Order print   subscribe new

The Deep Wrecks of Malta | SS Luciston and HMS Trusty Star

luciston trusty star title

Many ships had a part to play in the Mediterranean conflicts of the First and Second World Wars, and many of them were lost with little more recognition than a note in a diary somewhere. Some of the bigger battleships have detailed histories kept by military and maritime historians, but without the services of ordinary workaday boats and ships, may never have survived long enough to earn them. In modern times, scuba divers have brought the names of these ill-fated vessels back to life, thanks in part to the work of Heritage Malta's Underwater Cultural Heritage UnitThis week we take a look at two ships whose histories were largely unknown before being brought to the surface by divers - the First World War collier SS Luciston and the Second World War fishing-boat-turned-minesweeper HMS Trusty Star.

SS LUCISTON

ss luciston original bw 1000

The only known photograph of the 1910 SS Luciston (Photo: University of Malta)

Little is known about the SS Luciston - also known as the Luciston Collier - a British steam-powered cargo ship built in 1910 by R. Duncan & Co. Ltd, of Glasgow, Scotland. She had an overall length of 98.4m, beam of 25m and weighed 2948 tonnes.

On 29 November 1916, the Luciston was on her way to Malta from Cardiff carrying a supply of coal when she was struck by a torpedo fired from the German submarine UC-22. The crew survived but the Luciston sank in the open sea some 4 miles from the small fishing village of Marsaxlokk.

ss luciston cannon

The cannon bolted to the SS Luciston's deck (Photo: University of Malta)

ss luciston anchor

The SS Luciston's anchor (Photo: University of Malta)

The wreckage of the SS Luciston was first discovered in the 1990s but it wasn't until 2015 that it was properly surveyed and identified. The wreck likes at a depth of between 96m and 104m and the exposed location and inclement conditions can make it a challenging dive.

The Other SS Luciston

Checking the story behind the SS Luciston threw up a different ship with the same name, built by Joseph L Thompson and Sons of Sunderland, UK (the same shipbuilder as the Thistlegorm) in 1890. Both ships were managed by the same company (W.S. Miller & Co), but the 1890 ship was originally christened the Red Cross, renamed Lucincita in 1913 and then renamed Luciston in 1917 after the 1910 Luciston was sunk off Malta. This second ship was torpedoed in the English Channel on 24 December 1917 and beached on her way to Southampton with the loss of one member of the crew.

ss luciston red cross

Originally registered as the Red Cross, this 1890-built ship was renamed Luciston in 2017 (Photo: University of Malta)

https://www.visitmalta.com/en/info/ss-luciston

HMS TRUSTY STAR

hms trusty star elie ness 1000

A photograph of Trusty Star working as the Elie Ness sometime between 1923 and 1939

HMS Trusty Star was a steam-powered fishing vessel built in 1919 by the Ouse Ship Building Co. Ltd., of Goole, in Yorkshire, UK. With a length of 26.3m and a beam of 5.6m, she was originally named Groundswell, but first registered by a fishing company in 1921 as the Elie Ness and based in Aberdeen, Scotland. In 1923 she moved to Lowestoft in Sussex in the south of England, where she worked as a fishing vessel before being requisitioned as a minesweeper by the Royal Navy in 1939 and renamed the Trusty Star.

According to this blog kept by the son of one of the Trusty Star's sailors, in 1941 the Luftwaffe began to lay magnetic and acoustic mines by parachute in the Grand Harbour of Valetta and at Marsamxett. There were few ships equipped to deal with the mines, however on 9 April 1941 the Trusty Star was fitted with the appropriate equipment for sweeping magnetic mines and, according to the blog, 'had great success during April to keep the harbour open in spite of heavy mine-laying operations by the Luftwaffe.'

hms trusty star bw

The wreck of HMS Trusty Star is mostly intact on the sea bed (Photo: Dave Gration/University of Malta)

hms trusty star deck

The deck and features of HMS Trusty Star (Photo: Dave Gration/University of Malta)

On 30 April 1941, the Trusty Star struck a mine and sank in the Grand Harbour. She was salvaged and returned to minesweeping service in September that year. She was damaged again during a raid on 27 April 1942 and, on the night of 12 May, survived a lucky escape after being missed by three torpedoes fired from German 'E-boats' (fast attack craft) escorting the minelaying submarines.

On 10 June 1942, Trusty Star was clearing mines outside Valetta when she met her end, as described on the pages of Malta: War Diary - 'During minesweeping operations of the entrance channel to Grand Harbour today, Trusty Star struck a mine 3 miles 054 degrees from Fort St. Elmo and sank. One Maltese seaman was injured, the remainder of the crew being picked up unhurt.'

The wreck of HMS Trusty Star was discovered in September 2016, mostly intact and lying at an angle of 45 degrees at a depth of 90m. 

https://www.visitmalta.com/en/info/trusty-star

 


The wrecks featured in this series have been declared to be Archaeological Zones in the Sea by the Cultural Heritage Act of Maltese law, and it must be remembered that most are also war graves. As such, the wrecks can only be dived through dive centres approved and registered with the Underwater Cultural Heritage Unit of Heritage Malta, and protective measures to prevent unauthorised diving are strictly enforced. For more information, the original UCHU reports and a complete list of approved dive operators, visit the Heritage Malta Historic Wreck pages at www.visitmalta.com.

 

 

Share this article...
mulipack

THREE AMAZING DIVE eBOOKS - FREE

Love diving? You'll love these. Sign up today to immediately download our unique FREE gifts -

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 WRECKS - DIVE's 70-page, beautifully illustrated, colour guide to the world’s best wrecks

SCUBA STORIES - DIVE's collection of real life stories where divers, who have got themselves into perilous situations, describe how they reacted and what actions they took to ensure they lived to tell the tale

PACIFICHighlights of the Pacific - Dancing mantas in Hawaii • The Best Diving in the World, Galápagos, Cocos, Malpelo & Socorro • Mass Spawning Events in Palau

Sidebar SUBSCRIBE large2

Destinations Spotlight

Need inspiration for your next dive trip? Try one of our featured destinations from DIVE's travel partners.

sidebar philippines sidebar bahamas sidebar mexico sidebar fiji sidebar st helena Sidebar Egypt sidebar banner sabah sidebar banner belize

DIVE Partners

ceningan divers ad 300x100 LH 300 min giphy subex Wakatobi Siladen Aggressor Fisheye Dive Worldwide gozo banner Arenui

Trending

  1. Articles
  2. Comments

Latest Articles

Read DIVE magazine

DIVE magazine is available to read on many devices. Simply click one one of the options below


PCMac final
Apple finalAndroid final

Like what you see?

Join us on social and keep updated daily...