The Stranding of the B-98 in the Bay of Lopness

The Bay of Lopness is a shallow bay on the north of Sanday, one of the Orkney Islands. At low tide the remains of a World War 1 German Torpedo ship-Destroyer can be seen.

wreckage with blue sky and sea

In January 1915 a torpedoboat-destroyer was launched in Hamburg.  At 98 metres long with 4 deck-guns, 6 torpedo tubes amd 24 mines onboard the B-98 was a powerful ship for the German Navy at the start of Workd War 1.

1916 came along and she was the lead ship of the second flotilla of torpedoboat-destroyers in the Battle of Jutland. A pivotal battle for control of the North Atlantic.  She was hit but made it back to Germany for repairs.

In 1918 she saw action again. This time in the Battle of Moon Sound she was damaged when she hit a mine.  With temporary repairs she returned to Kiel.

Her fortunes changed at the end of the war.  Rather than being interned in Scapa Flow with the remainder of the German High Fleet she became their mailship.  Carrying supplies and changes of personnel she made regular trips from her home port of Wilhelmshaven.

On her return on 22nd June 1919 she was met by a British boat and taken on a scenic route to Scapa Flow.  The day before the entire fleet had been scuttled. However before the commanding officer could sink her she was seized.

This ship seems to be like a cat with multiple lives. Surviving two battles when many ships and men were lost (she lost 16 men in total), not being interred at Scapa Flow for the end of the war and  being away from Scapa Flow when the fleet was scuttled. She really did keep escaping her demise.  

In February 1920 the Royal Navy were towing the vessels that remained in Scapa Flow to breakers yards.  B-98 was on her final journey to Rosyth when a storm hit. On her final journey she broke loose from her towing destroyer and drifted towards the Bay of Lopness on Sanday. As is her style, even at the end she survived in a way.

She stranded in shallow water just off the shore at the Bay of Lopness.  100 years later she still remains in the bay.  Initial legal and less than legal salvage work stripped her of metal and local kids enjoyed discovering trinkets. In 1989 one of her guns was removed.

 Panorama of Bay of Lopness on Sanday Orkney with shipwreck on shore

The B-98 today

she now sits on the beach, slowly disappearing beneath the ever changing sands.  Winter storms claim her little by little, but at low tide she can be explored.

However this ship and her avoidance of ending remains as a reminder of the past.  She has a beauty as she rises from the grey waters on a stormy day, the receding tide revealing her for another day.

Photography Notes

The Bay of Lopness is a wide bay and so any images to include the B-98 and the surrounding landscape really needs a panorama of combined pictures.

Focussing on the wreck is possible in any weather conditions and states of the tide, other than during high tide. It can be photographed from the picnic area by the parking spaces with a long lens or up close at low tide from the waterline. The tide will clear the wreckage at low water springs but most of the time the wreck will be surrounded by water at all states of the time.

I found that long exposure with overcast conditions provided the best atmosphere and appearance of the wreckage. The water was smoothed and the grey background emphasised the textures of the wreckage and the marine life making it home. The images above were taken from both the beach and the picnic benches with very little difference in perspective.

Visiting the Bay of Lopness and the B-98

Taking the road from Lady village towards Start Point the road passes the golf course on the right before large sand dunes appear.  You will eventually pass a closed kirk called Rusness Kirk on the left and shortly after this on the right there will be small parking area called Bay of Lopness Viewpoint.  Park here and head over the sand dunes to the beach.

The wreck of the B-98 will be visible almost directly below the viewpoint a few hours either side of low tide.  At high tide she will be completely covered and invisible.  


The beach stretches in either direction with lots of jellyfish washed up as well as rock pools and sand dunes to explore.

Parking is free but other than picnic tables and an information board there are no facilities. 

Things to Do Nearby