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Tyne and Wear HER(12958): Tynemouth, Rio Colorado (Sheila) - Details

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N Tyneside

Tynemouth, Rio Colorado (Sheila)



Maritime Craft

Transport Vessel

Cargo Vessel




A steamship of 3565 tons and 340 feet long. Carrying a cargo of grain. She hit a mine on 22nd March 1917 at N55 00 57 W001 22 38. In 1970 the wreck was sold to T. Johnson & Co for salvage. Now worked by members of Delta Diving. Steel, 3,565-ton, 103.65m long, 15.29m beam, 6.85m draught British steamship. Registered in London and owned at the time of loss by the London-American Maritime Trading Company, she was built at the Sheila in 1903 by William Doxford & Sons Ltd at Sunderland. Her single steel propeller was powered by a three-cylinder, triple-expansion engine, employing three boilers. At 05:45 on 22 March 1917, the Rio Colorado had just made the perilous voyage across the Atlantic from Montevideo to Newcastle upon Tyne, under the command of Captain A.G. Cromach when she detonated a mine laid by the German submarine UC50. She had been approaching the examination vessel just off the mouth of the Tyne with her valuable, much needed cargo of wheat, when she struck the mine amidships, blasting a massive hole in the side of her hull. Sea conditions were extremely rough and she foundered in just forty minutes. The wreck of the Rio Colorado lies orientated in a general depth of 15m and an east to west direction on a seabed of dirty hard sand and stone about a mile east of the Tyne north pier lighthouse. Because of her proximity to the shipping channel, the wreck was dispersed with explosives soon after she sank. Although she is totally collapsed and well flattened, the debris is spread over a wide area, covering 105m x 50m of seabed. Lots of twisted steel plates, ribs, pipes and framework are jumbled together, surrounding her three upright boilers and the battered remains of the steam engine. Built: 1903 Builder: W. Doxford and Sons Ltd. Where Built: Sunderland HP: 300 Boilers: 3 Owner: London American Maritime Trading Co. Master: A G Cromach Crew: 28 Crew Lost: 10 Passengers: 1




Peter Collings, 1991, The New Divers Guide to the North-East Coast, page 31; Young, R. (2000) Comprehensive guide to Shipwrecks of the North East Coast (The): Volume One (1740 – 1917), Tempus, Gloucestershire. p. 164; Ian T. Spokes Wreck Database; National Monuments Record (908750); Hydrographic Office wreck index 09-MAR-1993; United Kingdom shipwreck index [pre publication typescript]; 1990 Lloyd's war losses, The First World War: Casualties to shipping through enemy causes 1914-1918 Page(s)108; A J Tennent 1990 British merchant ships sunk by U boats in the 1914-1918 war Page(s)184; 1988 British vessels lost at sea 1914-18 and 1939-45 Page(s)38; Richard and Bridget Larn 1997 Shipwreck index of the British Isles, volume 3. The east coast of England : Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, County Durham, Northumberland Section 6, County Durham (CF); Dave Shaw and Barry Winfield 1988 Dive north east : a Diver guide Page(s)56

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