I arrived in Mustique in January and as a dive enthusiast I was told many stories by islanders about the SS Antilles, a shipwreck in L’Ansecoy Bay on the northern shores of the island.
The SS Antilles was a French ship assigned to West Indies cruising. Why her captain guided the Antilles into the narrow shallow strait around the Northern tip of the island is not known but the impact ruptured a fuel tank and she caught fire. Fortunately all of her passengers and crew were evacuated safely onto the island and were eventually rescued by Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth II. The burnt out hull could not be freed from the reef so the ship lay there for several months, eventually breaking in half and years later she was scrapped before moving to her final resting place in L’Ansecoy Bay.
At the beginning of September we were lucky enough to have a period of exceptionally calm waters and a light current, creating perfect diving conditions to explore the wreck. We set out on the island’s conservation boat and soon identified a long grey image on our GPS about ten times the size of our boat, so we knew we had found it…. and putting on masks and fins jumped in.
Diving down, the upper side was so near the water’s surface we could stand on the wreck and break the surface of the water, whilst you needed to be an experienced free diver or SCUBA diver to get closer to the underside of the ship. Large schools of fish swam around us as we went deeper towards the wreck finding the propeller sitting on the seabed and the anchor still attached to the hull. It was extraordinary after over fifty years to find these giant mainstays of the ship still intact on the seabed.
Diving the Antilles was an eerie but amazing experience that I won’t forget, and a rare chance to learn more about the island’s extraordinary history.
Nakita Poon Kong, Environmental Manager, Mustique