16th January 1974

MV Prosperity is wrecked at Perelle

When the MV Prosperity was wrecked at Perelle on the night of 16th to 17th January 1974, it was one of the most deadly runnings aground in modern Guernsey history. Although the crew abandoned ship, hoping to save themselves by coming ashore, 18 lost their lives in the waters of the bay. They are named on a memorial stone on the Lihou headland at L’Eree.

Some parts of the ship are now on display in the Shipwreck Museum at Fort Grey but others, including one of the engine blocks, remain part-submerged where the vessel floundered.

Built in the Netherlands in 1943, the MV Prosperity was 108m long and weighed 2088 tons. Her top speed was 14.5 knots and, on the night she went down, she had been carrying a cargo of timber. It was almost as though she knew that this was to be her final job. Her captain, Georgios Kastellorizios, was to steer her to a breaker’s yard as soon as she had delivered her cargo, and there she would be scrapped after more than three decades at sea.

Wrecked in stormy weather

Unfortunately for her crew, she never made it that far. Her engine failed in stormy weather late on the 16th and they were powerless to stop the waves from taking her where they pleased. This turned out to be La Conchee Reef. She struck it hard, was holed below the water line, and started taking on water.

Unable to steer her, or move her either forwards or backwards off the reef, the crew had no choice but to abandon ship despite the fact that even this was a risky move. They ventured out into the lifeboat, but the storm was so fierce that it was overwhelmed. All eighteen were killed and sixteen bodies soon washed up on Guernsey’s beaches. The other two were lost at sea.

The location where MV Prosperity was wrecked put her within sight of the Elwood Mead, a bulk carrier that had run around just two weeks earlier while on its maiden voyage. Fortunately for the owners and crew of the Elwood Mead it had been less seriously damaged than the MV Prosperity, and she was refloated and repaired in late February 1974.

 

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Other events that occured in January

Alderney elects its first president 1st
Guille and Alles open their library 2nd
Guernsey bans smoking in public places 3rd
Guernsey Press registers its domain 4th
Guernsey Zoo is sold as a going concern 5th
Guernsey opens its wartime files
Guernsey Police moves to its new headquarters 6th
Guernsey Fisher makes its maiden voyage 7th
Work begins on the Val des Terres 8th
A hotel porter goes on trial for murder 9th
Guernsey Police Service appoints its first inspector 10th
Royal theft inquiry heads to Guernsey 11th
Channel Express Airways plane crashes on Guernsey 12th
Sibyl Hathaway, Dame of Sark, is born 13th
Channel Television disappears 14th
Benefactor Osmond de Beauvoir Priaulx dies 15th
MV Prosperity is wrecked at Perelle 16th
Guernsey’s Royal Court sits for the first time 17th
Doctor Who travels to Guernsey 18th
Channel 4 gameshow Treasure Hunt comes to Guernsey 19th
Hanois Lighthouse is cut off by the weather 20th
Guernsey-built prototype plane crashes 21st
Guernsey Steam Tramway stops running 22nd
Radiant Med sinks with loss of life 23rd
Guernsey wins gold at the Commonwealth Games 24th
Sark is awarded Dark-Sky status 25th
Guernsey passengers are battered by storms 26th
Sir Isaac Newton has his say on a mysterious Guernsey invention 27th
Guernsey’s last witch trial takes place 28th
Guernsey poet George Métivier is born 29th
The States of Guernsey proposes a new airport 30th
Guernsey lifeboat performs a chemical tanker rescue 31st