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The History of Malta’s Wrecks

6th April 2020

X127 Water Lighter

Designed by Walter Pollock in February 1915 and built by Goole Shipbuilding and Repairing Co, Goole, Yorkshire, these motor landing craft were built for the 1915 Dardanelles landings in the Gallipoli campaign during World War I.

The hull construction was based on the Thames river barges with 60% parallel bottom and a spoon shaped bow with a drop down ramp. They weighed 135 tons, were 35 metres in length and had accommodation for 12 men.

The X127 was converted to carry water and fitted with a Tangye water pump engine to pump the water out of the hull to reservoirs on shore.

The X127 was involved with the successful withdrawal of troops and horses after what some would say was one of the bloodiest battles in World War I.

From 1920 many of the 200 Lighters were sold to private companies, shipping agents and the governments of Greece, Egypt, France and Spain, 16 Lighters went to Malta, X127 was one of these.

At first she continued her duties as a water carrier, then she was converted to a fuel oil lighter carrying shale oil for the Tenth Submarine Flotilla, HMS Talbot, Manoel Island Marsaxmet Harbour, Malta.

On Friday 6th March 1942 the submarine base was attacked by dive bombers and during a second attack the submarines P36 and P39 were damaged by near misses and the fuel lighter X127 caught fire listed and shortly afterwards sunk.

Listed by Lloyds as Wreck No. 37379

She remains in the same position today laying upright on a 20 degree slope, the bow at 5m and the stern at 22m.

4th April 2020

HMS Maori

HMS Maori is a Tribal Class Destroyer built by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Limited (Govan, Scotland). The 115m long destroyer was launched on 2nd September 1937, she had a top speed of 36 knots and had a range of 5,700 Nautical miles at 15 knots. Her armament consisted of eight 4.7 inch (4×2) guns, four 2 pounder “pompom” (1×4), eight 0.5 inch machine guns (2×4); four tubes for 21 inch Mk IX torpedoes, thirty depth charges.

HMS Maori acquired her name from the Maori people of New Zealand. She joined HMS Cossack’s division in January 1939 and was the last Tribal to go to war in the Mediterranean.

On 3rd September 1939, several days after the declaration of World War 2, Maori was lying at Alexandria, Egypt with the rest of her division. Immediately she joined her sister Tribals in convoy escort duties and contraband control before returning to the United Kingdom in October. Again, convoy duty was the main mission but Maori carried out a number of North Sea patrols.

On 25th May 1941, The 4th Destroyer Flotilla was escorting convoy WS-8B when they received an order to leave the convoy and take part in the hunt for the German battleship Bismarck.

The HMS Maori was one of the ships to recover the survivors from the German battleship.

Towards the end of 1941, the British Admiralty decided to reinforce the 14th Destroyer Flotilla (14th D.F.) in the eastern Mediterranean so HMS Sikh and HMS Maori were promptly dispatched to that area. While in support of Force ‘K’, the Malta striking force, Maori participated in the action that resulted in the sinking of the Italian cruisers Alberico da Barbiano and Alberto di Guiossano.

On 12th February 1942 at 0200hours, while anchored at Malta, HMS Maori was attacked from the air and a bomb found its way into her engine and gear room. The Tribal blew up and sank, still moored at the emergency destroyer buoy at the entrance to Dockyard Creek. Crews from other ships helped in the rescue work as blazing oil spread across the water. Since off-duty personnel customarily slept ashore in shelters while in Malta, only one man was killed in the attack.

At daybreak, Maori’s forepart still showed above the water and the wreck seriously interfered with shipping movements but it was decided to leave her there for the time being. Her ‘A’ and ‘B’ guns were still in good order so it was suggested that those guns be mounted on the Ricassoli Breakwater for the Army’s use. Bombs still fell on Maori during succeeding air attacks.

By the end of 1942, the Admiralty decided that her wreck should be lifted, moved out of Grand Harbour and set down off Sliema. On 5th July 1945, Maori’s hulk was scuttled finally in deep water far away from the harbour.

However the bow section lies on white sand at a maximum depth of 14m.