There have been many ships wrecked around the rugged coastline of Papa Stour. Tiptans Skerry in Hamnavoe has claimed Dutch, French, German and Norwegian ships over the centuries.
In February 1940 the SS Highcliffe carrying iron ore from Narvik to Immingham ran aground off Forewick Holm. It is believed there were serious navignational errors. Both ship and cargo were destroyed but there was no loss of life. Today the site of the wreck is visited by scuba divers.
In 1967 the Aberdeen trawler ‘Juniper’ ran aground in Lyra Sound at the bottom of the 200 ft cliffs. The Aith lifeboat arrived in time to save the 12 man crew and the coxwain was awarded the silver medal for this very daring rescue.
Less happy is the story of another Aberdeen trawler, ‘Ben Doran’ which foundered on the terrible ‘Vee Skerries’ in March 1930. It took the lifeboat from Stromness in Orkney, 120 miles away, three days to reach the scene. But despite being able to see the last crew members clinging to the rigging niether they or the local boats were able to effect a rescue due to the atrocious weather conditions.
The ‘Elinor Viking’ is the most recent ship to run into trouble around the coast of Papa Stour. In December 1977 in storm force winds the vessel hit the Vee Skerries tearing a large hole in her side. With the Aith lifeboat unable to get near to effect a rescue, a Bristish Airways Sikorsky helicopter winched all the crew to safety despite storm force winds. The helicopter crew later received a number of awards for bravery. After this incident a lighthouse was erected on the Vee Skerries in 1979.