What remains of the Capricorn lies near the old Beaver Hanger in Stanley Harbour towards the west end of town. She has become hard to spot lately, especially during high tides – which sometimes completely cover her.
One of her earliest voyages took her from Swansea to the west coast of South America with a cargo of prime Welsh coal. She successfully plied this trade until she got into trouble rounding the Horn in February 1882. The crew discovered that her cargo was on fire and, to save themselves and their ship, they scuttled her on Staten Island, Tierra del Fuego.
She was later refloated and sailed to Port Stanley for repairs, but after a ‘survey’ she was condemned as being “unfit to return to sea”. Capricorn was bought by JM Dean and Sons and used as a lighter and storage hulk. This was before JM Dean was acquired by the Falkland Islands Company.
Built in South Wales
Size: 380 tons
Launched: Swansea, 1829
Fate: Caught fire whilst trying to round the Horn
Capricorn survived in this role until the ‘40s, when she was cut down and scuttled, again, to form a jetty head for the army garrison situated opposite during World War II. In 1977, the Cambridge Expedition to the Falkland Islands, working in conjunction with the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London, reported that “Her capstan lies on the shore close by. Protruding ribs are all that remain of the vessel itself.” The capstan was saved for posterity and can be seen at Stanley’s Falkland Islands Museum.
In the 1980s, Capricorn was surveyed by FMHT Trustee, Mensun Bound, who reported that the inboard part of the wreck was full of very fine silt, “which had sealed her lower-hull construction in what was, fundamentally, an anaerobic (i.e. oxygen free) state thus protecting her bottom timbers from decay and parasite attack.”
Mensun also concluded that: “In contrast to her exposed frames and cladding, her concealed assembly (at least to the turn of the bilge) was in an excellent state of preservation.”
A more recent picture of the state of the Capricorn comes from our favourite drone pilot, Mark Spicer, who works for Falkland Security Services Ltd. In 2018, he took these amazing photographs of the wreck.
When viewed in conjunction with the rare film footage taken by Matt Wortman and Mensun Bound in 1994, we can see clearly how the ages and elements have taken their toll on the Capricorn.