Shipwreck in Hong Kong presumed to be famed warship HMS Tamar

Shipwreck in Hong Kong presumed to be famed warship HMS Tamar

Wreckage found during harbour dredging in Wan Chai last year is almost certain to be the remains of HMS Tamar, South China Morning Post reports. Hong Kong's most famous military ship was scuttled by the British Navy in 1941 to prevent her from falling into Japanese hands.

HMS Tamar at Malta, ca 1882
HMS Tamar at Malta, ca 1882

HMS Tamar was a 4,600 tons displacement sail and steam-powered Royal Navy troopship launched in Britain in 1863. She served as a supply ship from 1897 to 1941 and gave her name to the shore station HMS Tamar in Hong Kong (1897 to 1997).

In 1897 Tamar was hulked as a base ship and used as the Hong Kong receiving ship and served as the 'name' ship for R.N. headquarters until it was replaced by the shore station, which was named HMS Tamar, after the ship.

On 12 December 1941, during the Battle of Hong Kong, once it was clear that the advance of the invading Japanese Imperial forces could not be arrested orders came to sink the vessel and HMS Tamar was scuttled at the buoy.

Almost confirmed

It had been assumed that HMS Tamar was salvaged and removed from the harbour after the second world war but the recent discovery of a 40-metre-long metal object found buried in the mud close to the old Wan Chai ferry pier triggered a frenzy of speculation about the probable shipwreck's identity. 

The Civil Engineering and Development Department in Hong Kong said yesterday that the large metal object, about 40 metres long, two to 11 metres wide and two metres high, "may be part of the bottom of the wreck" and "could be the remains of HMS Tamar". But it stopped short of outright confirming the historic find, "as the ship's bell, nameplate or any other unique features have not been found", writes the South China Morning Post.

The discovery was first disclosed on March 27. However, amid historians' speculation over whether the wreckage belonged to HMS Tamar and lawmakers' questions, the administration did not release further information until last night.