Fyne Pioneer, Loch Fyne

Site Name: Thesis - Sound of Mull


The Thesis was built by McIlwaine, Lewis & Co of Belfast and launched in January 1887. She was an iron steamship, dimensions 167.0' x 25.0' x 11.7'. The Thesis was en route from Middlesborough to Belfast with a cargo of pig iron in October 1889. Having sailed north around Scotland, Captain Wallace took a route close to the mainland through the Sound of Mull. Contemporary reports are somewhat vague on the details of her sinking, however it is likely that just before midnight on Tuesday 15th October, she struck the small island of Eilean Rubha an Ridire at the south end of the Sound of Mull. It was quickly clear that she was doomed to sink and become a total loss. Her eleven man crew made it safely to shore, but the Thesis sank four hours later near the Morven shore at Rubha an Ridire.


Dive Site Info

The wreck of the Thesis rests upright on her keel on a sloping shingle seabed, with her bows at 20 metres and her stern at about 32 metres. She has not settled into the hard seabed at all. As a 19th century ship, the Thesis has very low levels of radiation compared to any vessel made post-Hiroshima, and her hull plates were salvaged in the 1970s for this specific quality. This plate removal exposes the framework of the vessel and allows easy access into the forward holds; it is possible for a diver to swim the entire length of the vessel below deck level. Holes in the ships sides allow light to penetrate inside the hull. Half way back, the boiler is clearly visible projecting just over five feet above the main deck. The old fashioned single engine is also visible just behind this. Other things to look our for are steam driven winches, mooring bollards, and the half-buried rudder. Shoals of fish can often be seen on this wreck, as can wrasse and conger eels. The wreck is heavily encrusted with marine life including sea-firs and soft corals. Visibility on this wreck is often excellent.


What sets the Thesis apart from other wrecks in the Sound of Mull is her quaint older style, particularly noticeable in the use of rivets rather than welding, the positioning of the single engine, and in the line of her general appearance which is so much more delicate than 20th century wrecks in the Sound such as the Hispania. No examples of this type of vessel remain, so a dive on the Thesis, a site of cultural and historical interest, is truly a snapshot into a bygone era.

When to dive

The Thesis is subject to currents and at some states of the tide will be undiveable. The wreck is best dived at slack water, although divers should be aware that even when dived at slack it can turn from slack to a strong run in the time it takes to complete a dive.

Thesis - Sound of Mull - Fyne Pioneer

© James Clark

The bow of the Thesis at 14m covered in orange and white dead man's fingers (Alcyonium digitatum) and hydroids. September 2014.

Thesis - Sound of Mull - Fyne Pioneer

© Gavin Anderson

The Thesis is an excellent wreck for divers to penetrate.