Lady Elizabeth Wreck Capricorn Jellum

Maritime Heritage
With ships having to sail around Cape Horn and before the opening of the Panama Canal the Falklands were of major importance as a safe anchorage, a supply and repair depot and a coaling station.

Having to round Cape Horn, the Falklands and especially Stanley became a refuge for the many vessels that were badly damaged by the wild seas. Many of the vessels either sank around our coast or were beached and abandoned.

We do not know the precise number of shipwrecks around the Falkland Islands. The recorded number of ships that were wrecked and ships that now lie as hulks on some beach or cove number approximately 180, but of course there could be many more as the records kept before the 1800 were very poor.

It is difficult to imagine what it was like to round the Horn in either direction and be battered and bruised and either come limping into Stanley or be smashed against some reef or cliff face. In fact on many occasions the ship had disappeared beneath the South Atlantic waters before rescue was able to arrive.

Although Stanley went through a boom time the port became so expensive that shipping masters would try to avoid it.

The opening of the Panama Canal and the demise of the sail towards steam marked the end of the ship repair era and the number of ships visiting fell away.

Today the Falklands has been revitalised and is a key port of call for Antarctic expedition ships, a large number of cruise liners, a bas4 for the Royal Navy and an important fishing area for ships of many nationalities. What the future has in store is anyone's guess, but a future offshore oil industry could provide another key factor in the development of the Maritime History of the islands.


Wreck Survey Group
Lady Elizabeth in Stanley Harbour during a storm
The islands hold a veritable treasure house of maritime history especially in Stanley where some of the hulks from the sailing era still stand. Many of the hulks are now in a critical condition but they have only survived to this day due to the islands isolation and climate.

Besides Stanley there are a number of hulks that had also put back storm damaged from Cape Horn and were also later condemned. Notable among these are the VIGAR OF BRAY at Goose Green, the CRAIGE LEE at Bull Point and the GLENGOWAN at New Island.

  Hauser pipe on the port bow of the Charles Cooper
Wreck Survey Group
The Wreck Survey Group (W.S.G.) was founded in 1991 by David Eynon.

The main task of the Wreck Survey Group is to :-

1. Locate the numerous shipwrecks that have been lost
around the Falklands coastline.

2. Carry out a visual and photographic survey of each shipwreck and site.

3. Establish the historical importance (locally and world wide of each wreck.

4. Record all information for the production of a definitive book entitled 'Shipwrecks Around the Falkland Islands'.

5. Prevent the systematic destruction of our Marine Heritage by Souvenir hunters.

To date we have located 14 shipwrecks and established 4 sites that have a protection order on them. All competent divers military and civilian are welcome to join the W.S.G. and participate in the survey work

1. One of the biggest problems with shipwrecks around the world is that many of them have been stripped clean by profiteers and souvenir hunters and much of their historical wealth and knowledge has been lost.

It is mainly due to my commitment to preserving the shipwrecks and wreck sites and the action of the W.S.G. that this aspect of plundering has not occurred in the Falklands.

2. We have located a number of shipwrecks and have established 4 Protective Areas which need some extensive survey work carried out to fully assess their historical importance not only with respect to the Falklands Maritime History, but to those historians genuinely interested in Marine Archaeology.

3. The shipwrecks that have been located are as follows:
Three on the Billy Rock including the ORAVIA.

Six of these wrecks have been recorded on Hi 8 Video and now that I have purchased a new 15mm Underwater Wide Angle Lens it is hoped to take some still photographs of each wreck site.

We have recovered one or two objects from three of the wreck sites. These artefacts are kept at the Boat House in water until there is available space at the museum to set up a proper shipwreck area dedicated to our work. The position of where these items were recovered from has been noted.

4. Local divers are involved in this work and one or two of the civilian contractors and military personnel from M.P.A. have shown an interest in our work and have dived with us.

5. There is some potential with regards Adventure Diving in the Falklands and we should be able to designate areas that are suitable for this type of Tourism.

6. Finally I have written two articles about the work of W.S.G., one in a prominent U.K. Diver magazine and also an article for the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. I am also due to write two more articles one for a prominent American magazine and another one for Diver magazine. A copy of the article published in the Diver magazine is enclosed for information and also a copy of the chart of Port William showing two of the protected wreck sites.

  The Glengowan wrecked at New Island

The sheer volume of ships moving around Cape Horn led to casualties of every degree, not all of which were able to gain a sanctuary of the islands. Fire and countless storms claimed many ships some we know of and others sank without trace.

There are many wrecks around the Falklands coastline, especially in the Stanley/ Port William area. The local maritime law pertaining to wrecks applies, so nothing can be removed from them. Look, photograph and enjoy the wrecks, which vary from Cape Horners to a P.S.N.C. Passenger /Mail ship, but "do not remove" is the rule that applies.

Since 1970 I have been diving around the islands and through the Wreck Survey Group (W.S.G.) we have located and dived on over twenty wreck sites.

With the new 14m Catamaran we will now be able to travel further afield in comfort and safely dive on some sites that have never been seen by man.

Craigie-Lee near Bull Point