Dive the HMS Proselyte

Scuba Diving on the HMS Proselyte

Discover a Piece of Caribbean History

The wreck of the HMS Proselyte is one of the most popular dives for divers who come to scuba St. Maarten in the Netherland Antilles. Here divers can explore the remains of this once mighty British warship that is now home to an abundance of marine life.

The History of the HMS Proselyte

The HMS Proselyte was a 133 foot British war frigate with 32 cannons. She was built in Rotterdam in the Netherlands in 1770 as a Dutch war frigate, the Jason, with 36 cannons. On the 8th of June 1796 the crew mutinied and turned the ship over to the British.

On September 4th, 1801, while serving in the British West Indies Fleet she had a turn of bad luck. This small, fast warship hit Man of War Shoals, just 1 mile from Fort Amsterdam while sailing to St. Maarten.

All of the 215 crew members where saved. It was determined the ship sank due to the negligence of the ships master, L. Williams. The ships commander, Captain George Fowke, was later tried at a court martial. He was not on board the ship when she sank.

The Dive

Today the Proselyte rest on her starboard side in approximately 50 feet of water, just outside of Great Bay Harbor. There are about 15 to 20 cannons and three 14 foot anchors still recognizable. Barrel bands and ballast plates can be found around the reef. If divers take the time to sift through the sand, with a little luck they can find musket balls, nails and broken pottery.

On the shallow part of the reef divers can see some of the ships ribbing. Be careful, the ribs are encrusted with fire coral. Hidden among the ribs are several cannon balls.

One would think this would be an eerie place. This is far from the truth. The reef is alive with marine life. Divers can watch parrot fish, damsel fish, and angel fish dart in and out of the rocks. Schools of French grunts sway in the current on the shallow part of the reef. Occasionally southern sting rays, spotted eagle rays and reef sharks pay a visit to the reef.

There are several ridges that make up Proselyte Reef. They form an amazing underwater terrain of canyons and ridges. Soft corals and sponges have painted the canyons and ridges with the colors of the rainbow. Red, purple, orange and green sponges compete for the divers attention.

Proselyte reef St. Maarten is a great dive for divers of all levels. It has an abundance of marine life and moderate to shallow depths. It's easy to see why this is one of the most popular dive sites for divers who come to the island for St Maarten scuba diving. And let's not forget the wreck of the Proselyte, a real piece of Caribbean history.

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