SS Leysian was a 400ft steamship (almost half the length of the Titanic), utilised in the First World War as a transport vessel, shipping pack animals from North America to Alexandria in support of troops on the front line in North Africa. On her final voyage, having discharged a cargo of animals in Belfast, the Leysian came to an untimely end on her return journey to America when she ran into the cliffs at Abercastle on 20th February 1917. There are conflicting accounts associated with the wrecking, the most common being that she mistook Strumble Head for St. David’s Head in fog, but other accounts refer to her being chased onto the rocks by a German U-boat, and there is also a suggestion that there might have been a mutiny on board.
In June 2019, the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) will be collaborating in an underwater recording and surveying field school based around the wreck, which lies about 600m off Abercastle. The NAS are keen to encourage local involvement, and if you have any information about this wreck, particularly photographs from 1917, they would be delighted to hear from you ( MADUdiving@gmail.com ). If you are in Abercastle between 7th & 17th June, do please come along, introduce yourself and find out how they are getting along.
During the course of the field school, Ian Cundy, regional co-ordinator for the Nautical Archaeology Society, will be giving a free talk in Mathry Community Hall to explain what the project is all about, what the field school is hoping to accomplish and the results of their research so far into what is, without a doubt, one of the most memorable events ever to have occurred in Abercastle.
The talk will take place in Mathry Community Hall at 7.30 on Monday 10th June.
UPDATE 17th June 2019
BBC have published an article regarding divers begining a study on the wreck.