The Royal Mail Steamer Rhone (R.M.S. Rhone) was built in 1865 by Millwall Iron Works for the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company a British shipping company. The R.M.S. Rhone was 310 feet long and had a beam of 40 feet. This massive vessel was equipped with twin mast, single screw, iron hull vessel was the first of her kind. She was the first vessel to be fitted with a modern day propeller, made of bronze. Driven by wind, steam power and a massive three blade propeller she was able to reach speeds of 14 knots. At great speeds she carried mail, cargo, coal, supplies and 253 first class, 30 second class and 30 third class passengers from Southampton, England to the Caribbean. After only a few voyages to the Caribbean, she met her demise on October 30, 1867 in what Captain Woolley was just a winter storm. It turned out to be a strong category 3 hurricane, Captain Woolley as well as everyone else thought that hurricane season had finished for the year.
The R.M.S. Rhone has been laying on the sea floor just off of Black Rock Point, Salt Island for over 150 years. There is so much to see on this beautiful dive site that we do it over two dives. When she met her demise she broke into two pieces, the bow section and the stern section, making it an ideal two tank dive.
The first dive is on the bow section this is where we see the forward mast, life boat davits, the signaling cannon, the exploded boiler, the condenser and the bow sprite. The bow is the deepest part of the wreck that sits in 82ft (24 meters) of water. Because of the depth this dive is limited to 30 minuets. During the surface interval the instructor on board will tell you the history of the R.M.S. Rhone.
The second dive is over the stern section. Here we see the wrench (spaners) set from the engine room, boiler, tile floor from the galley, “lucky porthole”, drive shaft, a spoon encrusted in the dive shaft, the rudder and massive bronze propeller. This dive is a maximum depth 65ft (19 meters) and gets as shallow as 15 feet (5 meters) where the propeller and rudder lye.
Note: Although the R.M.S. Rhone is a beautiful and “must see” dive in the B.V.I., it is also considered an advanced dive. Not only is the a deep dive, there usually is a strong current and rough surface conditions. We do not require that you have your advanced diver certification. However, we do require that you have been diving in the past 3 years. If you haven’t been diving in the past 3 years, we will ask that you come for a two tank dive on our beautiful reefs a day or two before going to the wreck of the R.M.S. Rhone. If you haven’t been diving in 5 or more years he highly recommend doing a refresher with us before!