Shipwrecks and other disasters

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1414 Great Spanish ship wrecked off La Corbière, casks of wine washed up in St Ouen's Bay
1484 Five Spanish ships wrecked on Les Quennevais sands
1495 Spanish ship with cargo of wine wrecked off La Corbière
1668 Archangel, of Venice, commanded by Giacomo de Guidin, went aground off Jersey
1676 Ten drowned when boat belonging to Jean Le Huquet struck the Reposeur des Pierres
1800 HMS Havick
1803 HMS Determinee struck rock approaching St Helier Harbour and sank
1806 Severn, flagship of Philippe d'Auvergne, wrecked in storm in Grouville Bay
1816 Wreck of La Balance off the Derouilles. 35 French drowned on 13 March
1823 Royal Charlotte, lost in gale near Cap de la Hague
1825 The Fanny
1826 Betsey and Jane
1826 Mail packet Hinchinbrook sinks after striking rocks near Alderney
1826 Mail packet Sir Francis Freeling run down by Swedish vessel near Portland on 6 September with loss of nine crew and seven passengers
1826 General Brock
1830 Quixote
1835 Juno
1842 Camilla, sunk off the Casquets January
1844 Cutter Laurel wrecked in Grouville Bay, 14 died on 30 July
1850 Polka wrecked on Minquiers on 16 September
1850 Superb wrecked on Minquiers on 24 September
1851 Cutter Ant wrecked on Pignonet rocks near Noirmont Point
1856 Amelia
1857 Ceres wrecked on voyage from Honduras to Jersey
1859 Express steamerwrecked off Corbiere
1861 ss Metropolis wrecked near Elizabeth Castle on 12 February
1863 Paris, wrecked outside St Helier on 28 July
1864 Jean Goujon
1870 Harvey and Westaway Monuments, Mailship Ps Normandy run down in dense fog by ss Mary of Grimsby on 17 March
1872 Norwegian barque Isabella Northcote aground off the Ecrehous on 2 November. Crew rescued
1873 Waverley wrecked in Little Russell Passage, Guernsey, in fog on 6 June
1875 Havre wrecked in Little Russell Passage, Guernsey, in fog on 16 February
1879 Reindeer damaged striking the Albert Pier on 14 January
1881 ss Caledonia lost on Oyster Rock off St Helier Harbour on 19 February
1884 Caesarea, sunk after collision with ss Strathesk off Cap de la Hague on way to St Malo on 27 June
1884 Sloop Louis wrecked on 9 January
1884 GDT wrecked at Millbrook on 26 January
1887 Brighton, wrecked in Little Russell Passage, Guernsey, en route from Weymouth in January
1888 Sailing ship Wonder lost seven miles off La Corbière
1890 Lugger Grace de Dieu wrecked on Mangeuse Reef
1892 Ibex, Capt Le Feuvre, struck rocks in Portelet Bay on way to St Helier
1895 Diana, January
1898 Channel Queen lost off Guernsey on 1 February
1899 ss Stella wrecked off Casquets
1900 ss Ibex wrecked off Guernsey on 5 January
1900 ss Rosegull sinks off La Corbière on 5 December
1904 Conqueror left Newfoundland on 8 November with a cargo of cod and was never heard of again
1905 Hilda struck rocks off St Malo with the loss of 128 lives
1915 Guernsey, wrecked on French coast in April
1917 The USS Summer sank in Channel Island waters in 1917 after being torpedoed
1918 The South-Western sank in the English Channel after being torpedoed
1923 Caesarea
1923 Converted steam trawler Unicorn wrecked off Plymouth en route to Jersey. Captain A G Bisson and his chief and second engineers were drowned. The captain's brother, A G Bisson, and the ship's cook survived 1925 Atala
1926 ss Ribbledale wrecked on Jersey's north coast after dragging anchor in a storm
1932 Great Western Railway's St Patrick strikes a rock in fog off La Moye on 5 August
1935 Princess Ena, caught fire and sank on passage from Jersey to St Malo on 3 August
1949 Ketch Hanna, wrecked on rocks off L'Etacq
1950 mv Killurin wrecked on Sillette Reef off Noirmont Point
1951 mv John V laden with potatoes, overturns off Elizabeth Castle breakwater on 3 July
1955 British Rail cargo boats Winchester and Haslemere severely damaged in collision on 2 December
1961 Cargo ship mv Heron sank after hitting the Paternosters
1964 Guernsey Coast cargo ship sinks after collision in fog with Liberian Catcher off Cap de la Hague on 6 August
1979 Al Osman freighter rescued from rocks at l'Etacq on 11 February

Caesarea, 1923
Express, 1859
ss Ibex
The Superb, painted by Ouless

Until the advent of commercial flying in the 1930s, Jersey relied exclusively on the sea for its links with the outside world, and the volume of maritime traffic over the years, coupled with the difficulty of navigating the rock-strewn waters around the Channel Islands, inevitably resulted in a large number of shipwrecks, including disastrous events in which many lives were lost.


An index to reference material contained in the Lord Coutanche Library of La Société Jersiaise includes 44 headings, but this represents just a fraction of the number on record. A website being developed by Jersey historian Doug Ford indicates that almanacs published by Jersey newspapers from 1836 to 1882 show that there were 533 Jersey registered vessels lost at sea during just these 46 years.


  • 23 ships
  • 36 barques
  • 1 schooner
A total of 60


  • 71 brigs
  • 72 schooner brigs
  • 8 brigantines
  • 161 schooners
  • 8 dandys
  • 5 ketches
A total of 325

Single masted

  • 145 cutters


  • 2 steamers
  • 1 unclassified

Major shipwrecks


On 30 March 1899 the London and South-West Region passenger steamer Stella hit the Casquets rocks off Alderney and sank with loss of 105 lives. A further 112 were saved, including 23 crew. The disaster has become known as the Channel Islands' 'Titanic', but it could have been much worse, because the ship had a capacity of over 700 passengers.


The Hilda, which had operated Channel Island routes before the Stella, sailed from Southampton for St Malo late on 17 November 1905 under the command of Captain William Gregory. She had 103 passengers and 28 crew on board. After negotiating Channel Island waters successfully she struck rocks outside St Malo the following night while attempting to enter the harbour in a snowstorm and heavy seas. There were only six survivors.


The Roebuck struck rocks in St Brelade's Bay in thick fog on 19 July 1911. The sea was so calm that there were no casualties, and the vessel was eventually refloated and brought to St Helier Harbour.


The wreck of the Express off Corbiere on 20 September 1859 was captured in a painting by Jersey's foremost artist of the day, Philip Ouless

Fanny Breslauer

The Fanny Breslauer was a brigantine owned by the Jersey cod business Robin, Collas and Company in Canada. She was abandoned in the Atlantic when trying to make it back to Jersey after the death of her master and other crew members in a storm off Halifax. What remained of her crew were rescued by another vessel, which later found the Fanny Breslauer and took her in tow back to Milford Haven. She eventually returned to Jersey and sailed again on the North Atlantic route to Gaspé.

Polka and Superb

While standing in for the Superb on the Jersey to St Malo service on 15 September 1850 the tug Polka became swamped and sank off the Minquiers, with all passengers and crew safely landed and then rescued. Two days later the Superb was back in service under the same captain and when the captain was persuaded to show the passengers the place where the Polka came to grief, the Superb hit rocks, and this time 20 passengers lost their lives and those who survived spent 24 hours on the Minquiers rocks.


The Cuckoo struck rocks outside St Helier Harbour on 15 May 1850 while ferrying new garrison troops from a larger vessel.

Caesarea I

The first of three vessels to bear the name Caesarea sank off Cap de la Hague in 1884 after colliding with the Stratesk. One passenger died.


Click on any image to see a larger version

ss Ribbledale, which sank on 27 December 1926 having dragged anchor in a storm. The ship was launched at Liverpool in 1902 as the British Monarch. Her name was changed to Ribbledale in 1909 when she was acquired by Ribble Shipping. In 1915 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty as a collier. She was bought by Park and Henderson in 1924 and was on her way to Ronez in ballast to collect granite from the quarry when she dragged her anchor on the night of 26-27 December 1926 and was wrecked on rocks close to Bouley Bay. The captain and crew reached the shore in a small boat, with the exception of the fireman, who turned up safe later in the day having slept through 'the whole affair'.
Pictures from the Illustrated London News report of the Stella shipwreck in 1899

Further reading

Shipwrecks of the Channel Islands, John Ovenden and David Sayer

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