16th July 2013
by Richard Booth
With several days of light offshore winds and no rain, things were looking very promising for a great Tyne wreck dive. Furthermore even the sun was shining bright offering the possibility of lots of ambient light on the wreck.
Our optimisism was rewarded as we entered the water and watched our fellow divers descending down the shotline.
It was not long after leaving the surface that the shadowy outline of the wreck started to emerge out of the gloom below.
The shotline had secured into the wreckage close to the remains of the vessels steam compound engine. Here shoals of Bib circled endlessly through the wreckage. In the distance, dancing torch beams marked the progress of other divers heading away into the distance following the propeller shaft.
The SS Rio Colorado was constructed in1903 at the W Doxford and son’s ltd yard in Sunderland. She was eventually bought by the London-American Trading Company but was sunk by a mine laid by UC-50 in the entrance to the Tyne on the 22nd March 1917 with the loss of 10 of her crew.
Her final resting place so close to the entrance of the Tyne clearly posed a major hazard to the numerous ships that used the Tyne, so it is not surprising that she has been swept and salvaged down close to the seabed. Today the boilers have also largely collapsed although various pipes and wreckage stand proud of the seabed providing an interesting area to explore.
It was here that I came across the rather sad sight of a poor old wolf fish snared and trapped by discarded fishing tackle.
Whilst unable to remove the hook I did manage to cut the line allowing the fish to swim free and hopefully avoid a slow lingering death by starvation. With luck, it will have a fighting chance of survival. It made a satisfying end to an interesting Tuesday night dive from Spellbinder.