A heavily damaged but beautiful third class plate, recovered from within the wreck of the SS Afric. The same plates were used by third class passengers onboard the RMS Titanic.
The SS Afric was built by Harland & Wolff in 1899, and used to ferry goods and passengers along the Australian trade route. During both the Second Boer War and WW1, it was also used as a troop transport ship. During the early hours of February 17, 1917, as the Afric was approaching the Eddystone light of Plymouth (UK), when the ship was torpedoed by a German UC-66 coastal mine laying sub, commanded by Herbert Pustkuchen.
This third class plate was recovered alongside other artefacts, including the ship’s bell, telegraph, and everyday items including a lamp and pair of binoculars. A clear separation line can be seen where the plate was buried in sediment, leaving one third in relatively good condition, while the other two thirds display fracture marks and stainage. The entire outside rim has been lost, likely during the dramatic sinking of the Afric. Third class White Star Line chinaware is relatively rare and hard to come by, let alone third class chinaware from a WSL wreck, making this plate incredibly important as a historical artefact.
The Afric now lies in about 130 feet of water, 15.5 nautical miles south-east of Dodman Point and is a popular dive site in the UK. An eight-minute dive video of the wreck can be viewed on YouTube at this link.