Fyne Pioneer, Loch Fyne

Site Name: Ostende - Coll & Tiree


This 2718 ton steamship was built at Swan Hunter’s of Newcastle and launched in September 1903 under the name Ehrenfels. Her dimensions were 375.1' x 50.5' x 27.4'.


She appears to have had a relatively uneventful seagoing career until the night of the 16/17th of January 1943. The Ostende was on passage from New York to Liverpool with a cargo of war supplies which included munitions. At 12.51 a.m. she suffered a mystery explosion in the area of her bow and started taking on water. Her captain could not be certain what caused the damage to his ship as he did not see any signs of a mine or torpedo. Within minutes, No. 1 hold was 18 feet deep in water and the captain, doubtful of how long the bulkhead between No.1 and No. 2 hold would stand, decided to try and beach the ship in order to save her.


At the time of the explosion, the Ostende was 9.5 miles west of Skerryvore lighthouse but she swiftly diverted to the more sheltered waters of Loch na Lathaich near the village of Bunessan to await salvage and repair. On the night of the 20th January however fire broke out resulting in a devastating detonation of some of her cargo of ammunition resulting in the destruction of the Ostende and the drifter Lydia Long that was tied alongside her.


Two members of the Ostende’s 48 strong crew died in the ensuring inferno. Indeed many of the buildings surrounding the Loch were apparently damaged by the sheer force of the huge explosions that resulted from the fire igniting some of the munitions cargo. Wreckage from the Ostende was even flung high onto the surrounding hills and can still be found littering the surrounding hills overlooking the bay.


The Ostende was heavily salvaged by the Royal Navy after the war.

Dive Site Info

Over the years this wreck site has been extensively salvaged to the point that today little remains of this once proud vessel beyond unrecognisible pieces of twisted metal. There is however still evidence of some of her war cargo with numerous brass ammunition cases still scattered across the seabed.


The wreck itself lays in only 8-10 metres of water on a mud seabed. It is very easy for divers to kick up mud and silt and lose all visibility so care is needed. 


On this site there are various species of nudibranchs and flatworms, as well as a rich variety of various species of crustaceans including hermit crabs, shore crabs, and numerous long legged spider crabs, some fabulously decorated with weed. There are also some colonies of delicate white seapens as well as numerous scallops. The brackish water is ideal for 15 spined sticklebacks.


Whilst the Ostende perhaps does not provide the most exciting of wreck dives, she does provide an excellent ‘critter dive’.

When to dive

Can be dived at any state of the tide. The loch is very sheltered and provides very easy diving.

Ostende - Coll & Tiree - Fyne Pioneer

© Tiago Moreira

A pair of pugnacious shore crabs (Carcinus maenas) facing off over a hole in the mud/silt bottom at the Ostende wreck site, June 2014.

Ostende - Coll & Tiree - Fyne Pioneer

© Tiago Moreira

A 15 spined stickleback (Spinachia spinachia) on the wreck of the Ostende, June 2014.