The Sante

The Sante was a 128 ft 217 ton steam powered bucket dredger costing £20,000. She was built for the government of Japan by Lobnitz and Sons, Renfrew, Scotland. Her maiden voyage was to be a trip from the west coast of Scotland to the Island of Formosa (now known as Taiwan) which was then part of Japanese territory.

Saturday 22 Dec the Sante left Renfrew for Greenock on builders trials, then after dropping the shipyard engineers off, proceeded on her voyage to Japan with a crew of 16 on board. The Captain and officers were from Scotland, and there was a Chinese steward, while the rest of the crew were Japanese nationals.

They proceeded down along the east coast of Ireland in good weather conditions until Monday the 24th of December when a strong south westerly gale sprang up. The gale increased in ferocity throughout the night and by Tuesday, Christmas Day, the dredger shipping water and developing a list to port. The captain, worried that the ship might sink at any moment turned for the nearest landfall which was Cork Harbour. He decided that for safety sake that he, the chief engineer and the chief officer should stay on board, then ordered that the two ships lifeboats be lowered, and with one loaded with five men and the other with nine, proceeded to tow them at a speed of about 4 knots towards Cork.

Land was sighted by Wednesday the 26th but at this stage, both those in the dredger and in the lifeboats were frozen and exhausted. Captain Jameson at this point decided that it was safe to return to the listing dredger. Those in the larger boat returned on board but the five crew of the smaller boat appear to have refused, and continued to be towed.
At around 6.30 pm the Daunt lightship was approached and there was a pilot boat seen approaching in the distance. At this point the list of the dredger increased, the stern began to settle and without warning she turned over and sank stern-first within seconds. The crew in the towed lifeboat only had moments to cut the towrope with an axe to prevent themselves being dragged down.
Irish Times report of the disaster


The pilot boat Maid of Erin approached, and managed to rescue the lifeboat crew. The survivors were gotten on board with some difficulty as they had been in an open boat for the previous twelve hours and were suffering from exposure. The Maid of Erin continued to search the area, but there were no survivors among the people who stayed on board the Sante.

There appears to have been some confusion about the name of this dredger, with most local press reports naming it as both the SANTO and the SENTE. However official reports later named her as the SANTE.


Those lost on the Sante Survivors

Captain Jameson of Glasgow.

Chief Officer Fairbank of Edinburgh

Chief Engineer Hopper of Pt.Glasgow

Second Officer Bell, Port Glasgow

Eight Japanese Seamen

Second Engineer Tom King of Renfrew

Third Engineer Wm Elder of Renfrew

Carpenter Alexander mac Donald

Japanese Steward (unnamed in reports)

Chinese Assistant Steward (unnamed in reports)



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Page last updated 05th January 2006