SS Afric

The SS Afric was built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast during 1899. Afric was a combination refrigerated cargo / passenger ship, and worked the Australian trade.

During WW1, Afric saw military duty as a troop transport during the Boer War. On February 17, 1917, under the cover of darkness, Afric was slowly making her way into Plymouth (England) and arrived short of the Eddystone light. As the sun began to rise, Afric was making 10 knots east-north-east when suddenly the Chief Officer on the bridge spotted the white streak of a torpedo zipping across the water at a 45° angle heading directly for Africa’s starboard bow. With a deafening explosion, the torpedo slammed into the steamer rocking it violently. The order was immediately given to abandon ship, and the crew began lowering lifeboats. The U-boat allowed the crew to row clear of Afric before a second torpedo was fired putting her on the bottom. The 3-month old UC-66 coastal mine laying sub commanded by Herbert Pustkuchen surfaced and picked up the survivors, including the Afric’s captain for questioning.

Discovered and positively identified in 1987, the wreck of the 550 ft long Afric lies in about 130 feet of water, 15.5 nautical miles south-east of Dodman Point. She is sitting upright with about a 15° list to port, fairly well intact, and her starboard anchor is still in place. Divers penetrating the forward cargo holds in the refrigerated area of Afric can still see the bones from the frozen sides of beef she was transporting in 1917. Much of her teak though slowly being consumed, is still visible. She lies covered in shrouds of fishing nets lost by boats over the years from getting tangled and caught on the superstructure.