The SS City of Brisbane was heading for Buenos Aires when, on 13th August 1918, her lookouts spotted the tell tale wake of an inbound torpedo. It was too late to do anything, and within seconds she was struck aft of hold number five. The side of the ship was completely blown in and the engine room was completely open to the sea. The ship immediately started to settle in the water and within a few minutes the stern was on the seabed and the master ordered all hands to abandon ship. The torpedo struck her port side, causing it to implode, leaving the engine room wide open to the sea. Within minutes the vessel was sinking the master ordered all crew to the life boats. All hands made it clear of the vessel and watched it sink.
Sussex History Forum
At 5.27pm on 13th August 1918, the SS City of Brisbane was hit by an explosion while sailing west off Newhaven. At the time it was not clear whether she had struck a mine or been hit by a torpedo. The gunners at Newhaven Fort immediately manned their guns and the nearby 4.7″ gun was also brought to readiness, but no sign of a submarine was seen by them. Three tugs were sent out six minutes after the explosion, together with Torpedo Boat Number 14. At 5.52pm the trawler ‘Rye’ dropped one depth charge and between that time and 6.30pm many more were dropped in the locality by trawlers, torpedo and ‘P’ type boats without result. At 6.35pm it was reported that the City of Brisbane was ‘down heavily by stern funnel base under water only bows well out’. Lines were attached to the ship by the tugs at 7.30pm and they tried to pull her in to Newhaven. It was reported that no lives were lost in the incident.
The Wreck Today
She lays three nautical miles south from Newhaven in 30 meters of water, standing some 6 meters proud at the bows. The steam trawler is the last recorded kill of the crew of the UB57. The Wreck is broken in two parts sitting upright on a mixture of silt & clay. The bow stands proud with other girders and tubes randomly sticking up in this area there is other parts of the vessel visible. She has a lot of dead mans fingers and plumose anemones growing on her with a large amount of mussels.