The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme

James Barrie

On 26 March 1969 the James Barrie, a 666-tonne trawler from Hull, was making her way to fishing grounds in Iceland when she ended up hard on the rocks at the south side of Louther, one of the Pentland Skerries.

The accident happened just after 8pm and a lifeboat arrived on the scene at 10.45 pm.

The boat was well up on the rocks with just her stern in the water. There were liferafts on deck and, seeing no immediate danger, two lifeboats stood by the ship all night. It was thought that an attempt could be made to refloat her at 8am the following morning, when the tide would be high.

The skipper, James Brocklesby said later,: "We saw the reef but were too late to avoid it and stuck fast."

The James Barrie

The following morning weather conditions worsened and the boat began to rock. The ship had been badly holed and was leaking, and water was coming into the engine room. The skipper gave the order to abandon ship, and all men got off safely. They were picked up by one of the lifeboats and landed at Wick.

Two days later the ship freed itself and floated off the rocks with no crew on board. Taken in tow by Kirkwall lifeboat, they headed for Scapa Pier, but moving the ship meant that more water ran into her, and eventually she sank off Hoxa Head.