On this day in 1961, a bright Sunday morning, the Bianca C prepared for departure from Grenada, having taken on board a few emigrants destined for Britain and some tourists who had spent the day on the island.
The Bianca C was a large tourist liner belonging to the Italian Costa Line, which frequently visited Grenada. It was so large it had to anchor in the outer harbour at St George’s.
Before it could pull up anchor, however, there was a terrific explosion in the engine room and the fire from those quarters quickly spread. Immediately the ship began a continuous sounding of its horn and displayed a flag recognisable to all sailors, informing them that the ship was on fire.
Members of the Grenada Yacht Club saw the ship’s flag of distress and soon it was clear to everyone that the ship was in serious trouble, as clouds of black smoke began issuing from it. The harbour authorities were alerted without delay.
All the passengers and crew were eventually saved except two crewmen. Nearly 400 passengers and 300 crew were accommodated at a special camp hastily set up by the government, in hotels and guesthouses. The rest were accommodated by Grenadians who opened their houses to the unfortunate travellers without charge, until the Costa Line made arrangements for their transport out of Grenada.
The next day, as the ship was being towed out of the harbour, the towing chain broke and the Bianca C sank in 160 feet of water about one and a quarter miles off Point Salines.
In gratitude for the assistance of the Grenadian public, the Costa Line gifted Grenada with the large bronze statue ‘Christ of the Abyss’ or ‘Christ of the Deep’ located on the Carenage.
The Bianca C, also known as the ‘Titanic of the Caribbean’ is rated among the top shipwreck diving sites in the world.
Paraphrased from Grenada: A History of its People by Beverley A Steele