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SS SAGANAGA The Explorers Dream

The Saganaga, second shallowest of the Bell Island Wrecks, is an explorer’s dream. Its depth allows for longer bottom times and great visibility. It’s the perfect playground for divers of moderate skill, and will surprise and delight all visitors. With great swim-throughs and a garden of sea anemones, photographers will find a paradise between 60 and 85 feet. But one curious feature will pique your interest: why is the anchor on the deck?

If you are interested in exploring this Bell Island wreck and finding out more about the anchor, please see our Wreck-Reation tour.


The British steamship SS Saganaga was torpedoed and sunk by the German U-boat U-513 on September 5, 1942 at Bell Island, Conception Bay, Newfoundland. She was lying at anchor awaiting orders to set sail for North Sydney with a load of iron ore. U-513 had slid into the bay undercover of nightfall and lay in wait for the right opportunity to strike. It came the next morning at 11:07am when she fired her first salvo of two torpedoes. In the excitement of their first action, however, the torpedo men had neglected to set the battery switch and the torpedoes sank to the sea bottom. They may well still be there with their deadly cargo of 500 pounds of explosives. Quickly, the U-513 fired two more torpedoes, which easily hit their target. The first hit about amidships on the portside at 11:07 a.m. and the second ‘fish’ quickly followed, sending the Saganaga beneath the waves in less than thirty seconds. She had a crew of forty-eight men, including three naval gunners. Twenty nine of the crew were later reported missing.

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As a sideline to this tragic sea tale, one of the crew members who perished aboard the ill-fated vessel was Able Seaman Walter Skelton, from Grimsby, Lincolnshire, UK. His granddaughter, through a search on the internet, was astounded to find out that he had perished in Conception Bay when his family had assumed he was out in the North Atlantic at the time of the sinking. Much to their amazement, they found out their loved one was actually in Newfoundland. An expedition was immediately set up to journey overseas to pay final homage to Able Seaman Walter Skelton. A touching moment was felt by all as Walter’s grandson, Alan Chapman, dived on the deck of the Saganaga on September 6, 2004, to place a memorial wreath.