HMS VORTIGERN

POSITION.... 53 05 725N    001 22 159E

TYPE... V CLASS DESTROYER

LAID DOWN... 17/1/1917

LAUNCHED....5/10/1917

COMMISSIONED...21/01/1918

DIMENSIONS... LENGTH 95.1Mtrs  BEAM 8.8Mtrs  DRAUGHT 3Mtrs

BUILDER...J. SAMUAL WHITE, COWES, ISLE OF WHITE

PROPULSION...3 WHITE FORSTER TYPE WATER TUBE BOILERS, BROWN CURTIS STEAM TURBINES, X2 SHAFTS.

FUEL... OIL

LOSS DATE... 15/03/1942

CAUSE OF LOSS....SUNK BY GERMAN E BOATS

 

WEAPONS AT TIME OF SINKING (According to Navy sec-3rd sector heritage).

 

4x4" MK V (CENTRE LINE)  120 ROUNDS PER GUN

1x12 PDR HA (HIGH ANGLE LONG RANGE GUN FOR ANTI AIRCRAFT FIRE ONLY)

2x2 PDR POM POM

2x LEWIS GUNS

29 RIFLES

 

TORPEDOES

2x DR (DOUBLE REVOLVING TORPEDO TUBE)

2 MK 1V TORPEDOES (SIDE SLUNG)

2x DEPTH CHARGE THROWERS, 1 RAIL, 33 MINES

 

 

 

HMS Vortigern, a V Class destroyer built in 1917 was employed as a short range escort during WW11. On the 15th of March 1942 whilst escorting a coastal convoy (FS749) along with HMS GUILLEMOT she was torpedoed by a German S boat. From her crew, 147 men lost there lives with only 14 surviving the attack, this being the heaviest loss of RN personnel in any one ship in defence of an east coast convoy. 

All convoys held a prefix to there number, all dedicated convoy routes in-turn held the same prefix. FS in the case of FS 749 dictates the convoy set out from the Firth of Forth, its destination being the river Thames. The return, ie the river Thames to the Firth of Forth held the prefix of the letters (FN).

 

THE WRECK TODAY

Very broken in 20mtrs, widely dispersed with items of wreckage upto 400mtrs from the main site.

Due to the wrecks position it was seen to be a hazard to shipping. Despite the site being a war grave the Vortigern was dispersed with the use of explosives and wire swept to a clear depth of 19mtrs. The site is now protected under the protection of military remains act 1986. Diving on the site is permitted, however the removal of items and disturbance of the site is prohibited.

 

Triple torpedo bank being loaded

CONTRADICTIONS

 

As with much research into a wrecks history, there are many contradictions to be found, the Vortigern being no exception. In October 1940 the Vortigern is stated as being refitted and converted for short range escort duties. At the time of the Vortigerns sinking she is stated by the Naval Historical Unit as being armed with x2 twin revolving torpedo banks. In 1986 there was a report from divers that they had located a triple revolving torpedo bank complete with torpedoes close to the site of the Vortigern.

Records show that in October through to November 1940 she was refitted, in-turn her tripple torpedo banks were removed. In the half yearly Naval report for 1940 she is shown as still retaining her triple banks, however in October 1941, the half yearly report  shows her as only being armed with double torpedo banks, this therefore giving support to the claims that she was reffited as layed out by the Naval Historical unit. The question is, if what the divers have found is a triple torpedo bank, have the Naval records got it wrong, did she ever receive a refit, or was her refit incomplete??

 

 

Picture (Mandy Frary)

Present day Chairman, Steve Frary on the right, along with former Chairman and one of the clubs founder members, Roly Nurse. Each year Steve Frary, Mandy Frary and Roly Nurse lay a wreath on the grave of Petty officer Blundell, who was lost on the Vortigern.

Paul Hennessey

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