Aeolian Sky

Type of vessel - Cargo Ship

How sunk – Collision

Former names – None

Wreck height - 14m

She was just a year old, and big with it. Her hull and machinery was valued at over £3 million without any cargo. Despite foul weather, the 148m-long ship made good progress until, on 3 November 1979 the Aeolian Sky, a 10,715 ton Greek freighter, was steaming south west of the Isle of Wight, bound for Aden. At 04:55 a mid-channel collision occurred with the 2,400 ton MV Anna Knupel, which managed to escape virtually unscathed. The Aeolian Sky was not so lucky and radioed for assistance, reporting that she was holed in the forward number one hold and taking water. Shortly afterwards another message was sent saying that the second bulkhead had given way, and that number one and two holds were full of water with the remainder of the ship open to the sea. It soon became apparent that she would have to be abandoned and so the crew were airlifted off. Twenty four miles later, after drifting unmanned in mid channel, it was decided that the Master and two crew should be airlifted aboard again, to see what could be done to rectify the situation. She was successfully taken under tow from a French tug and after four hours, land was sighted. However the Sky was sinking at the bows and because her draught was considered too deep to safely enter Portsmouth or Southampton harbour, she was refused refuge. A decision was made to head towards Portland, but at 4:05am she sank 5 miles from St Aldhelm's Head.

The Sky was carrying quite a mixed cargo: vehicles, perfumes, and sweets to name but a few goodies, and one should not overlook approximately £4,000,000 worth of Seychelles Rupees reportedly stashed in the Sickbay. What a surprise when, a few weeks later, it was announced that divers acting for the Crown Agents, who were responsible for the money, had secretly dived the wreck searching the Sickbay for the money, to find it was missing! The Seychelles Government was not amused and cancelled the complete note issue.

Then, to add insult to injury, canisters of deadly chemicals began to be washed up in the area. BSAC banned diving and taking of fish life between Bembridge Ledges and Portland, local fishermen were prohibited from trawling within one mile of the wreck and hundreds of dead crabs were washed up. Weymouth began to fear that the coming season would prove disastrous and questions were asked in the House of Commons. Things were looking bleak for the resort.

Eventually it was established that the deadly chemicals hadn't after all come from the Sky, but had been washed off the deck of another ship in mid channel. The diving ban was lifted, summer arrived, and suddenly everyone wanted to dive the Sky.

Most of her hull is still intact with the holds still full of cargo. The wreck is mostly intact except for bow, which was blown off during cargo salvage attempts. She lies on her port side on limestone seabed.

The below video was very kindly filmed and edited by James Clark.

Beware of accidentally entering this huge wreck when visibility is poor as it is easy to get lost inside the wreck before you realise you have entered it.

Wreck Tour: 27, The Aeolian Sky