Built for The Castle Mailpacket Company by Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company of Govan. She was launched on 22nd May 1890 and measured 433.0′ x 49.7′ x 25.0′. She weighed 5274 gross tons. The Dunottar Castle was only to serve under her new owners for just over a year before she was requisitioned as a troop ship ferrying British soldiers to the Second Boar War. Her illustrious passengers were to include Lord Kitchener, Colonel Robert Baden-Powell as well as a young war correspondent for the Morning Post by the name of Winston Churchill.
At the end of the war in 1902 she returned briefly to service before she was laid up in Southampton Water in 1904. By 1907 she was being chartered to the Panama Railroad Company and then returned to her owners as part of the fleet of the newly formed Union Castle Steamship Line. The Dunottar Castle was sold to the Royal Mail Steamship Line in 1913 and renamed Caribbean. With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the Caribbean was again requisitioned, initially as a troopship to bring soldiers from Canada to Europe and later as an armed merchant cruiser. However, after it was found that her construction made her unsuitable to carry gun mountings, she was converted into a dockyard workers accommodation ship in May 1915.
HMS Caribbean set sail for Scapa Flow on 24th September 1915, but started to settle in the water in heavy swells around noon on 26th when she was about 35 miles south west of Cape Wrath. Several ships were despatched to assist when her SOS message was received but most were forced back due to the rough weather. Some trawlers from Stornoway and the destroyer HMS Birkenhead managed to reach the scene. An attempt by the Birkenhead to tow the Caribbean failed and a difficult night time rescue ensued.
The Caribbean finally sank early on 27th September with 15 crewmen still aboard who lost their lives. The ensuing Court of Enquiry later blamed the ship’s carpenter for being insufficiently familiar with the ship and for failing to shut all the scuttles – like most of the crew, he had joined the ship just 10 days earlier.
The wreck thought to be the Caribbean was found in 2004 in position 58° 12.844’N, 005° 43.955’W (WGS84). She lies in a general depth of just over 100 metres with a least depth of around 88 metres and sits upright, oriented approximately north west/south east. The wreck is relatively intact although the decks and most of the superstructure have collapsed. The foremast lies across the wreck and the two huge anchors are clearly visible at the bow.