Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Haunted RMS Rhone

Part of RMA Rhone wreck.
The RMS Rhone today lies wrecked beneath the sea near Salt Island, a part of the British Virgin Islands, in the Caribbean.

The English Royal Mail Packet Company had the RMS Rhone, a mail carrier and passenger ship built in 1865. She was 30 feet long and 40 feet wide and was considered the most modern and fastest in this company’s fleet.

But just two years into making trips from England to the Caribbean--tragedy struck. In late October of 1867, the Rhone ran into trouble in the Caribbean. The ship hit a storm *—but it was well past hurricane season so the ship’s captain, Robert Wooley was unconcerned.

* Passengers from another smaller ship, the Conway were transferred at the onset of this storm to the Rhone because she was considered unsinkable. The Conway then was lost in the rear of the storm with all hands onboard.

As the Rhone passed the island of Tortola, the Captain felt they were just heading into an early winter storm.

When the skies became gray and the storm hit, the Captain laid anchor and kept his ship full steam ahead. This was a standard maneuver to offset the storms power and keep his ship in position.

When this storm suddenly cleared and the sky turned blue Captain Wooley realized his mistake. His ship was sitting directly in the eye of a hurricane. This storm turned out to be a powerful Category 5.

It is estimated the Rhone had between 300 and 500 passengers and crew onboard. Many of the passengers became hysterical as the storm battered the ship. Captain Wooley had the passengers lashed or tied to their bunks to prevent injury—this proved to be a tragic decision.

When the anchor cable snapped the Captain attempted to head for the open sea. But as his ship sailed between Dead Chest Cay and Salt Island the hurricane’s eye passed by them and his ship was at the mercy of raging waves and zero visibility.

A giant wave hit the Rhone suddenly and washed the Captain overboard. The ship was then tossed into a series of rocky outcrops off Salt Island known as Black Rock.

As the ship smashed into these rocks, seawater rushed in and filled the hot boiler room, the result was a massive explosion that ripped the Rhone in two.

Last known photo of Rhone.
The stern where most of the passengers were still lashed to their beds sank quickly. This back end sank upright so 4 people were able to climb the masks that were still above water and wait for rescue. The aft drifted a short distance away and sank at a 90-degree angle.

Of the people on board, 23 survived, only one being a passenger.

Today the stern lies 30 feet below the water while the bow is deeper at 80 feet.

In 1967, the area that contains this shipwreck was turned into the Caribbean’s only Marine National Park. The Rhone shipwreck has become the area’s most popular place to scuba dive.

This wreck was featured in the film The Deep, which starred Jaqueline Bisset.

Over the years many divers have come forward to state the area inside the hull of this wreck is haunted.

Several divers have reported having their shoulders tugged. When they turned around no one has been close enough to touch them.

Other divers report hearing strange sounds within the hull. These noises are described as “groans and screams.” Professional divers have stated they have never before heard anything like this underwater.

Photo: Gareth Richards
This haunting was highlighted on the National Geographic Channel series entitled, Is it Real?

Here is a video of the wreck.

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