12. The Swiss Navy

Happy New Year to you all.

In an example of the “history begins yesterday” approach English Heritage commenced recording post-1945 wrecks in 2010, when something like 500 modern wrecks were input onto the parent database of Pastscape  over a six-month period in a post funded by MEDIN (Marine Environmental Data and Information Network)

That old joke about the Swiss Navy isn’t quite as far fetched as you might think: in the 20th century there was, and indeed into the 21st there remains, a Swiss mercantile marine not confined to the shores of Lake Geneva!

Today’s wreck is the Nyon, a Swiss ship which foundered off Beachy Head with a cargo of Mercedes cars following a collision with the JALAZAD in 1962. She is a double wreck, in fact, because part of her was left behind when she was hauled off the Byrips off St. Abb’s Head, Scotland, in 1958 and so is in the records of the Canmore database (Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of Scotland) as a wreck. This form of double-indexation, though rare, does occasionally happen and we signpost as appropriate to other records, as in this instance.

This interesting picture story recounts this initial incident.

Similarly landlocked at first sight are the ships which used to belong to Austria-Hungary, but the Austro-Hungarian Empire was formerly much greater than the borders of the eponymous constituent countries today, and had an outlet to the sea at Trieste in modern Italy and at ports on the Croatian coast. We know of at least 60 ships which either belonged to Austria-Hungary at the time of loss or had borne an Austro-Hungarian nationality at an earlier period. One of the latter was the Elmcrest, torpedoed in 1940, having formerly borne the Hungarian name of Auguszta Főhercegnő (Archduchess Augusta).

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