Fyne Pioneer, Loch Fyne

Site Name: Aska - Islay & Jura


Launched in August 1939 by Swan Hunter of Newcastle, and owned by British India Steam Navigation Co, the Aska was a steel steamship whose primary purpose was as a cruise liner. Her regular route was between Calcutta and Rangoon. She had 200 cabins but could also carry over 2000 deck passengers, and was crewed mostly by Indian citizens. She was hired into government service in WW2 as a troop carrier. She travelled without convoy due to her high top speed of 17 knots, believing this speed to be her best defence against the German U-boats.


On the Aska's final voyage her cargo was 350 French troops, some of whom were landed in France en route, 50 British troops, 9 passengers and 600 tons of cocoa. She left Freetown in September 1940, stopping at Bathurst on 7th September before setting sail independently for Liverpool. On 16th September 1940 at 2.30am she was bombed by German aircraft when between Rathlin Island and Maiden's Rock. She was hit in the engine rooms by two heavy bombs killing some of the crew instantly and setting the the liner on fire. In total, 12 members of her 184 strong crew were killed in this attack, including six officers. This was shortly followed by another bomb which wrecked the forecastle, turning the vessel into a floating inferno. Seeing the blaze, the remaining passengers and crew abandoned ship. The survivors all made it back to shore after being picked up by the HMS Hibiscous, HMS Jason and a fleet of trawlers. They were landed at various ports in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the North of England over the next few days, and this confusion meant that it was some time before a tally of survivors could be completed.


The Aska drifted to Cara, near Gigha, where she was reported by salvage teams to be still burning. Because of this the salvage teams never made it aboard before she sank to a depth of 5-10m, becoming a total loss. More recently she has been heavily salvaged for scrap metal.

Dive Site Info

The Aska now lies pointing NNW on an irregular rocky bottom with a 14 degree list to port. Her bow and stern are comparatively intact but her midships section was totally destroyed by the bomb blasts with superstructure gone and all holds and engine rooms awash.


Wreckage now lies on both sides of the Cara Rocks reef running N/S half a mile northwest of Cara Island. The majority lies to the west of the reef and the engine block breaks surface at mid-tide in calm conditions. The wreckage lies in 4 to 10 metres of water so close to the reef as to be considered part of it.  The wreck is well broken up, and very kelpy. However the scale is huge and she makes a good second dive. There are plenty of fish about especially in early spring. Some of the wreck, including the top of the engines, are visible above the water at most states of the tide. 

When to dive

The Aska can be dived at any state of the tide. Due to how shallow the wreck is she is very affected by the conditions on the surface so large swells and strong winds may be problematic for both mooring and diving.  It is best to dive this wreck early on in the season if possible as the site is very kelpy due to its shallow nature.