The HMS Bedfordshire is a 162 foot long British armed trawler that is in 105 feet of water. About 25 miles southeast of the Beaufort Inlet, it usually takes about 2 hours to reach this dive site after leaving the inlet. The wreck is in three separate pieces. Two of the pieces are within 75 feet of each other and the third section is 200 feet away from the other two sections. The damage from the torpedo was extensive. The highest part of the wreck is only four feet. There are a lot of I-beams, deck plates, pipes, and pieces of machinery scattered about the sand. There are six depth charges lying in the sand. Because of the shifting sand, all six might not be visible, but there are two that are stacked on top of each other that are always visible.
During the summer, the water temperature ranges from the upper 70's to the low 80's. Visibility averages 60 feet but can get up over a 100 feet. Large schools of amberjack and spadefish can be seen swimming around the wreck. Sea bass and grouper can also be seen regularly.
The British government, after being "leased" 50 World War I-era destroyers and 10 Lake Class Coast Guard cutters, sent 24 armed trawlers and their crews to help protect merchant ships from the German U-Boats. The HMS Bedfordshire was under the command of Lieutenant R. B. Davis and had a crew of 36 men. Her patrol area was from Norfolk, Virginia to Cape Lookout. In addition to escorting tankers and freighters, the HMS Bedfordshire also performed lone patrols searching for U-Boats.
The British tanker San Delfino had been torpedoed and four of its crew were going to be buried on U.S. soil. For a proper burial, British flags were needed. Sub-Lieutenant Thomas Cunningham provided the flags from the HMS Bedfordshire, but he also sent along two extra British flags.
On the night of May 12, 1942, the U-558 was patrolling offshore of Cape Lookout. Kapitanleutnant Gunter Krech, commander of the U-558, did not have any kills on this patrol of the east coast of the United States. Unable to sink any freighters or tankers, he took aim on the HMS Bedfordshire and fired a single torpedo. The torpedo hit directly amidships and the force from the impact actually lifted the ship out of the water. The pieces fell back to the sea and disappeared beneath the water.
The attack had been so swift that no message had been transmitted from the HMS Bedfordshire. For two days, everyone thought she was still on patrol and was observing radio silence. On May 14, 1942, two bodies washed up on the beach of Ocracoke. The bodies were identified as Stanley Craig, telegraphist, and Sub-Lieutenant Thomas Cunningham, both from the HMS Bedfordshire. The two extra British flags from the earlier burials were used to bury these two men.