Chris Juredin diving the wreck of the Rhone with Bert Kilbride on his 90th Birthday
The R.M.S. Rhone was 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.
It was a 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.
Contents of this page:
Ships of Discovery
Donald Keith and Randel Davis
See Winter 2002/3 issue of Astrolabe
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