Dartmouth Red Light Steamers


There are Four wrecks known locally as the Red Light Steamers because they fall within the red sector navigation light at the entrance to Dartmouth harbour .All four wrecks are World war 1 U boat casualties.   

HMT Benton Castle 38m

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.

HMT Picton Castle 42m

The British Navy trawler HMT Picton Castle was built in 1911 by Smiths Dock Co. Ltd of Middlesbrough for the Castle Steam Trawlers Co. Ltd Swansea. She was requisitioned by the admiralty fitted with a 3 pounder and sent into service as a mine sweeper.  On February 19th, 1917, Picton Castle was sunk by a mine from the German submarine UC-17 (Ralph Wenninger), 3 miles southeast of Dartmouth harbour. 12 crew were lost.

The Greatham

Built in 1890 as the Bussorah for T Appleby & Co West Hartleypool. She was renamed Greatham in 1891 .Greatham was a defensively armed British Merchant ship of 2,338 tons. She was on route from Grimsby to Blaye with a cargo of coal. 3 miles south east of Dartmouth she was torpedoed by UB-31 (Thomas Bieber) and sunk killing 7 crew. 

SS Elsa

SS Elsa, built by Tyne Iron Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Newcastle in 1904 and owned at the time of her loss by A/S Den Norske Afrika og Australie Linje. She was a Norwegian steamer of 3581 tons on route from Newport, Montreal to Christiana with a cargo of coffee, tea, rice, coal & coke. On January 24th 1918 she was sunk by German submarine UB-31 (Thomas Bieber) 5 miles ESE from Dartmouth harbour. There were no casualties.