Fyne Pioneer, Loch Fyne

Site Name: Labrador - Coll & Tiree


The Labrador was a 2998nt steel steamship built by Harland and Wolff of Belfast, launched by the Dominion Line in 1891. The Labrador had a triple expansion engine of 573 HP, single shaft. Her dimensions were 122.2 x 14.3 x 8.5 metres. She was an ocean going liner taking passengers across the Atlantic ocean on a regular basis. On her final voyage from St John's, Newfoundland, to Liverpool, she had 74 passengers, 92 crew under Captain T.W. Erskine, and a cargo of grain, mail bags, and 17 horses. The voyage initially went according to plan, but as the ship reached the eastern Atlantic the weather worsened, preventing Captain Erskine from navigating by the sun and forcing him navigate as best he could be dead reckoning. Captain Erskine ended up significantly off course, as he thought he was somewhere off the north of Ireland when in fact he was steaming towards Skerryvore some sixy miles away. Despite observing and timing the flashes of both Skerrybore and Dubh Artach lighthouses between 5am and 6am on that morning, Erskine failed to identify the lighthouses, instead believing they were Irish lighthouses closer to his assumed position.


Mackenzie's Rock, near Skerryvore, is nearly 15 miles away from the nearest landfall at Hynish on Tiree and 60 miles into the Atlantic from the Scottish mainland - it is a very isolated place for a shipwreck. At 7am on 3rd March 1899, in thick fog and force 4 winds from the south west, the Labrador ran aground on Mackenzie's Rock, causing a slight shudder to run through her. The ship was badly damaged and as she took on water her cargo of grain swelled up, bursting through the decks and allowing still more water to enter. Slowly the passengers became aware of the incident and began to prepare to abandon ship into the ship's boats. Fortunately the sea was relatively calmNo lives were lost but only a portion of the 153 mail bags were recovered and all other cargo and many personal items were lost, with debris littering the shores of Coll, Tiree and Mull ove the following days. All the passengers and crew were rescued by the Norwegian ship SS Viking, except for one boat load who were already heading for Skerryvore. The passengers were very lucky that the Viking happened to be in their vicinity, as it was only due to being delayed by the weather conditions and an according change of course that she was there. The Viking nearly missed the stricken ship, only turning towards her when a crew member spotted steam coming from the Labrador's whistle. The engines were extinguished by the incoming sea water and so there was insufficient steam to make the whistle sound, but the steam was still visible against the black livery of the Dominion Line. The ship soon disappeared below the waterline, and by 6th March had broken in two and become a total wreck.


The loss of the Labrador was set down purely to the default of Captain Erskine, whose Master's certificate was suspended for 3 months by the wreck inquiry board in penalty for his failure to navigate in a careful and seamanlike manner.

Dive Site Info

The Labrador is a stunning wreck which is covered in brightly colorured soft corals, plumose anemones due and sponges to the strong currents which swirl over her; other sealife to look out for includes pollock and wrasse. She lies at a maximum depth of 28 metres on a rocky bottom with wreckage falling away from Mackenzie's Rock down a deep gully. Her huge boilers and condenser lie in 16 metres quite close to the rock, and the wreckage spread north east from there. The stern steering gear is in the centre of the wreckage, swept there by the strong currents.


She has been heavily salvaged, and items which have been recovered and reported to the Receiver of Wreck include portholes, hinges and flanges. Many divers have waited years to dive the Labrador which is known as one of the classic wrecks of Scotland; if you are lucky enough to have a chance to dive on her this is not one to miss!

When to dive

The Labrador can only be accessed and dived in perfect weather conditions due to her remote location. The rock is totally exposed and subject to strong tidal flows and heavy swell, so the wreck should only be dived at slack.

Labrador - Coll & Tiree - Fyne Pioneer

© Simon Exley

The huge boilers lying at 16m, covered in dead man's fingers, anemones and sponges. Summer 2014.

Labrador - Coll & Tiree - Fyne Pioneer

© Simon Exley

One of the Labrador's huge boilers lying at 16m. Summer 2014.

Labrador - Coll & Tiree - Fyne Pioneer

© Tiago Moreira

Hydroids and sandalled anemones (Actinothoe sphyrodeta) on the Labrador, June 2014.