Carlisle Castle

11/06/1899

GPS:  S 32° 20.048' / E 115° 38.108’ 

Location: Coventry Reef

Site depth: 6-12 metres

Divable conditions: 1m swell

Visibilty: 5-15 metres

Vessel: 3 masted Barque

Construction: Steel

Tons: 1,344tons

Vessel length: 70 metres

Wreck event: Lost in a gale

The night of the 11th June 1899 marked one of the greatest maritime tragedies off the port of Fremantle since the beginning of the Swan River Colony. A fierce gale blew from the north west through the night wrecking two ships simultaneously with a horrendous loss of life. On the north coast of Rottnest Island the City of York was lost resulting in the death of the Captain and 10 crew, on Coventry Reef off Safety Bay, the Carlisle Castle was smashed against the reef and was a total loss with no survivours. 25 crew lost their lives on the Carlisle Castle and only one body was recovered, washed ashore in the area surrounding Warnbro Sound.

The Carlisle Castle was first launched in 1868, it had a steel hull and weighed 1,344 tons, it was arriving in Fremantle enroute from Glasgow when it was unable to sight the sun and stars for position fixing and ran aground during the night and sunk after hitting Coventry Reef.

Coventry Reef has very little protection from the swell and wind and is definitely a fair weather site. The wreck sits up against the northern face of the shallow reef, against a very impressive cave system. The wreckage extends down a descending slope from around 6 metres down to 12 metres, the eastern section of the wreck has extensive amounts of kelp growth but it is still easily distinguishable, the western sections, exposed to the swell are well uncovered. Still scattered amongst the wreck are numerous bottles, other cargo and building bricks. To the north, and marked on the image at the top of the page is a sand anchorage to access the site, the wreckage spills onto the sand and is easily located. Coventry's and the surrounding area can be a dangerous anchorage in moderate swell, always assess the site and anchorage before entry to the water. The site is also fully protected by the Historic Shipwrecks act.