What remains of RMS Athens

Visible shipwrecks: RMS Athens at Mouille Point

RMS Athens seen from the sea
RMS Athens seen from the sea

An observant visitor to the promenade between Mouille Point and Green Point may notice something man-made sticking out of the ocean, less than 100 metres from shore. This artifact is the iron engine block of the Royal Mail Steamer Athens, which ran aground here in the great north westerly gale of 17 May 1865. Seventeen ships were wrecked during this colossal gale – reports of the events of that day (including a mention of the Athens) can be seen in this historical newspaper.

The engine block of RMS Athens is barely visible
The engine block of RMS Athens is barely visible to the left of this image

It is possible to dive the wreck; indeed, owing to its accessibility from shore, it has been extensively “salvaged” in the last 150-plus years! There is more information about diving the wreck on wikivoyage, but suffice it to say it’s a shallow dive best done when there is no swell to speak of. The wreck is very broken up and overgrown with kelp and invertebrate life, by all accounts.

There’s a great article on the history of RMS Athens on the Submerge website: click here to read it.

If you want to go and see the remains of the wreck, I’ve geotagged this instagram picture of the engine block.  My photos of the engine block as seen from the sea were taken while we were aboard the Ocean Adventurer. If you’re interested in other visible shipwrecks around Cape Town, you could visit the Kakapo, the Clan Stuart, and (by boat) the BOS 400, to start with!

If you’re interested in visible shipwrecks, check out my ebook Cape Town’s Visible Shipwrecks: A Guide for Explorers!

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Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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