Shipwrecks of famous shipping lines

Don Juan

1837-1837, Tarifa

Don Juan


The wooden paddle steamer Don Juan was built by Fletcher, Son and Fearnall, Poplar, London and powered by a 360hp two-cylinder direct-acting steam engine. Capacity for 24 passengers.

The Don Juan sailed on her maiden voyage to Gibraltar on 20 July 1837 and just one month later on 22 August the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company signed the first mail contract with the Admiralty. The Don Juan was chosen to take the first weekly contract sailing to the Peninsula, departing London on 1 September and calling at Falmouth a few days later to collect the mails. On board was Arthur Anderson, one of the company founders, along with his wife Mary and several businessmen. On the return voyage The Don Juan grounded off Tarifa Point and became a complete loss. All the passengers, mail and specie were saved. However the ship was not insured.


Dimensions45.2 x 7.3 m (148.4 x 24 ft)
Speed7 knots


The Don Juan lies in a depth 30m off the south-east tip of Tarifa Point and is one of the the most popular dives in the area. In a case of mistaken identity the wreck is known locally as 'San Andrés', and sometimes 'Minho'. For further information see "RMS Don Juan. La verdadera identidad del 'San Andrés'" ("RMS Don Juan. The true identity of the 'San Andrés'") by Alejandro Gandul.

Although possible as a shore dive the Don Juan is best dived from a boat. The most distinctive feature of the wreck is the engine that stands upright and several metres proud of the seabed. The rocker cover is easy to make out, along with connecting rods. On either side are the remains of the paddle wheels, each about 6m in diameter. Beyond the main wreck the water very quickly descends to 45m.


Dive Data
Position36.000517, -5.608125
Depth32m (105ft)

Dive Operators
More Information


RMS Don Juan. The true identity of San Andrés de Tarifa.