Fyne Pioneer, Loch Fyne

Site Name: HMS Breda - Kintyre Peninsula


HMS Breda was a 546nt steel steam yacht, originally known as SapphireShe was built by J. Brown and Co Ltd in Clydebank for the Duke of Bedford and launched in 1912. Her dimensions were 285’ x 35.2’ x 14’.


The magnificent vessel was manned by a crew of 49 and had every comfort imaginable for her rich owner to enjoy. She was mainly used by the Duchess of Bedford on ornithological trips round the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland.


During the First World War the Sapphire, like many of her counterparts, was requisitioned for war service and fitted with one four inch gun and a twelve pounder. Her role was as an auxiliary patrol vessel based at Gibraltar. She was fortunate to survive the First World War and returned to her owner and to her normal use as a private yacht. 


She was called up again at the beginning of the Second World War and renamed HMS Breda. She initially served as a convoy escort before being transferred to an anti-submarine role and later employed as a tender to submarine flotillas. She was involved in the search for HMS Grampus.


She was involved in a collision with a submarine in Campbeltown Loch, Scotland on 18 February 1944. She was refloated and towed to shore where she was beached just outside Campbeltown Harbour, with a view to later moving her into the harbour to repair and refloat her, but this proved impossible and she was heavily salvaged and abandoned.

Dive Site Info
The wreck of HMS Breda is spread along a 90 metre line. She lies on a gently sloping mud seabed. The remnants of her bow lie in 6 metres with her stern in a maximum depth of 13 metres if you swim under the stern. 
To look at the wreck, it is evident that she was once a very fine steam yacht. The bow section is a collection of tangled and buckled metal rods, and plates which have collapsed outwards, but working aft the hull becomes more intact in the midships section. The aft-most 30 metres of the stern are still present. The first recognisible features are the spindly, bowed davits arching down on either side. Eight portholes are visible on both port and starboard sides, although any brass appears to have long since disappeared. There is some evidence of forceful removal with hammer and chisel around the portholes where the metal is thinned and dented. Some of the wheelhouse structure rises up out of the hull, although this is now just rods and rafters. There is a permanent shot here.
Aft of the wheelhouse, the deck is flat with exposed riveted girders crossing the beam. At her widest, HMS Breda has a beam of 11 metres but she tapers towards the stern. The deck becomes more intact the closer you go towards the stern. A hatch is also visible. There is a half-exposed circular wheel shape lying flat with bolts or rivets around the circumference. This was approximately over the rudder so could have been part of the steering gear. At the extreme stern, there are two metal structures which are not visible on the pre-war photos of the yacht. We assess these are therefore war related and may have been storage for explosives. Swimming down and under the dramatically undercut stern, you can look at the rudder which is half buried in the seabed. Her stern cants slightly down to the port side. 
There are some entanglement hazards on this wreck, notably twisted bits of old rope and several lobster pots. A further hazard is the silt, which lies in a thick layer over the whole wreck and is easily kicked up by careless finning or touching the wreck. Nobody in the expedition team attempted penetration; due to the extremely silty conditions this should not be attempted without careful planning and appropriate training.
Due to her shallow depth which allows a lot of sunlight onto the wreck, for much of the year she is covered in brightly coloured plumose anemones and soft corals. Several types of crab make their home here, including spider crabs, velvet swimming crabs, edible crabs and hermit crabs, and starfish including common starfish and bloody henry starfish.
When to dive

Can be dived at any state of the tide.

HMS Breda - Kintyre Peninsula - Fyne Pioneer

© Unknown, sourced from Grace's Guide under GNU v.1.2

Before being commissioned as HMS Breda in WW2, the Sapphire was a magnificent steam yacht.

HMS Breda - Kintyre Peninsula - Fyne Pioneer

Wessex Archaeology

Photography by Simon Exley, with the images being stitched together by Wessex Archaeology.