All divers love wrecks. We are always looking for more information about the 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 the Maltese Islands.
WAR AGAINST OTTOMAN EMPIRE
When the First World War began, both sides played a 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 the 29th of October 1914, Turkey attacked the Russian harbours in the 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 until 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 it in an extraordinarily 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. As ours is the X-127.
X-Lighters were 30meter long vessels based on Thames River barges.
Displacement: 135 tons
Propulsion: Campbell Marine 80BHP two-cylinder crude oil engine
X-127 was converted into a water supplier role. The tank and water pump were installed for this purpose.
The campaign started in 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 achieved nothing. But X-Lighters, including X-127, did their job.
After the Great War, most of the X-Lighters were sold to private companies. Few, including X-127, found a new home in Malta as a water transport ship. During the Second World War, she was recommissioned to the Royal Navy and supplied fuel for submarines in Manoel Island. On the 6th of March 1942, the submarine base was heavily bombarded by Luftwaffe, and the X-127 was hit, and burst into flames and sunk later the same day. NOW WE DIVE IT!