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North Carolina Wreck Diving


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Built in 1900 as a passenger-freighter, the Proteus plied the waters between New Orleans and New York. 406 feet in length, she carried 108 steerage passengers, 50 second class passengers and 78 first class passengers. Her triple expansion steam engines enabled her to reach a speed of 16 knots. The fares for the five day trip were: first class - $35 one way or $60 round trip; second class - $27.50 either way and steerage - $20. The advent of World War I brought German U-Boats across the Atlantic to disrupt American shipping. On the night of August 18-19, 1918, the Proteus was making her way north observing wartime recommendations by running without navigational lights. Unfortunately , so was the SS Cushing a Standard Oil tanker. The Cushing dealt the Proteus a fatal blow. All passengers and crew survived except for one crew member who panicked immediately after the collision, leapt overboard and drowned! Today she lies in 125 feet of water 26 miles south of Hatteras Inlet.
Proteus propeller and rudder The massive rudder and propellor of the Proteus rise off the bottom culminating in the steering quadrant and dwarfing the diver looking for sand tiger sharks under the stern.
Swimming around to the starboard side of the wreck we see the four bladed propellor of the Proteus which measures eighteen feet across and is partially buried in the sand. (It's still there because it's steel!). Proteus propeller
 Proteus stern Swimming forward and looking toward the stern we see the propellor and rudder of the Proteus lying beneath the stern section which rises some thirty feet off the bottom and is capped with a steering quadrant.
The stern section and steering quadrant viewed while swimming along the propellor shaft. It is amazing that this small section of the wreck has survived relatively intact since 1918.  Proteus steering quadrant
 Steering quadrant closeup The steering quadrant crowns the stern section of the wreck and reflects the rudder's position hard to port. This is the most visually impressive portion of the wreck.
A sand tiger shark checks out the intruders in his environment. This guy was really curious and continued to swim right into the camera - an unnerving experience for both the diver and the shark!  Curious sand tiger
Large turtle on the Proteus A large turtle swims across the wreck just forward of the boilers. This fellow swam up along side me - fortunately I got the camera going before he veered off.

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Last modified on Sunday, June 27, 1999 22:35:58