Helen's Reef

Helen's Reef is a series of skerries in the North Atlantic, 2 kilometres (1.1 nautical miles) northeast of the larger islet of Rockall and outcrop of Hasselwood Rock, within the United Kingdom's exclusive economic zone. The skerries are covered at high tide or in rough seas, and are often only visible as breaking waves.

Helen's Reef
Helen's Reef is located in Oceans around British Isles
Helen's Reef
Helen's Reef
Location of Helen's Reef in Europe
LocationNorth-East Atlantic
Coordinates57°36′5″N 13°39′29″W / 57.60139°N 13.65806°W / 57.60139; -13.65806Coordinates: 57°36′5″N 13°39′29″W / 57.60139°N 13.65806°W / 57.60139; -13.65806

It is within the 12-nautical-mile (22 km; 14 mi) radius territorial waters of Rockall, which is claimed by the UK as of 1955 and incorporated into the UK by the Island of Rockall Act 1972. This claim was previously long disputed by Ireland,[1][2] but the dispute is resolved as of 31 March 2014.[3][4]


In 1812 the survey vessel Leonidas foundered on the reef.[citation needed]

It was named for the brigantine Helen of Dundee, bound for Quebec, which foundered at Hasselwood Rock in 1824.[5] The vessel struck between nine and ten o'clock on the morning of 17 April. After some twelve hours struggling to keep her afloat and make for safety, water had almost filled the hold. The captain ordered the passengers onto the deck with warm clothing. Difficulty was experienced launching the boats, and one had to be repaired after being holed on the stock of the kedge anchor;[6] "the crew left most of the passengers to drown, including seven women and six children".[citation needed]

On 28 June 1904 the 3,318 ton DFDS steamer SS Norge, with 795 people including 240 children on board bound for New York, foundered on the reef. 635 lives were lost with most of the 163 survivors being taken to Stornoway.[7][8][9] The wreck was found a century later in 65 metres (213 ft) of water.[10]

ROCKALL - Nautical chart - Atlantic Sea Pilot, 1884


  1. ^ Written Answers - Rockall Island. debates.oireachtas.ie 24 March 2011. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  2. ^ Clive Symmons "Ireland and the Rockall Dispute: An Analysis of Recent Developments" Durham University www.dur.ac.uk
  3. ^ "The Exclusive Economic Zone Order 2013" www.legislation.gov.uk Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  4. ^ "Maritime Jurisdiction (Boundaries of Exclusive Economic Zone) Order 2014" www.irishstatutebook.ie. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  5. ^ Lindsay, E.M. (1955) "An Early Astronomical Record of Rockall Island". Irish Astronomical Journal, Vol. 3, p. 202
  6. ^ The Waterford Mirror from Waterford, May 22, 1824, Page 1, via www.newspapers.com (subscription needed for full access) Accessed 21 March 2020
  7. ^ Keay, J. & Keay, J. (1994) Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland. London. HarperCollins. ISBN 0002550822 p. 817
  8. ^ "SS Norge Shipping Disaster". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  9. ^ "The Sinking of the Norge". Norway Heritage. May 2005. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  10. ^ Follett, Christopher (28 November 2016). "Watch out for the big rock: Remembering Denmark's greatest maritime disaster". Copenhagen Post. Retrieved 25 January 2022.