The Cita was built in 1976 and was originally called the "John Wulff". She was a small bulk carrier designed to carry a cargo of about 200 containers between the various European ports. In 1983, she was renamed the Lagerfoss and when she was sold to a group of German dentists in 1996 and renamed the Cita.
On her last voyage, she left Southampton on the 25th March 1997 for Belfast carrying 145 containers with Marks & Spencer clothing, bales of tobacco, empty gas cylinders, shopping bags, car engines, batteries and tyres. She was manned by a crew of 9 polish sailors. The skipper went to sleep and left the First Mate in charge. The ship was set on auto-pilot and she sailed west. The First Mate fell asleep and considering that it was crossing one the busiest shipping lanes without collision is a surprise in its own right.
She was equipped with an automatic anti-collission radar, but it was switched off (Editor: According to one interview, the comment was that the "buzzer" from the radar was annoying). She sailed at full speed on to the rocks at Porth Hellick. The impact was so strong that the crew fell out their bunks and she started listing 30°. No distress signal was received, except for a call to aid, the RNLI boat arrived shortly later, taking off her crew (the captain was rescued later with a helicopter). She listed further, now at 70° she was in danger of capsizing.
The containers fell into the water and floated on to the beach, creating a free for all the local residents. Unfortunately, the local receiver of wreck had just retired, and the only local policeman could not control the situation. According to local newspapers, people arrived with the cars from Cornwall and were not stopped when they left with tyres stacked on their roof when leaving the ferry.
In 2005, when we visited the local shop, the shop owner was using up the last of the plastic bags from the Cita. The story continues, the local authority issued a bill of £300,000 to the owners of the Cita for the beach clean-up, which they refused to pay - saying that the stolen goods (as they were not declared to the receiver of wrecks) would need to be returned before the bill is paid. Unfortunately, we were never able to find out how much of that story is true.