15 - 30m
The Bretagne 30m
Owned by the Shipping Controller (Capper, Alexander & Co) and built in 1903 by Nylands Vaerksted the Bretagne was sailing under the British flag in the closing weeks of the war, on route from Barry to Rouen with a cargo of coal. On the 10th August 1918 she collided with the French steamer Renee Marthe in thick fog. Bretagne was struck on the port side and as the ships parted, she began to sink. First officer Henri Watterson returned to the ship to recover some valuables and documents as a wave made a door slam, trapping him and taking him down with her.
Today she lies on an even keel in 30m of water with the deck at 23m. The wreck is quite intact but the deck has been wire swept at some point. Suitable for Sports Divers and with lots of access points to have a rummage inside it will keep the more experienced diver interested.
The British Navy trawler HMT Benton Castle was built in 1914 by Smiths Dock Co. Ltd of Middlesbrough for the Castle Steam Trawlers Co. Ltd Swansea. The Benton Castle was requisitioned by the admiralty in 1915 fitted with a 6 pounder and used as a minesweeper near the mouth of the River Dart. She was sunk on 10 November 1916 by a mine from UC-17 (Ralph Wenninger) off Dartmouth. with the loss of 10 crew.
The Benton Castle today sits on her port side in 38m on a silty sea bed. The minimum depth to the wreck is 33m. The whole wreck is covered with plumose anemones and teaming with life.
A British cable layer, 3342 tons built in 1882; 98 x 14m. She was torpedoed and sunk on the 1 September 1917 5nm SE of Berry Head by German submarine UC-65. The Westmeath, as she was previously known, was built under yard No 115 as a cargo and passenger vessel by Sunderland Shipbuilding Co., Sunderland for R.M. Hudson at Sunderland. The Westmeath was launched on 11 November 1882, powered by a compound steam engine, 316nhp with a tonnage of 3,191 grt, 2,095 net,dim. 320 x 42.4 x 28ft.
In 1886 or 1887 she was chartered by La Societe Francaise des Telegraphes Sous-Marin to lay cables in the Antilles. She moved to Cuba in 1887/88 to continue laying cables in the region. In 1890 she was chartered by W.T. Henley's Telegraph Works Co. to lay the 870 nautical miles cable between Halifax and Bermuda.
In 1890/91 she laid cables in the French and Dutch Guiana's and the French West Indies. She was sold in 1893 to either La Societe Industrielle des Telephones or to the associated company La Societe Generale (des Telephones), and renamed Francois Arago. Her first expedition under French flag was to lay a cable from Mon Repos, Queensland, Australia to Tedoudie, New Caledonia (793 nautical miles). In 1895 La Societe Francaise des Sous-Marin and La Societe Generale des Telephones combined to form La Campagnie Francaise des Cables Telegraphiques. The Francois Arago was most probably then owned by the new company following the merger.
Between 1890 and 1914 she laid cables between Tamative, Madagascar, St Denis, Reunion and Mauritius (1,030 nautical miles) and between French Indo-China and Borneo, between Brest and Cape Cod (3,173 nautical miles) and between Cape Cod and New York (324 nautical miles). She was sold again in 1914 and used as a cargo vessel managed by Worms, Le Harve.
On the 31 August 1917 she saild from Le Havre under the command of Captain E. Cazeils, with 31 crew and 4 gunners (at that time she was armed) in convoy bound for Barry Roads, UK. On 1 September 1917, at 10:45 am the first officer on watch sighted the wake of a torpedo and the ship was hit in the stern which completely destroyed her, and she sank within 10 minutes settling in a position around 5 miles SE of Berry Head. All crew on board abandoned ship and were picked up by the British steamer Landport from Liverpool, and were dropped off at Brixham. The Perrone was torpedoed by the German U-Boat UC-65 under command of Max Viebeg.
On 16 March 1991, Bermuda issued two stamps to commemorate the talks between President Bush of the USA an the Prime Minister Major of Great Britain on that date.
A photograph of the ship as Francois Arago is in the book by Haigh, Cable Ships and Submarine Cables. It appears that the stamp design was based on this photograph, and thus technically the ship on the stamp is the Francois Arago.
More wrecks coming soon