The Rock Island Bridge was an American Cargo Steamer of 3,545 tons. In foggy conditions it was rammed THREE times by the Irish tanker, IROQUOIS, on 23rd March 1920.
She was 8 nautical miles south-southwest of Lizard Point, when she put out a distress call. The ss KENOSHA answered and took Rock Island Bridge in tow heading for Falmouth Harbour. The collision took place at about 10 o’clock off the Lizard and immediately on receipt of the message at Falmouth, the tug Triton went to her assistance.
As they approached the Helford River, the Rock Island Bridge started listing to one side. They had to stop the tow near Porthallow, Cornwall, and retrieved the remaining hands from ROCK ISLAND BRIDGE.
It is not sure whether the Triton or the Kenosha towed the RIB to the Helford. Reports state the continued task of towing was found impracticable, owing to the water gaining so rapidly in the damaged steamer, and after an anxious discussion as to whether the vessel could be beached the operation was accomplished.
Following her sinking in the Helford estuary the wreck was sold to the “All Seas Marine & Salvage Co.” for £15,000. After failing to pull her upright using tugs, huge concrete blocks were sunk into the nearby cliff face, these were used as anchorages for wires to pull on iron frames which had been attached to the hull, to increase the leverage.
Though this too failed.
The wreck was eventually reduced to scrap using explosives.
22.3.1920 Sank in approx 500538N, 050533W.
4ft of hull exposed, marked by white light.
5.4.1922 White light replaced by Lt Buoy.
15.9.1923 Now charted in 500540N, 050533W.
The wreck was eventually reduced to scrap using explosives in 1927, when the Wreck and buoy were removed by Trinity house.
Located on 19.5.1986 in 50 05 36N, 05 05 32W.
When an anchor was fouled on weighing. Divers investigating found a steel wreck approx 23m long and standing 2m above the sea bed.
M Oates diver & diving tender Ixworth.
19.2.1996 After scrutiny of the sonar trace, believed wreck has broken up.
18.8.2012 In 50 05.656N, 05 05.685W.
Least depth 7.2 in general depth 8.4M.
Length 102M, Width 30M, Height 1.9M.
Lies 080/260 degrees.
Large portion of ship’s side lying flat in shallow scour.
Lying in a maximum of 13m of water the wreck is an easy dive that can be done in most conditions apart from strong easterlies. Although it is well broken it is covered in life of all types from nudibranchs to lobsters, just a little to the north there are a few scallops.