Neil Burgess, President of the Newfoundland & Labrador Shipwreck Restoration Society, recently dove with his wife at Scotia Pier on Bell Island, Newfoundland.
Two ships loaded with iron ore were anchored off Lance Cove in the early hours of 2 November 1942, two ships were at the loading piers on Bell Island, and Anna T was anchored just off the Scotia Pier. Rose Castle was hit by the first torpedo at 3:34 am by German U-Boats. In their bunks, most of her crew were asleep.
A second torpedo struck the Scotia Pier shortly afterwards, throwing wharf timbers into the air and shattering windows in nearby buildings. Rose Castle was struck by a third torpedo, which sent her to the bottom and killed 24 of her crew. In spite of choking on oil spilled from the boats, those left alive attempted to remain afloat in the frigid water.
Read The Scuba News Canada’s article: When World War II Came to Bell Island, Newfoundland
During the Second World War, German submarines targeted the anchorage for bulk carriers shipping iron ore in two attacks on 5 September and 2 November 1942. In addition to the assault on Rose Castle, three other ships, SS Saganaga, SS Lord Strathcona and SS P.L.M 27, were torpedoed and sunk with the loss of 70 merchant mariners.
Because the Bell Island iron ore mine was extremely expensive to operate, mining ceased in the 1960s. A monument overlooks the waters of Lance Cove, (Scotia Pier) only a few hundred yards offshore, where the wrecks lay.
“We took the ferry from the mainland to Bell Island with my little Zodiac in tow. We drove to the Dominion pier and launched the Zodiac at the slipway there. We took the Zodiac to Scotia Pier and dived from shore. There are lots of wharf timbers littering the bottom around the pier. Max depth was 50 feet but we did most of the dive at 40 feet or shallower. Visibility was about 50 feet. Water temp was cool at 6°C. Our dive was 40 minutes long. My dive buddy was my wife Ysabelle Hubert. This dive site is the best shallow shore dive spot for plumose anemones near St. John’s.”Neil Burgess
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