North Yorkshire Coast Shipwrecks

Wednesday 28th August, 2019 by Host & Stay

Under the surface of the North Sea, shipwrecks litter the North Yorkshire coast. It’s hard to believe the beautiful, relaxing coastline we see today is home to over 50,000 wrecks. In today’s blog, we’re highlighting the shipwrecks that can still be seen on the coast.

Estimates have shown that since 1500, there has been two shipwrecks per week. The 1900s were a particularly significant period. Due to lax shipping regulations, coal barges were often inadequate, overloaded and swamped. Powerful currents, dangerous rocks and turbulent storms effected merchant and fishing boats. In 1869 alone, there were 838 shipwrecks between Spurn Head and Teesmouth which was an average of two per day.

Thankfully, this number has fallen to almost none in recent years due to advances in maritime technology.


The remains of SS Rosa can be found at West Scar, North Landing near Flamborough. A lump of metal the size of a small car can be seen wedged in the rocks. This is the boiler from the once incredible Royal Navy fuel barge, SS Rosa, which went down in 1930. Amazingly, the 16-man crew were rescued by the Flamborough lifeboat.


Radium was an Italian cargo ship which sank in 1923 in thick fog near Bempton Cliffs. As you approach the RSPB reserve, you might spot the boilers and propellers. Radium was sailing to Venice from Newcastle, carrying around 5000 tonnes of coal. The full crew were rescued.


Along the coast near Robin Hood’s Bay, you’ll find Sarb-J. The fishing trawler originally sank in 1994 when its propeller got caught in rope and until recently, you could see the full shipwreck. The boat has since broken away but if you check the tide, you can still see part of it perched on its keel under the cliff.


You’ll find the wreck of Admiral Von Tromp along the coast at Saltwick Bay, near the Black Nab. Tromp sank in 1976 although nobody is entirely sure what exactly happened. Whitby lifeboat attended the scene but struggled to get close to the crew safely. Sadly two crew members were swept away by the sea but after a struggle, the rest of the crew were rescued.


The coal barge and harbour tug, Creteblock, sank in 1947 when it was being towed away to be scrapped. It hit shallow water at Whitby Scar and went under at Saltwick Nab. The wreckage was blown up to avoid a hazard to other shipping so you will only be able to spot the concrete debris today.

Have you spotted any of these shipwrecks whilst exploring the North Yorkshire coast?

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