Tuesday Night Dive on the SS Rio Colarado

6th July 2010

With the good weather holding and a calm sea, things were looking very promising for a good dive off the Tyne.

The usual crowd of suspects turned out at St Peters Quay and Milldam to board the MV Spellbinder.

With no traffic planned to enter or leave the Tyne, Alan received the necessary permission to dive the wreck of the SS Rio Colorado. Originally built and launched at William Doxford & sons Ltd on the Wear as the SS Sheila in 1903, this vessel was subsequently purchased by the London-American Maritime Trading Company and renamed the SS Rio Colorado . On the 22 nd March 1917 she was on the verge of completing her passage from Montevideo across the Atlantic with a cargo of wheat when she struck a mine in the entrance to the Tyne . Despite being so close to land the ship foundered quickly with the loss of 9 lives including that of her Captain and her chief officer.

The position of the wreck so closed to the entrance to the Tyne and the fear of her blocking the entrance to the harbour resulted in the main area of the wreckage being subject to extensive and desperate salvage efforts with the express aim of flattening the remaining wreckage to the seabed to remove any potential obstructions to the entrance to the river.
These efforts ultimately proved very successful with the result that apart from the remains of the engine room, most of the wreckage has been flattened to the seabed. Parts of the engine room including the remains of the collapsed boilers are still very recognisable.
Likewise the propeller shaft whilst still heavily encrusted in white deadmens finger is still recognisable as it leads back to the broken remains of the stern area of the shipwreck.
The dive computer recorded the deepest depth of 20 metres over this site. The combination of slack water, relative shallow depth and excellent underwater visibility, resulted in an excellent dive on this interesting wreck.