Her Majesties Ship Bedfordshire joined the U.S. antisubmarine campaign
against the Germans in April 1942. She was a converted fishing trawler
poorly armed with British .303 machine guns, a four-inch quick-fire deck
gun and depth charges. The trawler patrolled the area from Norfolk, VA,
to Morehead City, NC. Morehead City was used as a "home base" for
maintenance repairs and port calls.
Moral was high from the sinking of the German U-boat U-352 just two days
earlier by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Icarus. On May 11, the converted
fishing vessel left Morehead City for the last time.
At the time the Bedfordshire left port, Captain Gunther Kretch, captain
of the German U-boat U-558 was cruising twenty-seven miles southeast of
Beaufort inlet. The U-boat had barley escaped from two patrol boats earlier
that day. Captain Kretch now spotted the H.M.S. Bedfordshire and was hungry
for a kill. Two torpedo’s were fired, but missed miserably. The third
torpedo hit its mark at 11:40 PM and the crew had no idea what hit them.
The torpedo was a perfect shot that blew the little 170’ patrol boat to
pieces, sinking her immediately. Unfortunately, the entire crew of 37
British sailors were killed.
Today the scattered remains of the H.M.S. Bedfordshire lie approximately
27 miles southeast of Beaufort inlet in 100’ of water. There is still
unexpended ordnance on this wreck, divers are encouraged not to touch
anything they’re not sure about. Due to the deeper depths and possibility
of currents, divers should have a bit of NC wreck diving experience under
their weightbelts before attempting this dive. Summer water temperatures
usually hover from the upper 70’s to lower 80’s. Visibility averages around
70 feet during the summer months. Marine life divers are treated to include:
flounder, spadefish, sheepshead, silver snappers, groupers, eels, stingrays,
amberjacks, black sea bass and, occasionally barracudas.
This wreck offers divers a chance to dive into an important, but tragic
piece of American and British history.