men appeared to have anticipated any impending danger. Later, as Deans informed the Court, he sighted a shore light which he was unable to identify. He did not, however, inform the skipper that he had sighted this light. Both Deans and Mearns were emphatic in stating that during their time on watch, the vessel did not deviate from its north easterly course. However, at 2.10 a.m. on October 18th, Deans, who was then on the lookout, noticed that Skagi Light was abeam, and he accordingly went below to inform the skipper who immediately came to the wheelhouse. As soon as skipper Robb arrived on deck, he saw broken water ahead, and at once ordered the engines to be put full speed astern. This action came too late, and in about 30 seconds the "Invercauld" struck the rocks. The astern movements of the engines proved ineffectual, as the tide was ebbing; the propeller however was in deep water. A distress call was sent out, the ship's lifeboat was prepared for lowering, and the skipper gave orders to abandon ship. In the meantime, an Icelandic patrol boat arrived and took off the entire crew of the trawler without loss of life. The Master of the patrol boat told Skipper Robb that there was no hope of salvaging the "Invercauld", as no vessel which had stranded on Skagi had been known to get off. About 7 a.m. heavy seas were observed to be breaking over the "Invercauld", and it was apparent that there was no hope of her salvage.

The Court is fully satisfied that when the "Invercauld" left Aberdeen on October 2nd she was in a thoroughly seaworthy condition, and equipped with all necessary navigation and life-saving equipment. She appears to have been carefully navigated up to approximately 11.30 p.m. on October 17th when, with Eldey Island bearing S.S.W. and Reykjanes Light bearing E.S.E., the course was altered to N.E. in order to reach the position off Skagi Light. In view of the warnings on the charts regarding the possibility of magnetic disturbance, this course would have been a risky one, even had there been a qualified officer in charge capable of taking the compass error and verifying the ship's position from shore lights, which must have been plainly seen had a proper lookout been kept. It was a dangerous course to set when the navigation of the ship was left in the hands of two uncertificated seamen without any supervision and who admitted in evidence that they had no knowledge of navigation and had not seen the chart of the waters they were navigating, although there was such a chart available for their inspection in the skipper's cabin. There appears to be no valid reason why, in the special circumstances stated, either the skipper or the mate should not have been on the bridge, particularly in view of the fact that the mate had been off duty from 6 p.m. on 17th October. Although the skipper was fully dressed and prepared to come on the bridge if called, it seems inexplicable that between approximately 12.30 a.m. and 2.10 a.m. when Skagi Light was reported, he took no steps to verify the vessel's position, but entrusted its navigation entirely to these two uncertificated men. The suggestion that magnetic disturbances might probably have contributed to the stranding is not supported by evidence, and as the difference between the course steered and the course made good is only two degrees, such magnetic disturbance, if any, could not have caused the loss of the trawler had a safer course been set or a proper lookout kept.

In the view of the Court, Skipper Robb placed an unwarrantable amount of faith in the competence of Deans and Mearns to take charge of the navigation of the "Invercauld", as he should have been fully aware of their lack of navigational ability.

The Court is of the opinion that the cause of the stranding and subsequent loss of the s.t. "Invercauld" were directly due to the default of Skipper Robb in setting too fine a course when closing the land, and in leaving the vessel in the charge of uncertificated men and failing personally, or through the mate, to check the progress of the vessel along the coast.

The Court takes a very serious view of the action of Skipper Robb in neither personally supervising the navigation of his vessel, nor calling out the mate for that purpose. The Court feels that severe penalty is merited, but bearing in mind his many years of good service at sea, considers that leniency should be extended. The Court accordingly restricts the suspension of his certificate to a period of six months from this date.

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The Invercauld would have looked like this model of a Trawler.

Minesweeping Trawler.
Wildfire III, Queenborough.

The Invercauld, a fishing trawler, served as a Minesweeper in both World War One and World War Two. Based at Belfast in 1940 and Wildfire III, Queenborough, in 1942 the Invercauld survived the extreme dangers of mine sweeping during the war only to come to grief five years later when she ran aground off Iceland.

Watch these short minesweeping videos.
A Bad Day in December 1940: