Dimensions: 315' x 43' x 22'
Location: Aberdour Bay, Moray Firth
The Swedish steamship Fram was built in Middlesborough in 1897 for the Danish-Russian Steamship Co. Originally known as the the Russ, she boasted a gross tonnage of 2,297, 314.7 feet in length, a beam of 43 feet and a draught of 20.5 feet. She was powered by tripple-expansion engines (with cylinder diameters of 22, 36 and 60 inches and a stroke of 42 inches) built by G Clark Ltd of Sunderland which developed a powerful 233 nhp. She carried a crew of 19.
In her early years she carried cargoes of wood and pulp around the ports of the baltic sea. Following a takeover of the Danish-Russian Steamship Co. by Det Forende Dampskibsselskab of Kobenhoun in 1920, she was sold and renamed Fram.
In the forty or so years between her launch and the advent of WWII, technology had progressed and she had become a slow, cumbersome vessel in comparison to the modern ships of the times. She had a cruising speed of only nine to ten knots but still was able to fulfil a useful wartime role pushing cargoes from one port to another.
January 1940, saw the Fram heading from Stockholm to Hartlepool in ballast and in a strong south-easterly gale. Battling against mountainous waters, she decided to take refuge in the relatively sheltered waters of the Moray Firth and anchored about two-and-a-half miles offshore in Aberdour Bay just west of the fishing village of Rosehearty. I t was here that the U-boat, U13, found her.
The U13, perhaps herself looking for shelter from the stormy seas came across the anchored Fram in the early hours of February 1st. By 00:43 GMT she had manoeuvred herself into position and had fired a single torpedo. The torpedo hit the Fram amidships and broke her in two. The stern section, now unhindered by the anchors at the bow, began to drift in the south-easterly gale and did so for some 25 minutes until she finally sank. The bow section stayed in place and quickly settled in the water. The crew took to the life rafts (the lifeboats had been shattered in the initial torpedo explosion) where they drifted for some time until being picked up by local fishing boats but not before the winter seas and temperatures took their toll. In all, ten souls were lost as a result of the sinking or hypothermia.
Today, the largest section of the wreck of the Fram, the stern, lies four miles directly offshore from the picturesque village of Pennan on the Aberdeenshire coast. The stern lies in 57 42 45 N and 02 13 22 W in 46 meters of water on a white, sandy seabed. The area is swept by strong tides and diving her requires careful preparation to get the tides right. The upside of the strong tides however is that the general area is swept clean and normally has excellent visibility 15-25 meters, it is also rich in marine life with the wreck of the Fram acting as an artificial reef and as such is festooned in life.
The history, sinking and dive details of the Fram are described in much greater detail in Rod MacDonalds fantastic the book Dive Scotland's Greatest Shipwrecks.