Famous sinkings

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by Guillermo, Jul 5, 2006.

  1. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    Thanks for the info, jehardiman.
  2. Tad
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    Tad Boat Designer

    Canadian marine accident reports are here; http://www.tsb.gc.ca/en/marine/index.asp?section=1

    A really excellent book on the loss of the Pride of Baltimore and other large sailing vessels is Tall Ships Down, by Daniel S. Parrott, Captain of Pride of Baltimore II. He covers in great detail the loss of 5 vessels, the Pamir in 1957, the Albatross in 1961, the Marques in 1984, the Pride of Baltimore in 1986, and the Maria Asumpta in 1995. The author analyzes the chain of mistakes that leads to each accident, and the chain of mistakes made during the accident. Should be required reading for all Naval Arc's.

  3. skyl4rk
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    skyl4rk Junior Member

    The Loss of the Chicora

    C H I C O R A

    The steamship Chicora was built for the Graham & Morton Transportation Company by the Detroit Dry Dock Company in 1892. This especially stout ship had been designed for winter passenger and cargo runs between Wisconsin and southern Michigan and had been built to cut through the ice pack and safely ply the often violent waters of the Great Lakes. She had a "guaranteed" speed of 17 miles per hour.

    The Chicora was a wooden hulled vessel, 198.5 feet long at the waterline (209 feet overall), with a 35 foot beam and a depth of 13.6 feet. She was equipped with a forward pilot house, two masts and one smokestack amidships. She boasted a triple expansion engine with #2 Scotch boilers described as 12 feet in diameter and 11.5 feet long. The engine's cylinder and stroke size was: 20+33+54 x 42" stroke.

    In January, 1895 the Chicora had already been tied up for the winter at St. Joseph, Michigan when her owners received a request to deliver a shipment of late winter flour from Milwaukee, Wisconsin back to St. Joseph. Captain Edward C. Stines of St. Joseph readied his ship and left for Milwaukee early Sunday morning, January 20. One of the tragic ironies of the voyage occurred when the captain, finding himself short of crew members, signed on his 23 year old son to replace his second mate who was ill.

    The next day -- an unusually pleasant January 21st found the Chicora ready for the return run across the lake. She left the dock at 5:00 AM -- ten minutes ahead of a messenger who arrived at the dock with a telegraph from the ship's owner, John Graham, warning the captain not to sail because the barometer was falling fast at Benton Harbor.

    The Chicora would have been about mid lake when the winds shifted to the southwest and began blowing with a typical January fury. Later that day, the ship was reported overdue and telegrams were sent up and down the Michigan coast to alert all harbors to keep a watch for the vessel.

    Several eyewitness reports fueled rumors that the ship was in trouble. A South Haven man reported seeing a ship heading toward shore with its stern down and sinking. A vessel was also seen headed for South Haven obviously in trouble and blowing her horn continuously.

    When at last the storm subsided, a dozen men from Saugatuck ventured out on to the ice and found a line of wreckage frozen into the ice about 3/4 miles from shore stretching from Saugatuck to South Haven. The newspaper reported an 8 foot square portion of decking, some oars and both masts were found less than 1/2 mile apart.

    During the first week in February a Chicago based tug reported sighting a hulk floating on the open water with crew members still alive! W. J. Hancock, regular clerk of the Chicora who missed the sailing, was sent to the southern part of the lake to investigate. After renting a tug he reported seeing only a dark iceberg covered with seagulls.

    No bodies were ever recovered. No wreckage more substantial than superstructure and masts was ever found. The hull of the Chicora lies, most likely intact, at the bottom of Lake Michigan somewhere east of mid lake, between Saugatuck and St. Joseph.

    The masts from the Chicora were skidded across the ice to shore by Christopher Schultz and sons and the Wark boys of Douglas. They were given to the Village of Douglas and on March 1, 1895 were dedicated as the new Douglas Village flag pole. The pole remained in Douglas for about 40 years before being discarded in the 1930s due to rot. It is currently on display at the Allegan Museum.

    As spring arrived and the ice thawed, more wreckage was discovered in including a chair from the engine room used by Chief Engineer Mc Clure. On April 14, a bottle washed ashore with a message that read, "All is lost, could see land if not snowed and blowed. Engine give out, drifting to shore in ice. Captain and clerk are swept off. We have a hard time of it. 10:15 o'clock."

    A week later a jar washed up in Glencoe, Illinois with a note written on paper from a small pocket notebook. The note read, "Chicora engines broke. Drifted into trough of sea. We have lost all hope. She has gone to pieces. Good bye. Mc Clure, Engineer."

    Were these notes legitimate or hoaxes? We may never know.
    2 people like this.
  4. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    Thanks a lot, Tad.
    Very nice post skyl4rk. Most interesting.
  5. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

  6. ronda
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    ronda Junior Member

    The Estonia casualty poses a number of questions that have not as yet been satisfactorily answered.
  7. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    Maria Asumpta & Marques

    I have found almost nothing in internet on the loss of the "Maria Asumpta", just references to the book pointed out by Tad.

    Here you have something from the BBC in 1997:

    "The owner and master of a sailing ship that sank killing three crew has lost an appeal against his conviction for manslaughter.
    A further 11 people were rescued when the 137-year-old Maria Asumpta - the world's oldest sailing ship - sank off the north Cornwall coast in 1995.
    Crown prosecutors said Litchfield set a dangerous course for the ship and made it rely on faulty engines, which failed.
    Relatives of 19 people who died on another ship owned by Litchfield, the Marques, 11 years earlier, also attended the appeal on Friday.
    Litchfield bought the square-rigger Marques in 1977 and sailed it 20,000 miles for a BBC series, The Voyage of Beagle, which told the story of Charles Darwin in South America.
    He later bought and restored the Maria Asumpta which made Atlantic crossings.
    But an inquiry into the sinking of the Marques off the coast of Bermuda criticised the vessel's lack of stability.
    After the Maria Asumpta disaster, a campaign by friends and relatives of those who had died at sea led Litchfield to the criminal courts and jail."

    The 137 year old Maria Asumpta was wrecked on Rumps Point, North Cornwall in May 1995. Three members of the crew and an observer, who fell from the cliff top, were drowned. The press at the time carried a picture of the shattered wreck with planking swept up onto the rocks.

    Three photos from maria Asumpta at: http://pplmedia.com/glydisas5.html

    About the Marques:
    "The Marques was one of 39 tall ships that took part in a transatlantic race in 1984. Shortly before dawn on Sunday, June 3, the ship sailed into a fierce squall north of Bermuda. The gusty weather was not unusual, but the wave that slammed the vessel broadside was. Crew member Philip Sefton, 22, described it as "a freakish wave of incredible force and size." As the ship tipped over, a second monster wave filled the Marques with water, sinking it in less than a minute. Out of a crew of 28, only Sefton and eight others survived."

    Attached Files:

  8. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    More modern sinkings

    Two Tris in a row!

    From the pages of Scuttlebutt:

    Newcastle orthodontist Ross Hobson, racing the Class 3 trimaran Ideal Stelrad in the Route du Rhum capsized Tuesday night at around 2300GMT, 1,760 miles from the finish line. The skipper immediately set off his distress beacons but has been unable to communicate. At the time Hobson was just clipping the north side of the secondary depression with the wind shifting 180° from the south to the north over a very localized area. Considering this weather situation has been in situ in this area for almost a week now the sea state is likely to be exceeding rough and confused.

    The Race Committee have been liaising with the CROSS Gris Nez, the MRCC in France, who have diverted two cargo ships to assist Hobson. At 0500GMT the Race Committee were informed that Hobson had been successfully rescued and had been brought on board the cargo ship Carmen. The ship is bound for Spain where she is due to dock on 12 November. -- http://www.thedailysail.com

    (Ross Hobson talks about the capsize of his trimaran from the safety of his rescue vessel.)

    "It was blowing about 40 to 45 knots, I just dropped the mainsail and I was under the storm staysail when a very big gust caught me on the foredeck. I was trying to get in the cockpit to release the staysail when the gust turned the boat on me, just a slow capsize over the bow. I guess I was netting around onto the hull upside down, opened up the safety hatch and cramped inside and then activated the safety EPIRB. And basically settled down to wait. Unfortunately, the satellite phone got wet and at the same time I destroyed the satellite phone back up, so I was not able to ring anybody to let them know that I was safe.

    Race Committee and US coastguard diverted the vessel Carmen to come and collect me. Their seamanship was fantastic because there were a 4-5 meters sea running with big winds. The skipper was able to come alongside and I stepped onto the pilot ladder. It was very easy. I think my boat is definitely lost at sea. She's just too far away from land to try to do a rescue of her. She's probably in recoverable conditions but just too far away for anyone to make it worthwhile going to get her, unfortunately."

    From yandy.co.uk:

    Skipper Stève Ravussin rescued by a Russian tanker

    The Orange Project trimaran capsized last night at 00:24 (French time) in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 600 miles north-west of the Azores. At 9:45 this morning, the Russian tanker “Okhta Bridge”, which was making progress towards Stève after having received the distress signal emitted by the Norfolk (USA) MRCC, managed to rescue the navigator. The operation has been a tricky one, and Stève was in a state of shock, but he’s now safe and sound, en route towards the South of England where he should step ashore on November the 13th. Having survived his capsize but also a particularly hazardous rescue operation, Ravussin said : “I’ve had three lives today”.

    A “slow motion” capsize

    The usually lively and enthusiast Swiss skipper is clearly still in shock. His trimaran, Orange Project, flipped over last night in heavy conditions - 35 knots of wind and short but steep waves. After a forced technical pit stop in the Azores last week, he was free from any result-related pressure, and was as he confessed sailing conservatively, with 2 reefs in the main and the Solent, ballasts filled in order to help the boat remain flat. While he was on the foredeck, busy tying up his gennaker to the net, the autopilot suddenly failed and the trimaran started luffing… Stève ran to the cockpit, but another pilot failure made the boat bear away violently this time! Nose-diving was unavoidable, the transoms were soon up in the air, the masthead came crashing into the sea… “The protection structure installed by Lalou Roucayrol (previous skipper of the boat, then named Banque Populaire) around the helmsman seat saved my life, Stève says. When the boat pitch-poled, I hung on to it, not knowing which way it would come down. The mast resistance prevented the total capsize for a moment, but eventually the boat ended up upside down. I found myself under the net. I was wearing my survival gear, which I had put on to shelter from the spray. I’m not a good swimmer, and I had to fight to keep my head out of the water. I saw my own death a first time… The crossbeam was on my back, and the swell, lifting the boat up, allowed me to breathe.” Stève found enough strength to climb up on the upturned boat. He then was able to turn his distress beacon on, and the signal was caught by the Maritime Rescue Center Control of Norfolk, USA. Norfolk then contacted the Route du Rhum organisers, and alerted the ships that were sailing in the area. The Okhta Bridge tanker, which was the closest, changed course and came to the rescue. Ironically enough, this ship belongs to the Sovcomflot company, which was Stève’s sponsor last year in the Oops Cup.

    An epic rescue operation

    Seeing the massive silhouette of a tanker getting dangerously closer surely is a scary experience… “The boat came 5 metres away from me, Stève recounts. I was tangled up in a mess of ropes, and I did not understand how the crew had planned to get me out of this trap. They tried to throw lines at me from the bow – I was right under it, and it culminated at 20 metres above the sea! I made myself a kind of harness, and managed to catch their rope. It was connected to an automatic winch, and when the crew thought I was properly tied, they turned the winch on, and I was dragged along the hull. I had kept with me a pair of scissors, which I used to cut all the ropes that were still tying me to the trimaran… I screamed like never before, I thought my end was near…”

    Stève is now safe and sound, in the hands of the Russian crew. “They’re incredibly kind and thoughtful. Physically, I’m fine. Mentally, I feel as if I’ve fired all my rounds, there’s not much left…”

    A nightmare of a Rhum

    The boat now drifts far away from inhabited lands. The beacon still sends a signal, giving its position to the maritime authorities. For the moment, recovering what will soon be nothing but a wreck is out of the question. “I wanted this Route du Rhum, I was prepared for it, and so was my whole team. It turned into a nightmare”, adds Stève.
  9. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    'Moquini' capsize

    This one is not so new, but also most interesting:
    "The probe into the mystery of what sank the Moquini with a highly-experienced crew has uncovered a litany of procedural irregularities as well as alleged problems with construction in the keel area of the yacht."
    More info at:

    The problem when adopting narrow and deep keels for cruising is that something like this may happen. Even with a sound hull and proper workmanship, if a container or the like is hit, keel may get lost.

    Attached Files:

  10. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    Atlantic Explorer sinks

    Perhaps not famous, but recent:

    "The Explorer will forever be remembered as the first ship to sink in the Antarctic Ocean. All 154 passengers and crew were rescued after several hours and are in Chile awaiting flights out of the country. The Explorer was originally designed specifically for plying the ice filled waters of Antarctica. After forty years of successfully doing that, it took up to four hours to evacuate the ship as it lay on its side sinking into the Antarctic forever."

    More at: http://www.ttgapers.com/Article1859.html


  11. Rob Moody
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    Rob Moody Support Vessels

    The VASA, a warship that was built for Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden from 1626 to 1628. The ship foundered and sank after sailing less than a nautical mile (2 km) into her maiden voyage on August 10, 1628.

    Her fate can either be viewed as a lesson in 'stability' or 'accountability'. Who was to blame?

    "The fault lay in the great and beautiful warship itself, too large and too strong, with a center of gravity too high in order to accommodate more gundecks, as per the request of King Gustavus Adolphus.

    The shipbuilder had complied, of course, with the king’s request for more and more guns, and since many 17th century vessels were very tall and unstable, it was not clear just how top-heavy and unstable the Vasa was. Master builders in the 17th century counted on “dead reckoning” and experience rather than drawings.

    The admiral also bore blame since he had observed the stabilizing test where thirty men were instructed by the shipmaster to run back and forth across the Vasa’s deck and had noted well that they had to stop after three runs, or the Vasa would have capsized. He had the power to stop the ship’s departure, but then, the King was in Prussia, waiting for the ship – impatiently."

    ref :http://www.theculturedtraveler.com/Archives/APR2005/Vasa.htm
  12. TerryKing
    Joined: Feb 2007
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    TerryKing On The Water SOON

    New data on Estonia sinking: Der Spiegel

    There's a very interesting article on recent simulations that apparently show what happened to the Estonia. See:

    An introduction:
    ---( copy )----
    Scientists Unveil Cause of Estonia Ferry Disaster
    By Ulrich Jaeger

    Scientists in Hamburg recently simulated the sinking of the Estonia, the 1994 Baltic Sea ferry disaster that killed 852 people. They discovered that the vessel was traveling much too fast in stormy seas and that the crew's attempts to save the ship by turning it actually caused it to capsize.

    The ship sank on the night of Sept. 28 1994, killing 852 people.

    It was 1:02 a.m. when his alarm clock slipped off the night table. A survivor of the Estonia disaster remembers the exact time because he had to replace the batteries, which fell out of the alarm clock when it hit the floor.

    1:00 a.m. ship time -- shortly before the ferry suddenly heaved to one side -- is the time that a computer simulation of the disaster begins. A group of Hamburg researchers are hoping to unravel the last secrets of the terrible night of Sept. 28, 1994. It was the night when the Estonia capsized in rough seas while en route from the Estonian capital of Tallinn to Stockholm. Only 137 of the 989 passengers and crew on board survived the disaster.

    To this day, some suspect that criminal activity was behind one of the worst disasters in European seafaring history. Theories that the ferry was in fact the target of an attack have also been fueled by questions about the credibility of the official investigation report, which Estonian, Finnish and Swedish authorities published in 1997.

    With these misgivings in mind, Swedish authorities hired experts at Hamburg Ship Model Basin (HSVA), a hydrodynamics research facility, and at the Hamburg University of Technology (TU) to conduct a study on the sinking of the Estonia. The group, headed by university researcher Stefan Krüger and Petri Valanto of HSVA, plans to submit its report in late March. The information they have uncovered so far suggests that their results will not only shed light on the causes of the disaster, but will also have consequences for passenger shipping. One certain conclusion is that evacuation procedures for combined car and passenger ferries like the Estonia are inadequate.


    The research team's calculations, which it obtained using ROLLS, the world's foremost simulation program for shipping disasters, already contradict speculation that the Baltic Sea disaster may have been caused by explosives. Instead, they suggest that speed, wave conditions and a turning maneuver sealed the fate of the Estonia.
    ----( continued on original website )-----

    Speaking as a person who regularly travels by ferry, I'm happy to see some real research being done into the dynamics of ferries in bad weather..
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2008
  13. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    ?? All they say was allready said before by the official investigators so it's "unveil" of nothing;)
  14. Pericles
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    Pericles Senior Member

  15. charmc
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    charmc Senior Member

    Yes, the headline is unfortunate. The content of the story says that the researchers are shedding more light on the causes by means of new simulation programs not available earlier. The story is much longer than the excerpt Terry posted (He said that.) and worth reading the whole thing.

    Terry's right about the research. Ferry owners, crew, and passengers can only benefit from this.
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