THIS MONTHS TOUR IS OF ONE OF BRITAINS NEWEST WRECKS, located tight in against the rocks of Eilean Fada Mor in the Summer Isles, off Scotlands north-west coast.
Its amazing that in days of modern navigation, a ship as large as the Jambo could unwittingly get herself into such a position. But only a few years earlier the Cita had a similar mishap in the Scilly Isles when the officer on watch fell asleep, so perhaps we can anticipate new wrecks every few years for the foreseeable future.
Our tour begins in 20m at the rudder (1), where a buoy is tied to the stern of the upside-down Jambo. Since sinking in June 2003, the wreck is already covered in tunicates, with some small anemones starting to grow on the edges.
Behind the rudder, the four-bladed iron propeller is still in place (2) and, like the rudder, is covered in tunicates, with anemones at the tips of the blades.
Descending the curve of the hull just forward of the propeller, gaps in the marine growth reveal the Plimsoll marks (3). These are named after Samuel Plimsoll, who directed that lines showing how heavily loaded a ship was should be marked on every hull in 1875. If I may digress, the original canvas trainers were nicknamed plimsolls because a band round the sole of the shoe resembled the Plimsoll line of a ship!
Jambos superstructure has been broken and squashed to the point at which the stern deck rests level with the rocks and silt of the seabed at 31m.
A line of fixed iron portholes (4) marks where cabins are located below the deck.
Following the starboard side forward, the quarterdeck ends and the main deck is held above the seabed (5). For those into serious wreck penetration, there is easy access inside, though with the amount of fine silt from the Jambos cargo of zinc sulphide this is something to be approached with extreme caution. I am usually keen on having a look inside wrecks, but I certainly didnt fancy it on this occasion.
A little further forward, it is possible to make a clear and wide swim beneath the deck to the port side (6). There is actually more debris from the sinking on this side, where the Jambo rolled down the rock face. Ladders, hatch covers and bits of winch gear and mast lie scattered up the rocks, hidden from view in the illustration.
Beneath the holds, mounds of zinc sulphide mixed with sand and gravel from the seabed are banked up. In some cases the direct line of sight is blocked, but there is always a way back to the starboard side.
About halfway forwards, a pair of hatch covers lie partially clear of the wreck (7). The next point of interest is where the forecastle rests in the silt. Here the bow is held sufficiently clear of the seabed to look forward at the winch gear on the bow deck (8).
Back on the outside of the hull, the name JAMBO is clearly marked along the side of the bow (9).
The front of the bow is well-rounded, resting against the rocks at 28m (10).
Ascending the starboard side of the bow, a little way back the anchor recess is a neat box cut squarely into the hull (11). Just aft of this, a white circle with an X crossing it indicates the danger of a bow thruster below. Its the sort of thing commercial divers have to avoid for fear of getting minced if working on the hull of a ship.
The bow thruster itself (12) is at the bottom of the hull and a little forward from the warning sign. A grating across the tube through the hull within which the thruster propeller lies is more for protecting the thruster from debris than for saving divers who might stray too close to a working thruster.
As is common on a modern ship, the foremost point of the wreck is a bulge beneath the bow (13), designed to cut the water and improve the speed and efficiency of the hull.
Now heading aft along the port side of the hull, the port side of the bow is stoved in (14) from where the Jambo ran onto the rocks.
A little further back, just as the bow ends and the hull reaches its full width, a rectangular hole has been cut in the keel by the salvage team (15).
Projecting keels run along both sides of the hull, with anodes bolted on every few metres (16). The hull itself is covered in tunicates, with some small sprigs of kelp on the flat bottom, particularly towards the shallower bow end of the wreck.
With the majority of the hull supported above the seabed by the bow and stern, I suspect that it will not be long before the Jambos back is broken.
Just before the port keel ends, a valve projects from the hull (17), left behind by the salvage team to seal the tanks after they had removed most of the 84 tonnes of marine diesel fuel-oil carried.
Opposite this, on the starboard side, the hull is again stoved in (18). After the bow had run into the rocks, the stern swung round until the Jambo was pushed sideways onto them.
Then, with buoyancy lost, the stricken ship rolled to port and down the slope to come to rest in its current upside-down condition.
With only the lightest current to consider even at spring tide, it is easy enough to ascend the buoy-line.
Thanks to Richard Ross and Tim Walsh.

Only the Chief Officer was on the bridge as the 88m steel hull of the Cypriot-registered Jambo sped through the calm waters of the Little Minch in the early hours of 29 June, 2003. Unfortunately, the CO had already been asleep for more than an hour, writes Kendall McDonald.

The 1990 ton motor vessel was about to test the steel of her bottom which, when she was built in Poland in 1990, had been specially strengthened for Arctic work and for loading heavy cargoes while aground.

A single-hold general cargo ship, Jambo was used between Sweden, the ports of the Baltic and North Sea and the UK. Seven crew handled the ship. The Master was Croatian, the rest Polish.

Jambo sailed from Dublin for Odda, Norway on 27 June, carrying 3300 tons of zinc concentrate. The Master and CO split the watches. When the ship was in fog or close to land, the two Able Seamen (ABs) were required to be on the bridge between 10pm and 6am, but they were also expected to make hourly rounds of the ship.

When the CO came on watch at midnight on 29 June he was tired, having been unable to sleep after dinner. At about 3.55am the AB on duty went on his round and to have a cigarette in the mess-room. The CO asked him to bring back a cup of strong coffee.

It never arrived. Sometime around 4am, the CO fell asleep on his feet, propped up by the engine controls. A vital alteration of course at Rubha Reidh that would have taken them clear of the Scottish coast right up to Cape Wrath was never made.

Jambo motored on at 11 knots, aimed directly at the Summer Isles at the entrance to Loch Broom. At 5.15 the ship ripped into the seabed just off the islands. The Master heard three or four loud bangs, was thrown from his bunk and was up at the bridge in 15 seconds. He found his CO already stopping the engine, and noted the arrival back at the bridge of the AB who had gone for a smoke.

The double-bottomed ballast tanks were filling. The bow thruster compartment was full and 2m of water in the bow end of the cargo hold were deepening. Soon the decks were awash and, as more water flooded in, Jambo began to sink by the stern.

The Master and crew were taken off by the Lochinver lifeboat. Its captain reported at 9.55am that Jambo had sunk with her bow out of the water and was lying on her port side. Salvage of her cargo and oil started the next day.

Tunicates on the propeller

the ships name is still clearly painted on the starboard side of the bow

Plimsoll marks and anodes on the stern

winch beneath the bow


GETTING THERE: From Inverness, take the A832 and A835 towards Ullapool, turning left on the A832 where it splits off again to Dundonnell. Accommodation is at Camusnagaul, with the boat moored just off the beach.
TIDES: The Jambo can be dived at any state of the tide.
HOW TO FIND IT: GPS co-ordinates are 058 01.20N 005 27.08W (degrees, minutes and decimals). There should be a buoy tied to the stern.
DIVING & AIR: Creagard Charters, mv Rebecca Ann, skipper Richard Ross, 01854 633380 / 07715 075460, www.creagardcharters.co.uk
LAUNCHING : The best slip is at Ullapool.
ACCOMMODATION: Richards family businesses include B&B at the farm, a hostel across the road and holiday cottages just round the corner.
QUALIFICATIONS: A nice wreck for the average Sport Diver or equivalent.
FURTHER INFORMATION: Admiralty Chart 2501, The Summer Isles. Admiralty Chart 2509, Rubha Reidh to Cailleach Head. Ordnance Survey Map 15, Loch Assynt, Lochinver & Kylesku. Ordnance Survey Map 19, Gairloch, Ullapool, Loch Maree.
PROS: A new wreck that is already well worth diving and should improve with time.
CONS: Its a long way to Dundonnell.