1917 SHIPWRECK SS BELEM CORNWALL
The ghostly and incongruous shipwreck of the SS Belem near Menachurch Point, N Cornwall, SW England, UK. The wreck was exposed after winter storms had shifted covering sand together with a very low spring tide. Looking aft from amidships, the propeller shaft, a boiler and hull ribs and support struts can be seen. The 1,925 ton Portuguese steamship SS Belem (formerly the German SS Rhodos) was stranded in thick fog here on 20th November 1917 while on passage from Gibraltar to Barry with ballast. The crew of 33 including two Royal Navy gunners (she was armed with a light gun aft), were brought ashore by rocket apparatus. She soon broke up and was deemed a total loss, being later partly salvaged for scrap. The remains are not always visible except on occasion when heavy seas scoop away the covering sand. I had to photograph it quickly as the tide was rushing in and the wreck site is quite remote with only sheer cliffs and a jagged rocky beach behind.
There is some speculation that she was one of several German ships interned by Portugal in 1916 and subsequently brought into use by the allies.
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