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Phillti 13th May 2009 14:50

Roybank aground off Crete
Hi All,
Seems a bit strange writing this but anyhow.

For my sins and now living in Durban I have ended up as the Chairman of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers South African Branch. As such I was somehow elected onto the ICS Executive Council which meets 4 times a year at various locations around the world (mainly London).

Anyhow our May meeting 2009 is in Athens and I am scheduled to attend in 2 weeks.

As I am travelling so far I started to mull over what I wanted to do and visit whilst there, outside of the meetings. The list seemed endless and I can only afford a couple of days outside of the ICS schedule, so what to do…………….?

Anyhow having spent a while looking at numerous web sites and the multitude of historic locations, I suddenly remembered the Bank Line 100 year book 1885 – 1985 where my first ship (The MV Roybank {2} ) is detailed in 2 sentences as being wrecked of Southern Crete.

Seemed a bit of a short epitaph for such a major part of my (and I guess others) life. So with no plan whatsoever I am planning to visit Kalimelines in Crete later this month.

I cannot believe that such a large vessel running aground and breaking in 2 only 24 years ago in such a remote location does not have a lot of stories amongst the locals there?

My plan (if you can call it that) is to pitch up at the nearest pub to the wreck site (29th of May if anyone wants to join me?) and start asking a few questions of the locals. Maybe nothing but who cares I am going anyway and intend to have some nostalgic fun.

Please feel free to distribute this message to any/all of your Bank Line contacts you may have and I would really appreciate any stories and/photos of the Roybank so as to maximize the results of the trip.

Of course (alcohol permitting) I will report back to all after the trip.

Best regards

Tim Phillips (Gronk)
Roybank Fleetbank, Tenchbank,Forthbank,Ivybank,Willowbank

K urgess 13th May 2009 17:18

A belated welcome aboard, Tim (Gronk).
Sounds like an admirable idea.
I'm sure the crew will be along shortly with suggestions and warnings about Ouzo etc.
Find your way around and have a good trip.

Alistair Macnab 14th May 2009 04:42

The "Roybank" was my first command, joining her in Hong Kong on 6/6/66, easy to remember! She was a lovely ship and I always said she was like the Weir's "Royal Yacht" in that she was named for the then Chairman, Roy Weir.
We had a magnificent series of voyages on her on the Indian African Line and the Elder Dempster extension to West Africa before getting a cargo of bulk something from Kpeme in Togo to the Continent
Good luck in Crete. You're right it was a sad ending for fine ship.

Phillti 14th May 2009 08:14

Thanks Alistair,

Having viewed the site on google earth I doubt whether there will be much to see. I found one report detailing the wreck final position as 34 55N, 24 49E which is quite a distance off shore. Anyhow have booked an off road motor bike to get there from the airport (roads dont look so good on google) and have booked into a BB about 10 km away being the nearest one I could find. So all looks set for an interesting trip.



pete 14th May 2009 10:18

She ran aground as the "Byron I" registered owner "Denner Services Inc." of Panama. As everybody would tell you a beautiful and well found vessel....................pete

jpeffer 15th May 2009 07:08

Hello Gronk
Its great to hear your sinning has got you to such a distinguished place after all these years.
The Roybank was a beautifully built ship (harland and wolff), I was the most junior engineer on the trip when she was handed over to the new owners. Bank line (bless them) paid me off the moment we reached Rotterdam, my Dad was killed in an rta 3 days previous. April 1979
If you look on the Photo gallery under the heading Life Aboard, the member called Pocket*trout has posted crew lists for that period, which I found brilliant for helping to put all those memories back in order.
We sailled together on this trip and I think a couple of years later.
Have a great holiday and I look forward to hearing what happens.

Phillti 15th May 2009 15:48

Hi Ron,

Yes I seem to remember the new owners "super" boarding in Panama for the return leg to Europe and slurping plenty of ouzo or some other funny greek beverage on route. Thanks for the heads up on the crew lists I too had forgotten a lot of names and great to refresh the memory.


Pocket*trout 15th May 2009 21:35

Quote from the "Bankline Magazine" October 1979
"Delivered by Harland & Wolff on 31st October 1963 was mv 'Roybank' - remaining with us until 1200 hrs on the 15th May when she was sold to the Cynthos Maritime Co Ltd of Limassol and renamed 'CASTOR'

Phillti 8th June 2009 15:52

1 Attachment(s)
Hi All,

Finally back from Greece and Crete. An interesting trip and what a great place Kali Limenes is. Very remote, sparsely populated, idyllic beaches, tremendous scenery, fantastic local taverns, so I guess Roybank ending her days in a place like that as opposed to being turned into razor blades on the beaches of Alang is far more fitting.

Overall though the trip was not quite as successful as I had hoped for. I didn't for instance get the exact location of the wreck positively confirmed, However I did meet some wonderful people and several locals who were all very familiar with the story of the wreck of the Byron 1. They all confirmed the wreck is still there and all of them pointed to a location a few hundred meters off shore close to a small island. See the attached photo, the wreck is reportedly about halfway between the island and the 2 ships at anchor sitting about 10 - 15 meters down, so should be very dive able. When I first arrived I thought the wreck was actually above the water and visible looking at the rocks in the foreground but they were just that Rocks!! I did also manage to talk to the local port police officer (he also works part time as restaurateur!!) who promised to check his archives and send me some more details on the exact location although must admit not very hopeful on this, they are all very relaxed with no sense of any urgency whatsoever!!

All in all then a great place, but my trip was too short, so I will just have go back some time in the future to make a more detailed search. (Good excuse to spend some time in a superb spot!!)

I have also ordered some back copies of Lloyds Casualty reports for January 1985 so lets see what turns up there.

Tim Phillips

Phillti 25th June 2009 15:07

Well finally got the Casulaty reports for Jan 1985. Makes interesting reading but also poses a few more questions. Apparently Byron I had been at Kalilimines since early Jan 1985 probably awaiting bunkers? When she was driven aground they reported only 120 tons of fuel which would not have got her far from there. Also which is more intriging is that she was carrying 10,000 tons of sugar from Poland to India which would not be a normal trade lane for that commodity? Any thoughts. The wreck report adds a bit more detail in that after breaking in 2 the aft part sank fairly quickly and the bow section capsized. All crew were rescued. Any how will keep digging.

Phillti 6th July 2009 16:04

2 Attachment(s)
Just got the attached wreck report which finally confirms the position about 100m off the beach. Attached photo I took shows the location.

manowari 21st July 2009 16:02

Roybank grounding off Pemba -1969
This is the entry from my East African Shipwrecks book re the Roybank which very nearly became one !!!

The Roybank was one of a number of tramp ships built for the Bank Line of London. In the early hours of 27 September 1969 on a voyage from Lourenco Marques to Mombasa, the bridge lookout noticed a shadow on the port bow. On closer investigation it turned out to be land and the helm put hard a starboard. As the bows swung there was a slight vibration as the bottom grazed the reef and a sounding survey showed water in No. 8 double bottom. A diving inspection in Mombasa, revealed a fracture in the hull that was repaired with a cement box. The report attributed the incident to the ship running too close to the island of Pemba in poor visibility. Ten years later she was sold to Cynthos Maritime of Cyprus and renamed Castor and in 1984 bought by Denner Services of Panama and renamed Byron 1. On 17 January 1985 while at anchor at Kalimenes, Crete, she was driven ashore and sank during a storm on a voyage from Gdynia to India.

Alistair Macnab 21st July 2009 16:14

It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the Pemba cement box was still in place!

Phillti 26th July 2009 11:36

Thinking Back we put a cement box in the forepeak on her last voyage with bank line. Bet thats still there as well.

ALBATROS 68 27th July 2009 19:34

Some informations about Roybank's wreck.
1 Attachment(s)
I 'm leaving in Crete Iraklion, and I remember the yars that Roybank was not yet sunk, but run aground near the small rock that philltι marked on his photo.
Most at the north-east side of this rock, there is a large blind rock area.
The ship was run aground at this area for more than 3-4 yars and at list the strong winter storms remooved and sunk it.
The Greek pilot book of Hydrographic agency marks the wreck on this area.
But may the most important information can be taken by topical fishing divers wich like to fish near the wreck.
A link of the owner of the photo (diving in the wreck of Kalilimens) were you may contact for more informations.
For email, click ΕΠΙΚΟΙΝΩΝΙΑ

Phillti 29th July 2009 18:04

Hi Albatross,

That photo is quite spooky. Also confirms the official wreck report that she is very shallow as the diver is just using a snorkel.

I have sent an email to the divers web site to see if he has any more photo's or info.

Many thanks for your input.

leckie 31st August 2009 08:10

HI TIM.It is with a heavy heart i ve learned the fate of M V ROYBANK,from your article perhaps a little behind time as im new to SN .I grew up somewhat on Bankline ships as i was apprenticed at [email protected],who built many.I had the privlaged task of standing by the fitting out of Roybank and then sailing with her on her maiden voyage ,returning to DUNDEE 14 months later.Hard to belive 45 years ago.The master was A J Whiston the chief eng was c l mcbain .So thank you Tim for the memories LECKIE.

leckie 2nd September 2009 05:54


Originally Posted by pete (Post 321635)
She ran aground as the "Byron I" registered owner "Denner Services Inc." of Panama. As everybody would tell you a beautiful and well found vessel....................pete

HI PETE I sailed on ROYBANK out of Belfast new for 14 months.Is it possible to download a copy of your posted photo.regards Wilf Brown [leckie].

John Dickens 11th February 2017 09:50

Sounds great only just picked up this post I was junior engineer on Roybank paid off in Bunbury Australia 197 great ship had some great times John Dickens

jaigee 11th February 2017 11:34

Just posted in the gallery:

Phillti 10th January 2019 15:32

Well Well what do you know, I was just having a look on google earth again at the Roybank wreck location as I do about once a year out of curiosity. Only thing is the latest image is with clear calm waters and you can actually see the Roybank in her resting place in position 34°56'8.78"N 24°48'56.29"E
Amazing. Not sure if we are allowed to post a screen shot from Google Earth?

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