Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Torpedoed ship located decades on

An image of the sea floor shows the partially buried wreck of the WM Barkley
Guinness archivist Eibhlin Roche with a model of the WM Barkley

The whereabouts of a Guinness merchant ship that sunk off the coast of Dublin almost a century ago have been identified.

The ill-fated WM Barkley was pin-pointed during an expedition in which researchers used sonar technology to record images of the wreck.

A mapping survey of the Irish Sea conducted by the Marine Institute and the Geological Survey of Ireland spotted a seabed feature that appeared to be a wreck lying in the vessel's last known position.

The pictures put to rest a 94-year-old mystery as to the precise location of the vessel, which was torpedoed by a German submarine during the First World War.

Guinness archivist Eibhlin Roche said the vessel played an important role in transporting the well-known stout overseas.

"The events of the night of 12 October 1917 are very much part of the history of Guinness," she said. "It is exciting to finally know the exact resting place of the WM Barkley."

The ship was carrying barrels of Guinness from Liverpool to Dublin when it was hit by a torpedo from a German submarine, seven miles east of the Kish Bank. The torpedo broke the vessel in two and it sank, taking four men including its captain down with it.

The new images of the wreck were captured through Infomar - Integrated Mapping for the Sustainable Development of Ireland's Marine Resource.

Natural resources minister Pat Rabbitte said: "I am delighted to note the continued excellence of the valuable work being carried out under the Infomar project.

"These images from the deep reveal a unique view of part of Ireland's marine heritage and I am delighted to announce details of Infomar's annual seminar to be held in Galway on November 16 and 17."

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