The Steam Ship St Paul set sail on her ill-fated voyage from New Caledonia on the night of 23rd March, 1914 in almost perfect conditions. Captained by George Corree, the steam powered freighter was carrying 2800 tons of Chromium Ore in her holds and bound for Brisbane. At around 11pm on the 27th March, the vessel was signalled by the lighthouse at Cape Moreton asking whether it required a pilot vessel to assist her passage into Brisbane. The Captain accepted and slowed its speed awaiting the arrival of the Llewellyn. Unfortunately, only moments after the Llewellyn set out to assist, the St Paul stuck Smiths Rock. The heavy weight in her hold dragged the ship over the jagged stone buckling the iron belly plates and she quickly started to flood.
By the time the Llewellyn arrived on scene at 12.40am, the St Paul had drifted nearly 1000 metres east of Smiths Rock and sunk into the depths taking 18 crew members with her, including the Captain. Only 11 were rescued from the water.
These days the wreck of the St Paul lies 38-43 metres of water east of Smiths Rock on a gentle sand slope. Although deep enough to escape major damage from storms, close to 100 years have passed and time has taken its toll on the remains of this once fine ship. Most of the superstructure has collapsed and the hull plates have rusted away on the sea floor. Despite this there is still plenty to see with encrusted deck winches, lift anchors and plenty of marine life! Although it is recommended to dive the St Paul early for better weather conditions, the afternoons are known to bring in the schools of snapper, yellowtail kingfish, huge cod, bull rays and estuary cod.
From a divers perspective this is considered a challenging one. Diving to 43 metres at recreational dive limits. With an ‘air no decompression limit’ of just 7-8 minutes it’s impossible to fully explore and appreciate this wreck in just one dive.
Photo credit: Mauricio La Rocca
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