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Demetrios

The near hurricane storms of December 1992 caused yet another ship to be wrecked on the infamous ship trap Prawle Point, near Salcombe. The vessel was the cargo ship Demetrios, and she was being towed from Dunkirk to a breakers yard in the Mediterranean, so ironically she was already on her final voyage.

The Demetrios breaking up

In the terrible gales that lashed the Channel that night, her tow parted and the Demetrios drifted helplessly until she smashed into the vicious rocks of Prawle Point on the 18th of December. There was no point in trying to refloat her. She was no risk to shipping and she carried no pollutants, so she was left to the mercy of the sea. Over the next few weeks’ crowds flocked to the cliff tops to watch her hull twisting and breaking up in the heavy waves. In the end a local salvage firm cut up what was left of her, and towed it all away on a barge to Plymouth, where it was sold for scrap.You would think that there was nothing left to dive on, but you would be wrong.

The Bow is stuck fast

Today it is easy to find the Demetrios because there are still two large pieces of her left stuck on the rocks. What you have to do is go in as near as you dare, anchor, and let the boat drift in a bit closer. You should be in about 30 feet of water, but bits of the wreck stick up quite high so be a bit cautious. The wreckage lies in two main areas. To the left (looking at the shore) large pieces of plate are artistically strewn along a sandy gully, making little caves that are full of fish. Along one side of the gully is what looks like rock but is in fact all iron plate twisted and buckled. A hawser drapes itself across the gully, and if you follow it into the shore you will come across more and more pieces of plate and other debris, again all teeming with small fish, mostly wrasse, but also the odd small Pollock. If you like photography this is the place for you.

Cut right in half

If you like scrapping then go right towards Prawle Point. Here you will see an absolute jumble of twisted plate, some almost reaching to the surface, smashed boilers and loads of brass pipes and elbows all mixed together. It is a great place to pick through. Taps, brass insides of gauges, little valves and joint fittings, great big brass elbows, steel hatch covers and condenser pipes all in one great glorious mix.

Location of the Demetrios

Further down the wreck is the star of the show, a great big engine block, and its pistons pointing at the surface. At extreme low tide it sticks up out of the water, but normally it lies balanced on top of a reef so that it forms a sort of iron cave that you can swim right into and count the cog wheels, or whatever they are that are fixed underneath the huge block. Underneath is a great mess of broken ladders, pipe work and more smashed iron plate. It is a great sight but there is a snag, and that’s the surge. It is best to dive this wreck when there are off shore winds and the tide is almost at its peak. Other wise the surge can fling you all over the place and with all that jagged metal it can be a touch worrying. Still it’s a rare treat to have such a good ‘grot’ dive, even if it is at the edge of our normal diving area.

 

4 Responses to Demetrios

  1. Chris says:

    I used to play on this wreck when i was little. I can still remember the sound of the groaning, twisting metal and the sea smashed into it… quite dangerous come to think of it! :P i still have some of the bits i collected from it.

  2. Nick says:

    Thank you for these pictures, and the commentary. I worked on this wreck for 6 weeks in 1993, trying to cut it up with gas cutters. We abandoned the job as getting access to Prawle Point was too difficult for most vessels, let alone barges. I think the truth is the ocean split what was left of the ship up – I am really interested in the end video, as that seems to be of scrap – where was that taken from?

    I seem to remember the ship was originally called the Longlin. It was renamed by the Greek owner, who commissioned its transport to Greece, at a rather strange time of year, given all the storms and weather warnings. Still, I am sure Lloyds of London paid out, in the end.

    I have some great photos of the interior, and some incredible memories of the top of the superstructure by the bridge, and on top of the funnel. It was really high up by comparison to the rocks, and because of the way the ship was resting on the shore you were walking flat up stairs, and having to climb up the corridors in order to get to the top. Amazing..
    I think we are lucky to be alive probably, now I think about it.

    Thank you again. Great memories, nearly 20 years later!

  3. Kev Mullier says:

    We managed to get aboard a week or so, after she broke in two, a sad end for a fine looking ship! Took some nice monochrome prints from inside, looking out using the twisted metal as a frame. Still got a few chipping hammer heads as a memento. Vivid memories of the hike from Prawle car park to see her, two days after she grounded, and still with a big sea running. Wow, 19yrs ago!!

  4. theo karafotias (theokara03@yahoo.com) wrote:
    my father was the owner of the shiowner company of dimitrios if you need any more info send me a mail

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