16th January 1974
MV Prosperity is wrecked at Perelle
When the MV Prosperity was wrecked at Perelle on the night of 16th to 17th January 1974, it was one of the most deadly runnings aground in modern Guernsey history. Although the crew abandoned ship, hoping to save themselves by coming ashore, 18 lost their lives in the waters of the bay. They are named on a memorial stone on the Lihou headland at L’Eree.
Some parts of the ship are now on display in the Shipwreck Museum at Fort Grey but others, including one of the engine blocks, remain part-submerged where the vessel floundered.
Built in the Netherlands in 1943, the MV Prosperity was 108m long and weighed 2088 tons. Her top speed was 14.5 knots and, on the night she went down, she had been carrying a cargo of timber. It was almost as though she knew that this was to be her final job. Her captain, Georgios Kastellorizios, was to steer her to a breaker’s yard as soon as she had delivered her cargo, and there she would be scrapped after more than three decades at sea.
Wrecked in stormy weather
Unfortunately for her crew, she never made it that far. Her engine failed in stormy weather late on the 16th and they were powerless to stop the waves from taking her where they pleased. This turned out to be La Conchee Reef. She struck it hard, was holed below the water line, and started taking on water.
Unable to steer her, or move her either forwards or backwards off the reef, the crew had no choice but to abandon ship despite the fact that even this was a risky move. They ventured out into the lifeboat, but the storm was so fierce that it was overwhelmed. All eighteen were killed and sixteen bodies soon washed up on Guernsey’s beaches. The other two were lost at sea.
The location where MV Prosperity was wrecked put her within sight of the Elwood Mead, a bulk carrier that had run around just two weeks earlier while on its maiden voyage. Fortunately for the owners and crew of the Elwood Mead it had been less seriously damaged than the MV Prosperity, and she was refloated and repaired in late February 1974.
What else happened in Guernsey in January?
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