A wreath is to be taken down to the wreck of the Iolaire on New Year’s Day 2019 as a ‘humble and respectful tribute’ to the men who lost their lives when the ship sank 100 years ago.
Former Royal Navy diver Chris Murray has secured permission from the Scottish Commemorations Panel and from local organisations including coastguard, police and Stornoway Port Authority to make his dive soon after the close of the memorial service on January 1st.
Chris has dived at the wreck site on numerous occasions and his photographs and filmed record underwater are the only images of the wreck as it now is, 100 years after the tragedy.
Co-diver Gordy Maclean and the Seafari boat Azula, with third crew member Tony Morrison, will accompany Chris on the dive, which will also be filmed and photographed.
Chris told welovestornoway.com today (Tuesday December 11th): “I will be taking down a small wreath with the insignia of the Iolaire pin badge and attaching it to the wreck at around 1pm on January 1st. I intend to fasten it to the prop shaft or some other part of the remaining wreck so that it will remain there as a permanent memorial.
“Our approach to the wreck will be slow and we will enter the water quietly, completing a slow, respectful dive with the wreath. If conditions are good we may then swim to the shore at Holm.”
Chris has already completed many dives at the site and knows the wreck well. He believes only about 2% of the vessel’s structure remains, as it was destructively salvaged by the Royal Navy in the 1920s.
He said: “I have a feeling of peace and calm when I am down there and I feel a lot of respect for the people who lost their lives. I feel humbled.
“I believe that this tribute has got to be paid and, as I have dived the wreck more than anyone else and understand the story, that I am an appropriate person to do it, together with my team. As an individual, I believe that this is how I can show my respect and my strong feelings about the wreck and what it represents.”
The picture shows Chris during a dive (Chris Murray)