Comprised of over 40 islands" and located just east of the U.S.
the British Virgin Islands are a wreck diver's dream location. One
most famous shipwrecks in the Caribbean, the Rhone is just one
of the incredible number of wrecks located in this area. Anegada
a submerged reef system, has claimed hundreds of ships over the past
century. Many of these wrecks, especially the ones located on
hard for sport divers to reach because the treacherous shallow
caused the demise of so many fine vessels, could just as easily
claim a dive
boat. For that reason, many potential dive sites have remained
For more information about British Virgin Islands visit the BVI
Board of Tourism’s official website –
This, 223 foot long, Korean refrigerator ship was one of a fishing
in the area at the time of her sinking. She was built in 1960 in
originally named Seiju Mau #1. According to Jim Scheiner, underwater
photographer and owner of Rainbow Visions Photography, the vessel's
stopped working, but the Korean fishing fleet was still able to make
use of her refrigeration. On August 11, 1981, the fleet received
word that a
storm was coming. The vessel had to be moved from its dock, so the
towed it out and tried to scuttle her. They set the ship on fire,
but she didn't
sink. The Chikuzen drifted overnight and caused some locals to worry
they thought she was going to end up on the beach. A tug boat towed
ship to her present location about seven miles north of Tortola
240 foot vessel finally sank.
The Chikuzen is now resting on her port side in 75 feet of water and
become a popular site for traveling divers. Her intact structure is
heavily developed with marine growth, but huge schools of snappers,
barracuda, parrot fish, grunts, spade fish and groupers are some of
local inhabitants. Lots of big fish can also be seen in the area
amberjack, eagle rays, and an occasional black tip reef shark.
The wreck of the
Fearless, a 70 foot long fishing trawler, lies intact in about 80
feet of water just off Peter Island. She sank in 1986 due to old
age and poor upkeep. According to diver Chip Cooper, a large section
her starboard. aft hull loosened and down she went.
This unidentified fishing trawler burned and sank off of Cooper's
around 1985. She is about 60 feet long and rests on a sand bottom in
feet of water.
The Rhone was built by the Millwall Iron Works of England. She was
feet long, had a 40 foot beam, and weighed 2,738 gross tons. This
Mail Steamer had 253 first class, 30 second class and 30 third class
Powered by both sail and steam, she was fitted with a 5CI hp
steam engine that could push the vessel at top speed of 14 knots.
During her two years of service for the Royal Mail Steam Packet
the Rhone carried mail, passengers, and general cargo. It was on her
voyage that this sleek ship met her doom. At 11:00 AM October 29,
the Rhone was lying at anchor off Peter Island when the ship's
began to fall fast and the sky turned black. As the wind and sea got
Captain Wooley put
her engines at full speed ahead in an effort to steam
to her anchor and ride out the storm. During this hour, a spar fell
her rigging; killing first officer, Mr. Topper. During a lull in the
Captain Wooley decided to weigh anchor to gain open sea, but while
to hoist the vessels 3,000 pound anchor, a shackle got caught in the
pipe and broke. Her anchor plus about 300 feet of chain were lost.
the Rhone steamed out towards sea at full power, but before she
make a clean getaway, the hurricane swept back and down hard,
stern first onto the rocks of Tortola. The ship soon broke in two
with her 123 out of 145 passengers and crew to their watery grave.
Besides losing the Rhone and most of her crew, the Royal Mail Steam
Packet Company also lost the vessels, Derwent and Wye. Two other
the Solent and Tyne, were heavily damaged. No other shipping company
date has ever sustained such a loss of ships in the course of a
Of the 60 vessels at anchor around St. Thomas and the neighboring
only two survived the severity of this storm.
Today, the Rhone is a Marine Park designated "R.M.S. Rhone National
park". Taking of artifacts, coral or shells is prohibited. Her bow
rests in 90
feet of water and points north. The bow section is mostly intact,
its starboard side. Her foremast and crows' nest are intact, and one
cannons lies under some wreckage in 70 feet. The wrecks stern lies
perpendicular to her bow and slopes up to shallower water, while the
of the aft section ranges from 20 to 80 feet. Any diver who has ever
this wreck will surely rave about this experience. Divers can still
portholes, winches, her boilers, a large set of open end wrenches,
propeller and bow sprit.
The Rocus was a Greek
cargo vessel that ran aground and sank near Anegada.
he Rocus was transporting a very interesting cargo of cow bones. The
Rocus was en route to deliver these bones to a fertilizer factory
when she met her demise.
Today the wreck is very broken up in 15 to 35 feet of water. Her
and thousands of bones are scattered over a large area. Some divers
to this site as the Graveyard Wreck or Bone Wreck and have reported
eerie feeling while exploring the wreckage on night dives.
information and images for the Caribbean section of this site was
taken with permission from the book Tropical Shipwrecks by Daniel
and Denise Berg.
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