Latitude 50° 19.788 N
Longitude 004° 18.523 W
Depth 30m
Accuracy 5m - Boilers (ProMare)
Location Description Whitsand Bay
Reference NMR 919777
Craft type Steamship
Date built 1911
Date of loss 23 September 1917
Manner of loss Torpedoed
Outcome Abandoned
Construction Steel
Propulsion Steam screw
Nationality United Kingdom
Departure port Cardiff
Destination port Plymouth
Hull length 314 ft
Hull beam 45.7 ft
Hull draft 20.9 ft
Hull displacement 2788 tons
Armament 12 pdr (Japanese)
Cargo Coal, 3980 tons
Crew 24
Built Sunderland
Master Captain Phillip Jones
Owners Admiralty

SS Rosehill (Ex. Minster)

The steam collier Minster was built in 1911 by S.P. Austin & Son in Sunderland for her owners Stephen Clarke & Co. and was the largest ship in their fleet before WW1. Minster had a single deck and very large deck hatches so was ideal for the London coal trade. She was fitted with two boilers and a triple expansion steam engine built by the North East Marine Engineering Co. in Sunderland (4). In 1914 she was sold to W.J. Tillet S. S. Co. Ltd. of Cardiff and was renamed the Rosehill, shortly after she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and fitted with a 12 pdr. gun on the stern.

On 23 September 1917 the Rosehill was carrying 3980 tons of coal from Cardiff to Devonport under the command of Captain Phillip Jones. At 6.05 pm when the Rosehill was 3 miles north-west by west of Rame Head she was torpedoed on the starboard side, just behind the engine room in No. 3 hold, by UB40 commanded by Oberleutnant Howaldt.

The sea pouring in through the hole in her side caused the stern to sink 10ft so the captain made the call to abandon ship. But at 6:45 pm the ship was still afloat so the Captain, Mate, Second Mate, Chief Engineer, four seamen and two firemen re-boarded her. An inspection showed that the ship was dry and the bulkheads were holding up under the strain. Two tugs arrived and tried to tow her to Fowey but made little progress, so tugs Woonda and Atalanta took over and made for Plymouth. At 1:50 am the ship showed signs of breaking in two so again those on board abandoned ship, the crew having just pulled clear in the boats the Rosehill sank to the bottom of Whitsand Bay.

Diving the Rosehill

The Rosehill lies on her starboard side in 33m on a rocky seabed with her bow to the east. The starboard side collapsed outwards and the port side collapsed on top so the wreck is well flattened, and the flat plates are now home to numerous pink sea fans. The two boilers stand proud of the seabed and are the highest point on the wreck. The features around the stern are still clearly identifiable with the huge propeller and rudder in place. To the south the stern gun still stands close by the steering quadrant, lying on its side with the barrel pointing upwards.

The Rosehill is being studied by Totnes BSAC under the Nautical Archaeology Society Adopt-a-Wreck Scheme.

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Side elevation of SS Minster (1)


Plan and elevation of SS Minster (1)


SS Minster