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RMS Rhone wreck - Virgin Islands (British)

RMS Rhone wreck is a boat accessible salt water dive site, located in Salt Island, Virgin Islands (British). This dive site has an average rating of 4.08 out of 5 from 38 scuba divers. The maximum depth is 81-90ft/25-27m. The average visibility is 51-60ft/16-18m.

Wreck of the Royal Mail Ship Rhone, not an HMS! She broke apart during a hurricane. Great night dive as well.

From SportDiver Planet’s 50 Greatest Dives, #19 RMS Rhone

As every dive briefing mentions, the Rhone was featured in the 1977 film The Deep, but even without Jacqueline Bisset and shark attacks, there’s plenty of adventure awaiting divers on the former Royal Mail Steamer that was wrecked off Salt Island in 1867 during a fierce hurricane. Most dive operators offer it as a two-tank excursion, starting on the relatively intact bow and making the second dive on the scattered remnants of the stern. After more than 140 years on the bottom, the Rhone is beautifully decorated; don’t miss a night dive to see orange cup corals opened and feeding. And afterward, don’t miss a stop at the Soggy Dollar on Jost Van Dyke, best known for inventing the Painkiller, a delicious — and potent — cocktail that lives up to its name. — PW

Free download of site map

From SportDiver magazine;
"When we dive a wreck, we’re looking for four things,” says Mike Rowe, Course Director for Sail Caribbean. “One is the general condition of the wreck: We want a stable, safe structure. The Rhone lends itself well to that — it’s been underwater for 150 years and was built from iron, so it’s retained a solid structure.” Second are points of interest. Although most of its artifacts have already been salvaged from the Rhone, which sank in 1867, the ship is still a fertile finding ground with canons, portholes, silver teaspoons and coral-encrusted rum bottles. The third requirement is a lack of hazards. Says Rowe, “With the Rhone, anything that would have fallen or come apart has likely already done so.” The fourth condition applies to divers who wish to penetrate: Is it easy to do so? The Rhone split in two, which grants divers easy, unobstructed access to its holds. The severing also broke the vessel into two dives. “The bow is dark and ominous,” says Rowe of the mostly intact section at 80 feet. “Whereas the shallower stern is a real aquarium.” The stern is also where even snorkelers can linger over what is Rowe’s favorite part of the site: the 18-foot-tall propeller sitting in 20 feet of water. “It’s pretty incredible — you jump in past a prop that’s 1 foot across, and then here’s this massive thing — but that’s what was needed for a 310-foot-long iron ship to reach a cruising speed of 14 knots.” This is what’s perhaps most compelling about the Rhone: The longer the ship remains, the greater our appreciation for its struggles.

If you only have time for one dive trip in the BVI, the RMS Rhone is it. Dive BVI has been leading dives on this spectacular wreck since 1975. Numerous artifacts deposited on October 29, 1867 are still visible today. You’ll also see where the 1977 film classic The Deep was shot and get to swim through the amazingly intact bow section as well as under the stern near the large 15 ft propeller. You really get a feel for the size of the RMS Rhone when you swim down the length of the massive driveshaft towards the engine box and gears. No matter how many times you dive on the Rhone, you can still find something new.

At least two dives are required to experience all the Rhone has to offer. Your first dive is 25 – 30 minutes at 75 feet on the bow section. After your mandatory 3 minute safety stop, you’ll enjoy a nice surface interval and be treated to the story of the Rhone. This is probably the most educational surface interval of your life! Our instructors have put a lot of research into the history of this ship and take great pride in their story-telling abilities! You’ll learn a lot about the Rhone, the BVI, animal life, and many other things from them. Don’t forget to keep a weather eye out for one of our numerous turtles! They’re known to pop up right next to the boat so keep your camera ready!

The second dive begins at 70 feet in the mid section where you’ll see a set of giant marine wrenches (”spanners” for our British guests). A giant green moray and several octopus live in this portion of the wreck. It’s generally considered good luck if you see one of them on your dive. Then it’s off to see the incredible variety of artifacts that still remain on the wreck after 143 + years. This wreck has been featured in most, if not all, of the scuba magazines out there. National Geographic, BBC, and The Travel Channel have all been here to see what it’s all about. Combining the Rhone’s history with our staff’s passion for diving the wreck makes for a fun and exciting day on the water. We offer several opportunities each week to experience the beauty of this shipwreck, both morning and afternoon trips. Interested in learning more about Wreck Diving? Check out our SSI Wreck Diver Specialty course!

Dive Site Map

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TedG - 1/29/2019 6:53 PM
I went scuba diving here on 1/24/2019. Average viz: 71-80ft/22-24m. Water temp: 76-80°F/24-27°C.
OK Dive - it was neat to see, but once is enough.
wjueckstock - 9/10/2016 3:27 PM
Rating Added: 5
Established in1980 | Area: 800 acres (including Dead Chest Island) The Wreck of the Rhone is the first and only Marine National Park in the British Virgin Islands. It is the most celebrated dive site in the BVI, and a major recreational attraction. The park includes examples of fringing reef habitat and sea grass beds. The wreck is that of a Royal Mail Steamer, which sunk during the hurricane of 1867 with 125 people on board. At 310 feet long and 40 feet wide, the wreck of the Royal Mail Steamer lies in two main parts in waters between 30 and 90 feet deep. Much of it is still intact and visible, including decking, parts of the rigging, the steam engine, and propeller. The marine park stretches from Lee Bay on Salt Island westward to include Dead Chest Island. The ship’s anchor broke away outside Great Harbour, Peter Island, and this site forms the second portion of the park. The park is used by several commercial dive operators daily. Other dive sites in the park include Rhone Reef, Blonde Rock, and Painted Walls. Anchoring is strictly prohibited in the area in and around the Rhone. The National Parks Trust has installed mooring buoys for use by all commercial, charter, and private vessels. If moorings are unavailable around the Rhone, vessels are required to use the Salt Island Settlement or Peter Island anchorages
CC - 3/13/2014 4:50 PM
I went scuba diving here on 7/15/2011. Average viz: 91-100ft/28-30m. Water temp: 71-75°F/22-24°C.
allisonfinch - 11/15/2013 11:00 AM
Rating Added: 3
been there
scubabob1 - 5/17/2012 8:08 AM
Rating Added: 4
Tortola is a beautiful island.....great views everywhere you go......terrific for sailboating......diving’s pretty good too!
BgDmbRngr - 4/23/2012 4:49 AM
This was one of my favorite dives while I was down there. Even saw a turtle eating the sponges on the inside of the swim through. Have a video of it I took somewhere.
Garion - 4/23/2012 1:18 AM
Rating Added: 5
I went scuba diving here on 4/17/2012. Average viz: 71-80ft/22-24m. Water temp: 76-80°F/24-27°C.
Good dive. Water was nice and warm. Did the dive in two parts (two-tank), deep bow section first, followed by shallower stern.
BarefootButcher - 10/26/2009 9:08 AM
Great dive...The movie "The Deep" with Nick Nolte and Jacquelyn Bissett was filmed here. Dive is done in two parts, stern section first which is deeper and a huge swim through, bow second with tools still on deck. Be sure to rub the porthole for good luck.