The “Samson” was a floating crane-ship under tow from Liverpool to Valetta in Malta. On 11th December 1987, when the towline snapped in a south easterly gale just off the Welsh coast, the crew of two were rescued by R.A.F. helicopter and the vessel was left to drift.

It eventually became beached on rocks below Ardmore Head in County Waterford, Ireland the next day when a tugboat “Zam Tug 2” arrived from Cork and remained on stand-by for several hours, before giving up the idea of re-floating the crane ship off the rocks. There were initial fears that diesel oil from the badly holed vessel would pollute the neighbouring beaches but a disaster was averted by the prevailing winds.

Meanwhile one Jim Rooney boarded the “Samson” by using a rope in order to claim salvage. He was a member of the Ardmore Rocket Crew who used rockets to carry a line to vessels in distress so a breeches buoy can be used to bring crew ashore one by one. With some knowledge of maritime law, it appears that Jim stayed on board under horrendous conditions for forty days. Food and changes of clothing were lowered to him regularly during the period, but it is highly doubtful if he benefited anything from salvage money after all. He probably thought it was a good idea at the time !

So with virtually no salvage value the ship has been left on the rocks where it is gradually disintegrating. Since this photograph shot in 2009, the jib rusted through in the salty winds has disappeared. But it’s still an interesting sight to walkers on the Ardmore Head cliff walk, kayakers and photographers…

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