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Scuba Diving in Malta is considered the best diving in the Mediterranean. The Maltese islands are blessed with warm temperatures, even in winter, clear, unpolluted seas, with visibility underwater in excess of thirty metres. Hundreds of kilometres of coastline, many of which are still unexplored, make the Maltese archipelago a favourite with adventurous divers.

 

HMS NASTURTIUM (FLOWER CLASS SLOOP - ARABIS TYPE)

 

Displacement: 1250 tons
Length: 255.25 (p.p.), 267.75 (o.a.) feet
Beam: 33.5 feet
Draught: 11.33 - 11.75 feet (max. draught)
Propulsion:  Machinery: 1 set 4-cylinder triple expansion. Boilers: 2 cylindrical. 1 screw.
Range: Coal: 130 tons normal, 260 tons max. = about 2000 miles at 15 kts.
Speed: Designed 17 kts
Complement:  79 men
Armament: Typically 2 x 4.7 inch or 4 inch, 2 x 3 pdr. AA with some lesser variants
 

The HMS Nasturtium was Built By Shipbuilder A. McMillan & Son Ltd., (Yard No. 464) Laid done  July 1st 1915 and Launched on the 21st December 1915.

 

HMS Delphinium, same as the HMS Nasturtium was built in December 1915,  the number of Flowers built in WW1 show just how seriously the mine threat was taken, the fear was that the Fleet would be lured onto mine field and be decimated. Converted trawlers were used to combat mines in merchant shipping zones, but these Sloops were purpose built to clear a path for the Fleet in deep waters. The Arabis Class Sloops were built under the Emergency War Programme for the Royal Navy in World War I as part of the larger "Flower Class", which were also referred to as the "Cabbage Class", or "Herbaceous Borders".

 

On the 27th April 1916: The submarine U-73 positioned 22 mines at the entrance of Valletta Harbour, Malta, Minefield no. 17.  On the same day HMS Russell hit a mine and sunk.  At 20.00hrs the minesweeper Nasturtium suffered the same faith and sank at 2.45am on the 28th April 1916. 

 

 

 

 

 

Loss of the HMS Nasturtium - Information from documentation of Court Martial held on 8th May 1916 onboard the HMS Theseus at Malta.

H.M.S. “NASTURTIUM’ left MALTA on April 24th but was ordered to return at once and search for enemy submarine in Vicinity of Malta. Same order was received by Aegusa, Acorn & Safa-el-Bahr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HMS Nasturtium arrived on 27th April – Extract from signals made to and from patrols and others on the subject of mines and submarines, below list refers to loss of the HMS Nasturtium and Aegusa

 

References.  R.A.P = Rear Admiral of Patrols / C.X.0 = Chief Examining Officer 

R.A.P.

Wallflower, Nasturtium, Aegusa, Safa-el-Bahr

1330

Proceed to 3 miles N. 46 E. of Valletta with all despatch and search for submarine. (Passed to Castille for “Wallflower”) (Passed to Rinella for other three)

R.A.P.

Nasturtium

1510

Continue your search for mines and submarines until dark and then proceed on patrol duty according to sailing orders.

R.A.P.

Sheldrake, Wallflower, Nasturtium, Aegusa

1650

You are to remain in the vicinity of where submarine was last seen 3 miles N.E. of Valletta searching until further orders.

R.A.P.

Sheldrake, Acorn, Wallflower, Aegusa. Nasturtium, Cyclamen

1745

You should keep 6 miles off the land during the night and close up on the position N.E. 3 miles from Valletta at day break searching for submarine.

Sheldrake

R.A.P.

1910

“Nasturtium” struck mine. Passed to R.A.P.

Sheldrake

R.A.P.

1930

“Nasturtium” floating both boiler rooms flooded an towing have tug ready at entrance Sliema Harbour. Passed to R.A.P.

Castille

A.S.O.

1932

“Wallflawer”reports “Nasturtium” has struck a mine.

A.S.

Sheldrake

1934

Report position of “Nasturtium”

R.A.P.

ALL Patrols

1946

Submarine reported 18 W. 5 at 1810. steering East

Aegusa

A.S.

2010

It would be wise to send tugs out at once to “Nasturtium”. “Sheldrake” trying to tow her back.

A.S.

Aegusa

2018

Tugs are being sent.

Aegusa

A.S.

2100

She has a heavy list, crew taken off except few hands on forecastle with boat standing by to assist Tugs with hawsers when they arrive. (Passed to R.A.P.)

Sheldrake

R.A.P.

2138

H.M.S. “Nasturtium” badly holed on the starboard side, listing 30 degrees to Port, floating now, motionless, crew removed. (Passed to R.A.P.)

Sheldrake

R.A.P.

2150

Aegusa torpedoed or mined. Send Tugs. (Passed to R.A.P.)

 
 

During these manoeuvres and while following orders HMS Nasturtium struck a mine at 8.00pm on 27th April 1916, 7 feet below the waterline which exploded on the starboard side abreast the foremost funnel.  Both boiler rooms were flooded, tons of coal in the starboard bunkers escaped through the hole, causing the ship to list to port.  On 28th April the Nasturtium sunk at 2.45am (position: North 52 East from St. Elmo light, distance 5 to 6 miles). 

Sheldrake, followed by Wallflower and Aegusa assisted the Nasturtium and took off her officers and men using their own boats. Bad weather conditions, darkness and heavy swell hindered the rescue operations.  Sheldrake started to tow the Nasturtium but it proved very difficult due to the heavy list.  

Signals from Malta were received that the tug Prompt was on the way.  The Aegusa blew up at 10.45pm, Sheldrake and Wallflower attended to the survivors of the Aegusa and then cleared out.  Admiral Walker Commanding Officer of Aegusa with a crew of four stood by the Nasturtium in his 18ft jolly boat waiting for the tug Prompt to arrive and ready to take off the men still on the Nasturtium just in case she sank. 

 

Extract from report of Lieut. – Comdr. R. Lloyd, Commanding Officer of the Nasturtium:

 

 
Court Martial Decision and Findings (extract) :

 
Names of the Seven crew that lost their lives on the HMS Nasturtium:
ADAMS, John R Stoker 1c K 18775 (Dev)
HARVIE, Frederick Stoker 1c K 17009 (Dev)
HIGMAN, William J Stoker Petty Officer 303992 (Dev)
MERCER, Thomas Stoker 1c 304608 (Dev)
POWER, James A  Able Seaman SS 2237 (Dev)
SLUMAN, Samuel Stoker Petty Officer 300564 (Dev)
WELLS, Arthur S, Boy 1c J 39498 (Po)
 

Wreck lies at a depth of 135m

 
Special Thanks to David Agius Re: Court Martial Documentation
 

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