The R.M.S. Rhone is an old cargo vessel that wrecked in 1867 at a reef at Salt Island.
|Name Dive Site:||RMS Rhone|
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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, Caribbean and Central and South America. It was an iron hulled, 310 feet long vessel powered by sail and steam engine. It was a fine vessel with a short career.
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. The storm caught her at anchor while transferring cargo to another ship, Conway, near St. Thomas in the former 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. The RMS 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 got water. Seawater flooded the engine room, the boilers burst, and she went to the bottom in many pieces. Only 23 of the original 147 passengers and crew survived.
Today, this wreck dive is one of the best known and most popular dives in the British Virgin Islands. Her iron deck provides for excellent swimmthroughs, her wooden hull has rotted away and marine and coral life has been adapted to their new home.
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