Saturday, April 26, 2008

RMS Rhone

One of the best known dive sites on the BVI. The Rhone is a must see wreck. It is really exciting as you can swim through bits of the ship without it being confined etc.

You can tell how big the ship really is just be looking at the size of the propeller against one of the divers.

History of RMS Rhone.

Built in England by Millwall Iron Works in 1865, she was part of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company which provided services between England, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Iron-hulled, 310 feet long, powered by both sail and steam, she was a fine vessel–but her promising career was cut short. On October 19,1867 she was one of about 75 vessels damaged or lost in a hurricane so violent that people talked about it for decades afterward. The storm caught her at anchor while transferring cargo to another ship, Conway, near St. Thomas in the (then) Danish Virgin Islands. The two vessels survived the first onslaught of wind and sea, but during a lull–possibly created when the eye of the hurricane passed overhead–they raised anchor and made a mad dash for the open sea. Conway got underway immediately, escaping the brunt of the hurricane’s renewed force, yet she still suffered moderate damage, losing her funnel and some rigging. Rhone was not so fortunate. Struck by strong winds and heavy seas just before gaining the open sea, she was driven onto a reef near Salt Island, and holed. Seawater flooded the engine room, the boilers burst, and she went to the bottom in pieces. Only 23 of the original 147 passengers and crew survived.

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