The final voyage of MV Derbyshire

map of the South China seas

Location map of where MV Derbyshire was lost.
Copyright ITF, reproduced with kind permission

The Derbyshire's final voyage started on 11 July 1980, when she left Canada for Japan carrying 157,446 tonnes of iron ore

A few days before arrival in Japan she was overwhelmed by typhoon Orchid. Her last known message, on 9 September 1980, reported a severe tropical storm.

Unusually, no ‘MAYDAY’ distress message was heard.

Declared lost

On 15 September 1980 the search commenced but was called off by 21 September as nothing was found and the ship was declared lost.

The families of those who died were devastated and could not understand how such an enormous ship could have disappeared without trace.

On 20 September 1980 the Bibby Line vessel Cambridgeshire held a ‘floral tribute’ memorial service at sea, in the vicinity of the Derbyshire’s last reported position. Captain Kenneth Gowsell, the master of the Cambridgeshire reported that:

“...the ship’s company mustered on the poop, at daybreak on 20 September, where a table had been erected with a Red Ensign covering it, on which eight floral tributes were placed. The ship’s ensign was at half mast on the jack staff. With the engine stopped and the ship silent a short service took place”