Burra Sound Block Ships

Gobernador Bories

A Chilean steamer sunk in its present position in 1915. She displaced 2,333 tons when afloat but now lies on the bottom in 18 metres of water with a list to port. The stern and bow post sections are still intact but the midships area is fairly broken. This allows easy access in to the inner areas of the wreck. The wreck still has her large iron propeller and rudder in place.


Name: Dyle
Nationality: Belgium
Date built: 1879
Builder: A. Leslie & Co., Newcastle
Type: Steamship
Purpose: Cargo
Displacement: 1211 tons
Length: 79.2m
Beam: 10.1m
Date sunk: 7th October 1914
Engines: 2 Cyl. Comp Eng.
Registration: Antwerp

For many years the Dyle has been wrongly named as SS Doyle. She was built for Wm. Johnson of Northshields as the SS Widdrington. In 1886 she was sold to Turner, Brightman & Co of Northshields. She was renamed SS Dyle when she was bought by Van Hemelryck & Geurts of Antwerp in 1902.

She was sold to British ship breakers in 1914 and sunk as a blockship in Burra Sound by the Admiralty in the October of that year.

She lies in 12 – 16 metres of water on a rocky bottom surrounded by a kelp forest. Her bow and stern are intact but she is quite broken in the middle. Her propeller remains one of her best features.


Name: Tabarka
Date built: 1909
Builder: Wrf. voorh. Rijkee & Co. Rotterdam
Type: Steamship
Purpose: Cargo
Displacement: 2886 tons
Length: 99.6 metres
Beam: 13.44 metres
Date sunk: 23rd March 1941 in Kirk Sound – raised and re-sunk in Burra Sound in 1944
Engine: 3-cylinder triple-expansion engine, single propeller
Registration: Rouen

Built as the SS Pollux. In 1931 she was renamed SS Tabarka. She was requisitioned in July 1940 and sunk as a blockship in Kirk Sound in 1941. In 1944 she was raised and re-sunk in Burra Sound.

The biggest of the remaining diveable blockships lies upside down in 12 - 14 metres of water. There are several holes blasted in to the side of the wreck to aid sinking which provides excellent access to the interior of the ship. The whole dive can be spent inside the wreck with the triple expansion engine and the boilers all visible.

Burra Sound Drift

This can be done just after low water slack, drifting with the first of the flood tide. If you are lucky you will see the three blockships mentioned above as well as the remains of several others which have either broken up or been dispersed. These include the Inverlane, the Budrie, Urmstone Grange, Rotherfield, and Ronda, all sunk during the First or Second World Wars.