8th July 1923

Channel Island steamer hits the rocks and runs aground

The SS Caesarea was leaving St Helier when she struck Pignonet Rock, off Moilmont Point, and was holed below the water line. The Caesaresa was loaded with mail and 370 passengers at the time, but there was no question of continuing the journey to the mainland, so the captain, turned her around and headed back to port.

Another rock

It clearly wasn’t his day. The Caesarea was taking on water at the stern, where it was filling the engine room and causing her to founder. Before reaching St Helier, the ship hit Oyster Rock and this time was beached for the next 12 days with her rear end completely submerged at high tide. Fortunately for her passengers, they were all rescued, and didn’t have to wait until she was finally refloated and towed to Southampton for repairs.

Caesarea was a steel-hulled vessel with three turbines and a running speed of 20 knots. Upon her putting to sea in 1910 she’d been operated by the London and Southwestern Railway Company. After the 1923 collision, she was sold to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, renamed Manx Maid, and used her to ferry passengers to that island. Aside from a break during the Second World War, when requisitioned for use as an armoured boarding vessel under the name HMS Bruce, she remained on the Isle of Man route until 1950 when she was broken up in the shipyard at Barrow in Furness.


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