The crown jewel of the Bell Island wrecks, the Rose Castle sits slightly deeper than the others, while still providing plenty to see at recreational depths. It is beyond the reach of currents and icebergs, and its pristine condition will astound you. With rigging intact and artifacts left as they were when she went down, the Rose Castle is a time capsule and an underwater museum.
While bottom times are limited due to the depth, the trip is worth the extra effort to see this unbelievable ship.
One of the most remarkable features is the torpedo sitting nearby. Technical divers only, however, as it sits at 165 ft under the waves.
Less than two months after the tragic loss of the SS Saganaga and the SS Lord Strathcona, the SS Rose Castle met her fate at the hands of the German U-boat, U-518.
U-518, commanded by Friedrich Wissman, was under orders to drop off a German agent at New Carlisle, Quebec and attack allied shipping. On her maiden voyage, it was decided to slip into Conception Bay and attack at first opportunity. Early on the morning of November 2, 1942 as U-518 was approaching the Bell Island anchorages she spotted the ‘Anna T’, a coal boat of 3,000 tons anchored off the Scotia Pier. The first torpedo was let loose towards the Anna T, but as luck would have it, it passed underneath the stern of the Flying Dale, also lying at anchor, and struck the Scotia Pier. This change of events became the first and most likely only enemy strike on a North American shore during the Second World War. Two more torpedoes were quickly fired towards the Rose Castle, anchored nearby. She went down in less than ninety seconds, taking twenty-eight men to their watery graves.
Of special note in regard to the ill-fated SS Rose Castle is the fact that on a previous occasion she had escaped a similar fate. U-69, the German submarine that sank the ferry ‘Caribou’ (this vessel ran on the Port Aux Basques to North Sydney service), had fired a torpedo at the Rose Castle on October 20, 1942. Fortunately it had a defective detonator and the Rose Castle was spared – but only briefly.