Malta Wreck – X127 Manoel Island

All divers love wrecks. We are looking for information about position, diving conditions and most important, hazards related while diving on them.  But what about the history of the vessel before it sunk? Isn’t diving the wreck more interesting when we know more about it? Let me tell you the story about the X127 which is a very popular and accessible wreck on Maltese Islands. 

WAR AGAINST OTTOMAN EMPIRE

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When the First World War began, both sides playeda game to win the Ottoman Empire (nowadays Turkey) on their side. The situation was quite complicated because Ottomans had very good relations with Great Britain but were enemies with Russia, which was more important. On 29th October 1914 Turkey attacked Russian harbours on Black Sea. In response Great Britain and France declared war on the Ottoman Empire. In November 1915 was a plan created to attack Turkey in Gallipoli.

The plan included the biggest assault from the sea operation till this time in history. Special vessels able to transport troops and supplies to the shore were needed.  Walter Pollock of James Pollock and Sons Company made in extraordinary short time – 4 days – a project of 30m long barge, which was able to operate in shallow waters and 200 were ordered in various shipyards in Great Britain. They were called X-Lighters and received numbers from 1 to 200. Like ours is X-127.

X-LIGHTERS

X-Lighters were 30meters long vessels based on Thames River barges. 

Displacement: 135 tons

Propulsion: Campbell Marine 80BHP two cylinder crude oil engine

X-127

X-127 was converted into water supplier role. The tank and water pump was installed for this purpose.

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GALLIPOLI

The campaign started during February 1915 and ended with a withdrawal in January 1916. Because of overconfidence, underestimation of the opponent and bad planning the whole operation was a disaster. For the price of death 130,000 British, ANZAC, French and Turkish soldiers achievednothing. But X-Lighters including X-127 did their job.

MALTA

After the Great War most of the X-Lighters were sold to private companies. Few, including X-127 found new home in Malta as water transport ships. During Second World War she was recommissioned to Royal Navy and supplied fuel for submarines in Manoel Island. On the 6th of March 1942, submarine base, was heavy bombarded by Luftwaffe, X-127 was hit, and burst into flames and sunk later the same day. 


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