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S/S Ossian's shipwreck identified and 3D-scanned by German divers

Swedish cargo vessel S/S Ossian, unknown author Fo215990

The german diving team Gezeitentaucher have identified a previously unknown shipwreck. By comparing the shipwreck with registered data from 55 steamships they could determine this was truly S/S Ossian. S/S Ossian.

I have been in contact with Holger Buss, he is a marine archeologist and 3D-scan specialist involved in this project.

Info: cargo vessel S/S Ossian

Launched: År 1892 i Storbritannien
Shipyard: Osbourne Graham & Co
Nationality: Swedish
Ship type: Transport/cargo
Faith: Sunken 1941, torpedoed by british bombers close to the dutch/german north coast
Identified: Year 2020 by Gezeitentaucher dive team

Holger Buss and the dive team Gezeitentaucher

Holger Buss is a german marine archeologist and maritime 3d-scan specialist. We came in contact via a Facebook group for 3D-scanners. Holger told me that his team found a shipwreck and that they identified it as the Swedish steamer S/S Ossian, that has for long time been missing, after it was sunken by british torpedoes. In his diving them they are 9 persons that explores the North Sea since year 2007. They call themselves "Tide water divers" (Gezeitentaucher). They chose the name because the tidal water is a big factor when you dive in the North Sea. They documentate ship wrecks in a non-destructive way, without bringing anything up to the surface. This way they allow future generations to enjoy history for many years to come.


This diving team has special qualifications

In the year 2017, Gezeitentaucher completed a special course in underwater archeology at the VDST; Verband Deutscher Sportaucher (The German Sport Diving Association) led by Dr. Florian Huber. Since then they have used a special methodology for documentating, 3D-scanning and modeling of shipwrecks. The diving team usually go for excursions in the radius of 35 kilometers from Nordeich Harbor in Germany. They are experienced divers and use serious equipment such as a 225 hp rib boat with GPS and sonar. 

Dive Team Gezeitentauchers agenda:

  • To identify shipwrecks
  • Surveil shipwreck locations
  • Preserve shipwreck locations
Holger Buss and his team

This is where the divers found the shipwreck of S/S Ossian that sunk May 15, 1941

There has been several coordinates mentioned for the shipwreck of Ossian, but Holger and his team has confirmed that the correct position is 53°48.5’N 007°13’E.

Ossian transported iron ore from Sweden to German-occupied Rotterdam

Ossian was a cargo vessel heading from Oxelösund to German-occupied Rotterdam the 15 of may 1941. The cargo was 2498 tons of iron ore. The ship sailed in a convoy with five other ships. They were escorted by four german patrol boats armed with anti-air guns and machine guns. In german, the name of this type of small patrol boats is "Vorpostenboote" and where mostly small modified shipping boats, which there was plenty to take from.

British bombers sighted!

At 15.00, eight Blenheim IV torpedo bombers were sighted, passing by the convoy at a low altitude, only 300-400 meters away. At the same time, a torpedo trail was sighted, on the starboard side of Ossian. The captain ordered the crew to evade the torpedo by turning starboard, but in the chaos the order was never carried out. Ossian was hit by two torpedoes, both below the water line. One of the torpedoes penetrated the hull just where the Swedish flag was, and then it continued towards the engine room where it exploded and killed a person. At the same time, the vessel was attacked from the air by the bombers machine gun fire. 

The crew man the life boats

S/S Ossian was at this point about to sink and the crew did everything to man the life boats, eight men to the lifeboat on the port side and eight men plus a german escort officer on the starboard side. In less than 10 minutes the ship split into half and sunk. The lifeboats were rescued by the german patrol boats and they found additional two people in the floating debris. The found men were the fataly wounded ship engineer and the ship carpenter. The surving crew were taken to Cuxhaven and Bremerhaven where the wounded were hospitalized. Ship engineer Wedlin succumed due to his injureies in Wilhelshaven.

Excerpt from the book: Swedish Merchant fleets losts in war during the Second World War ( Svenska handelsflottans krigsförluster under andra Världskriget)

A report drawn by hand by one of the patrol boats, describing the torpedoeing

 S/S Ossian was torpedeod, bombed and machine gun fired by eight british airplanes of the type Bristol Blenheim IV. You can see the events noted in this hand drawn report. It was reported by Patrolboat 1305, which is marked with a red flag in the sketch (the boat furthest down)

This is the same type of bomber that sunk S/S Ossian, a Blenheim IV
Drawing of the events Photo: Holger Buss, Vorpostenflotille (Military archive Freiburg)

Measuring the shipwrecks key components

Key components found in the shipwreck were measured and compared with data registered for S/S Ossian. This is a well known method used by marine archeologists.

Low pressure cylinder
Measuring the cylinder diameter

Found wreckparts  compared with data from Ossian

  1. Rudder Quadrant is driven by a chain – missing data from the Ossian
  2. Position and shape of this bollard Identical with the Ossian!
  3. We found a window of a porthole in bronze, with inscription: “1893 °N2457” – the Ossian was built 1892
  4. Propeller size: 1,8 meters for each blade –  missing data from the Ossian
  5. Two winches and a mast on this position   Identical with the Ossian!
CAD-drawing and data: Holger Buss

This model is done with 3d-scanning and it matches ship data

The shipwreck was 3D-scanned with photogrammetry. It is a very precise and efficient method to generate under water three dimensional models. This model shown below matches photos and measurement data from the ship. 

Holger Buss shows a 3D-print of a scanned detail from the wreck

Consult the dive team Gezeitentaucher

If you are interested in consulting Holger and his team, contact Holger directly via email or contact me and I will connect you. If you are interested in 3D-scanning ABOVE the sea, check out my 3D-scanning projects.

Sources to information in the article:

  • Excerpt from the book: Swedish Merchant fleets losts in war during the Second World War ( Svenska handelsflottans krigsförluster under andra Världskriget)
Related reading

Extra images and material

This is the same type of bomber that sunk S/S Ossian, a Blenheim IV
A british Blenheim IV is loaded with bombs
A crew member behind the bomb sight

A video from the cockpit of a Blenheim IV

Shipwreck Ossian by Holger Buss – Underwater 3D-scan of a larger section of the Ossian.

Video from the documentation of the sunken steamship Ossian.