5 shipwrecks discovered in Lake Michigan

CROSS VILLAGE, Mich. – A Michigan shipwreck diver says he has discovered a cluster of wrecks in northern Lake Michigan.

Ross Richardson of Lake Ann said he uncovered the wrecks this summer in the waters around the small Island of Skillagalee, located between Beaver Island and the northern Lower Peninsula community of Cross Village, the Grand Rapids Press reported. An extensive reef system about four feet under the water was responsible for many shipwrecks in the area before advanced navigation.

“I was looking for wrecks that haven’t been discovered and have a decent last known position,” said Richardson, who’s originally from Grand Rapids. “This is kind of the last place in Lake Michigan where there’s a concentration of wrecks that are undiscovered, but somewhat attainable.”

Ceremony to recall sinking of Edmund Fitzgerald


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The Titanic Story

A century has sailed by since the luxury steamship RMS Titanic met its catastrophic end in the North Atlantic, plunging two miles to the ocean floor after sideswiping an iceberg during its maiden voyage. Rather than the intended Port of New York, a deep-sea grave became the pride of the White Star Line’s final destination in the early hours of April 15, 1912. More than 1,500 people lost their lives in the disaster. In the decades since her demise, Titanic has inspired countless books and several notable films while continuing to make headlines, particularly since the 1985 discovery of her resting place off the coast of Newfoundland. Meanwhile, her story has entered the public consciousness as a powerful cautionary tale about the perils of human hubris.




The Royal Mail Steamer Titanic was the product of intense competition among rival shipping lines in the first half of the 20th century. In particular, the White Star Line found itself in a battle for steamship primacy with Cunard, a venerable British firm with two standout ships that ranked among the most sophisticated and luxurious of their time. Cunard’s Mauretania began service in 1907 and immediately set a speed record for the fastest transatlantic crossing that it held for 22 years. Cunard’s other masterpiece, Lusitania, launched the same year and was lauded for its spectacular interiors. It met its tragic end–and entered the annals of world history–on May 7, 1915, when a torpedo fired by a German U-boat sunk the ship, killing nearly 1,200 of the 1,959 people on board and precipitating the United States’ entry into World War I.

The same year that Cunard unveiled its two magnificent liners, J. Bruce Ismay, chief executive of White Star, discussed the construction of three large ships with William J. Pirrie, chairman of the Belfast-based shipbuilding company Harland and Wolff. Part of a new “Olympic” class of liners, they would each measure 882 feet in length and 92.5 feet at their broadest point, making them the largest of their time. In March 1909, work began in the massive Harland and Wolff yard on the second of these ships, Titanic, and continued nonstop until the spring of 1911.



On May 31, 1911, Titanic’s immense hull–at the time, the largest movable manmade object in the world–made its way down the slipways and into the River Lagan in Belfast. More than 100,000 people attended the launching, which took just over a minute and went off without a hitch. The hull was immediately towed to a mammoth fitting-out dock where thousands of workers would spend most of the next year building the ship’s decks, constructing her lavish interiors and installing the 29 giant boilers that would power her two main steam engines.




According to some hypotheses, Titanic was doomed from the start by the design so many lauded as state-of-the-art. The Olympic-class ships featured a double bottom and 15 watertight bulkheads equipped with electric watertight doors which could be operated individually or simultaneously by a switch on the bridge. It was these watertight bulkheads that inspired Shipbuilder magazine, in a special issue devoted to the Olympic liners, to deem them “practically unsinkable.” But the watertight compartment design contained a flaw that may have been a critical factor in Titanic’s sinking: While the individual bulkheads were indeed watertight, water could spill from one compartment into another. Several of Titanic’s Cunard-owned contemporaries, by contrast, already boasted innovative safety features devised to avoid this very situation. Had White Star taken a cue from its competitor, it might have saved Titanic from disaster.



The second critical safety lapse that contributed to the loss of so many lives was the number of lifeboats carried on Titanic. Those 16 boats, along with four Engelhardt “collapsibles,” could accommodate 1,178 people. Titanic when full could carry 2,435 passengers, and a crew of approximately 900 brought her capacity to more than 3,300 people. As a result, even if the lifeboats were loaded to full capacity during an emergency evacuation, there were available seats for only one-third of those on board. While unthinkably inadequate by today’s standards, Titanic’s supply of lifeboats actually exceeded the British Board of Trade’s regulations.



The largest passenger steamship ever built, Titanic created quite a stir when it departed for its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, on April 10, 1912. After stops in Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown (now known as Cobh), Ireland, the ship set sail for New York with 2,240 passengers and crew—or “souls,” the expression then used in the shipping industry, usually in connection with a sinking—on board.

As befitting the first transatlantic crossing of the world’s most celebrated ship, many of these souls were high-ranking officials, wealthy industrialists, dignitaries and celebrities. First and foremost was the White Star Line’s managing director, J. Bruce Ismay, accompanied by Thomas Andrews, the ship’s builder from Harland and Wolff. (Missing was J.P. Morgan, whose International Mercantile Marine shipping trust controlled the White Star Line and who had selected Ismay as a company officer. The financier had planned to join his associates on Titanic but canceled at the last minute when some business matters delayed him.)



The wealthiest passenger was John Jacob Astor IV, who had made waves a year earlier by marrying 18-year-old Madeleine Talmadge Force, a young woman 29 years his junior, not long after divorcing his first wife. Other millionaire passengers included the elderly owner of Macy’s, Isidor Straus, and his wife Ida; industrialist Benjamin Guggenheim, accompanied by his mistress, valet and chauffeur; and widow and heiress Margaret “Molly” Brown, who would earn her “unsinkable” nickname by helping to maintain calm and order while the lifeboats were being loaded and boosting the spirits of her fellow survivors.

The employees attending to this collection of First Class notables were largely traveling Second Class, along with academics, tourists, journalists and others who would enjoy a level of service equivalent to First Class on most other ships. But by far the largest group of passengers was in Third Class: more than 700, exceeding the other two levels combined. Some had paid less than $20 to make the crossing. It was Third Class that was the major source of profit for shipping lines like White Star and Cunard, and Titanic was designed to offer these passengers accommodations and amenities superior to those found in Third Class on any ship up to that time.

Titanic’s departure from Southampton on April 10 was not without some oddities. A small coal fire was discovered in one of her bunkers–an alarming but not uncommon occurrence on steamships of the day. Stokers hosed down the smoldering coal and shoveled it aside to reach the base of the blaze. After assessing the situation, the captain and chief engineer concluded that it was unlikely it had caused any damage that could affect the hull structure, and the stokers were ordered to continue controlling the fire at sea. According to a theory put forth by a small number of Titanic experts, the fire became uncontrollable after the ship left Southampton, forcing the crew to attempt a full-speed crossing; moving at such a fast pace, they were unable to avoid the fatal collision with the iceberg. Another unsettling event took place when Titanic left the Southampton dock. As she got underway, she narrowly escaped a collision with the America Line’s S.S. New York. Superstitious Titanic buffs often point to this as the worst kind of omen for a ship departing on her maiden voyage. Ironically, had Titanic collided with the ship named for her port of destination, the delay might have spared the ship from being in the precise position for her encounter with the iceberg.



That encounter took place roughly four days out, at about 11:30 p.m. on April 14. Titanic was equipped with a Marconi wireless, and there had been sporadic reports of ice from other ships, but she was sailing on calm seas under a moonless, clear sky. A lookout saw the iceberg dead ahead coming out of a slight haze, rang the warning bell and telephoned the bridge. The engines were quickly reversed and the ship was turned sharply, and instead of making direct impact the berg seemed to graze along the side of the ship, sprinkling ice fragments on the forward deck. Sensing no collision, the lookouts were relieved. They had no idea that the iceberg’s jagged underwater spur had slashed a 300-foot gash well below the ship’s waterline, and that Titanic was doomed. By the time the captain toured the damaged area with Harland and Wolff’s Thomas Andrews, five compartments were already filling with seawater, and the bow of the ship was alarmingly down. Andrews did a quick calculation and estimated that Titanic might remain afloat for an hour and a half, perhaps slightly more. At that point the captain, who had already instructed his wireless operator to call for help, ordered the lifeboats to be loaded.


A little more than an hour after contact with the iceberg, a largely disorganized and haphazard evacuation process began with the lowering of the first lifeboat. The craft was designed to hold 65 people; it left with only 28 aboard. Amid the confusion and chaos during the precious hours before Titanic plunged into the sea, nearly every boat would be launched woefully under-filled, some with only a handful of passengers. In compliance with the law of the sea, women and children boarded the boats first; only when there were no women or children nearby were men permitted to board. Yet many of the victims were in fact women and children, the result of disorderly procedures that failed to get them to the boats in the first place.

Exceeding Andrews’ prediction, Titanic stubbornly managed to stay afloat for close to three hours. Those hours witnessed acts of craven cowardice and extraordinary bravery. Hundreds of human dramas unfolded between the order to load the lifeboats and the ship’s final plunge: Men saw off wives and children, families were separated in the confusion and selfless individuals gave up their spots to remain with loved ones or allow a more vulnerable passenger to escape.

The ship’s most illustrious passengers each responded to the circumstances with conduct that has become an integral part of the Titanic legend. Ismay, the White Star managing director, helped load some of the boats and later stepped onto a collapsible as it was being lowered. Although no women or children were in the vicinity when he abandoned ship, he would never live down the ignominy of surviving the disaster while so many others perished. Thomas Andrews, Titanic’s chief designer, was last seen in the First Class smoking room, staring blankly at a painting of a ship on the wall. Astor deposited Madeleine in a lifeboat and, remarking that she was pregnant, asked if he could accompany her; refused entry, he managed to kiss her goodbye just before the boat was lowered away. Although offered a seat on account of his age, Isidor Straus refused any special consideration, and his wife Ida would not leave her husband behind. The couple retired to their cabin and perished together. Benjamin Guggenheim and his valet returned to their rooms and changed into formal evening dress; emerging onto the deck, he famously declared, “We are dressed in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.” Molly Brown helped load the boats and finally was forced into one of the last to leave. She implored its crewmen to turn back for survivors, but they refused, fearing they would be swamped by desperate people trying to escape the freezing ocean.

Titanic, nearly perpendicular and with many of her lights still aglow, finally dove beneath the icy surface at approximately 2:20 a.m. on April 15. Throughout the morning, Cunard’s Carpathia, after receiving Titanic’s distress call at midnight and steaming at full speed while dodging ice floes all night, rounded up all of the lifeboats. They contained only 705 survivors.



At least five separate boards of inquiry on both sides of the Atlantic conducted comprehensive hearings on Titanic’s sinking, interviewing dozens of witnesses and consulting with many maritime experts. Every conceivable subject was investigated, from the conduct of the officers and crew to the construction of the ship. While it has always been assumed that the ship sank as a result of the gash that caused the compartments to flood, various other theories have emerged over the decades, including that the ship’s steel plates were too brittle for the near-freezing Atlantic waters, that the impact caused rivets to pop and that the expansion joints failed, among others.


The technological aspects of the catastrophe aside, Titanic’s demise has taken on a deeper, almost mythic, meaning in popular culture. Many view the tragedy as a morality play about the dangers of human hubris: Titanic’s creators believed they had built an “unsinkable” ship that could not be defeated by the laws of nature. This same overconfidence explains the electrifying impact Titanic’s sinking had on the public when she was lost. There was widespread disbelief that the ship could possibly have sunk, and, due to the era’s slow and unreliable means of communication, misinformation abounded. Newspapers initially reported that the ship had collided with an iceberg but remained afloat and was being towed to port with everyone on board. It took many hours for accurate accounts to become available, and even then people had trouble accepting that this paradigm of modern technology could sink on her maiden voyage, taking more than 1,500 souls with her.

The ship historian John Maxtone-Graham has compared Titanic’s story to the Challenger space shuttle disaster of 1986. In that case, the world reeled at the notion that some of the most sophisticated technology ever created could explode into oblivion along with its crew. Both tragedies triggered a sudden and complete collapse in confidence, revealing that we are vulnerable despite our modern presumptions of technological infallibility.



World Discoverer





The vessel was originally built as the BEWA Discoverer in 1974.[3] The ship was sold to BEWA Cruises out of Denmark. In July 1976, the vessel was again sold to Adventure Cruises, Inc. and was renamed the World Discoverer. The ship also became a long-term charter to Society Expeditions. In 1976, the ship was registered in Singapore. In 1987, Society Expedition came under new ownership and was renamed Society Expedition Cruises, with offices in Seattle and Germany. The new owner of the ship was Discoverer Reederei who also has ownership of other vessels, such as MV Explorer.[citation needed] In 1990, she was registered in Liberia under the name World Discoverer. The vessel had a double hull construction, allowing for periodic voyages to the Antarctic polar regions to allow its passengers to observe ice floe movements and providing protection for minor impacts. In 1996, the ship was refurbished under the new name, World Discoverer. The ship carried a fleet of inflatable dinghies, allowing passengers to move closer to ice floes for observation.[4]
Service history[edit source | editbeta]

“World Discoverer” anchored in port

During the period from November through February (Austral summer), the ship conducted cruises in the Southern Hemisphere and visited places like Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, Chile, Ushuaia, Argentina. Between March and May, the ship cruised the South Pacific Islands. It also cruised this area between the months of August and October. Between the months of June and August, the ship cruised around the Alaskan region and also the Russian border around the Bering Sea. The World Discoverer was classified as a Swedish/Finnish 1A Ice Class, allowing the ship to withstand minor floe impacts.[5] The World Discoverer also had a 8,000 miles (13,000 km) cruising range, allowing the ship travel the Northwest Passage. The ship was captained by Oliver Kruess, who had previously crewed as Chief Mate. Society Expeditions also hired a small team of experienced expedition leaders to answer tourist questions concerning the region, ice floes, their movements, and the ship’s destinations. A small fleet of dinghies landed passengers on various shorelines for observation of local wildlife in the area. Each day comprised typically two to three shore expeditions, led by geologists, historians, naturalists, and marine biologists. The ship was equipped with an observation lounge, medical center with an active physician, library, sun deck with a small swimming pool, small fitness center, and a lecture hall.[6]
Wreck[edit source | editbeta]

On Sunday April 30, 2000, at 4 p.m. local time (0500 GMT), the ship struck a large uncharted rock or reef in the Sandfly Passage, Solomon Islands. Captain Oliver Kruess sent a distress signal, which was received in Honiara, the Solomon Islands’ capital city. A passenger ferry was dispatched to the ship and all passengers were then transported to safety. The captain then brought the ship into Roderick Bay after the ship began to list 20 degrees and grounded it to avoid sinking. After underwater surveying of the ship, the World Discoverer was declared a “constructive loss”. The ship has remained in Roderick Bay ever since.[7] There were no reports of any oil, petroleum or other pollutant spills as a result of the impact.
Michael Lomax, president of Society Expeditions, congratulated the captain and their crew for their heroic and professional actions, saying that they performed in an “exemplary manner” during the crisis. The ship was scheduled to have its annual dry-dock inspection on May 11 when annual maintenance work would have been completed. Also planned were the addition of two additional suites on the boat deck and also the installation of a new fire protection system throughout the ship.[8]
Aftermath[edit source | editbeta]

The World Discoverer still sits in Roderick Bay on Nggela Island with a 46° list. The closest salvage companies to attempt salvage of the ship, stationed in Australia, found the ship ransacked by the locals and other factions. The Solomon Islands were undergoing civil war; the ship was boarded by locals who took the equipment and other critical devices. Tidal activity damaged the ship even more.[citation needed] The ship has been sustaining surface rusting with many of the windows removed. The ship became a tourist attraction with the locals of the island, as well as other cruise lines that pass by the World Discoverer, including MV Princess II. The ship can still be seen on Google Maps.[9][10]
In the aftermath of the wreck, Society Expedition refurbished an ice class vessel called the new World Discoverer, and it was launched in 2002, resuming cruises again. Society Expedition ceased operations in June 2004 after their new vessel was seized by creditors in Nome, Alaska. Two weeks later, Society Expedition filed chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy in July 2004.[11]


Eduard Bohlen



The Eduard Bohlen ran aground on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast in 1909 due to heavy fog. After attempts to tow the ship back to sea failed and a brief stint as a hotel for workers in a nearby diamond mine, the ship was finally abandoned. Its remains can now be found several hundred meters inland in the Namib Desert.

The Eduard Bohlen was a ship that ran aground off the coast of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast on September 5, 1909, in a thick fog. Currently the wreck lies in the sand a quarter mile from the shoreline.
The ship was a 2,272 gross ton cargo ship with a length of 310 feet. In September 1909, it ran aground in thick fog and wrecked at Conception Bay while on a voyage from Swakopmund to Table Bay. This wreck is said to symbolise the loneliness of Namibia’s coast best. Its remains lie rusting in the sand, partially buried. The Otavi foundered here and sank in 1945.


The Moma


There can be no more an evocative dive than a tour of a British  war ship-especially  when it has seen action. In many cases this kind of shipwreck is often off limits to divers. The ensuing conflict usually creates casualties, often fatal, and the wrecks receive war grave status. The vision of armament  and the evidence of damage is  a strong  reminder of a conflict which took place many years ago-a violent struggle which ended in defeat and often death.

Egyptian waters are littered with British warships, mainly from the second  world war, Barham, Coventry, Calcutta, Defender, Heythrop and Zulu are just a few, and these vessels rest along the Mediterranean coast. The Egyptian Red Sea is the resting place of two British warships (and one American lend lease )-but neither are a result of the Second World War. The Thistlegorm has often been wrongly labeled a warship, even HMS-she was a defensively armed merchant ship-her guns could only train (I resist the term fire) her guns in the aft quadrant

In the southern waters of Egypt, a classic world war two destroyer, still boasting her WW2 armament sleeps quietly in rarely dived waters. PETER COLLINGS takes us on a guided tour of this  maritime museum, a window into our naval warfare past..

In 1955 the Royal Navy decommissioned several of its “Z”(ZAMBESI) class destroyers. These were fast (35knot) vessels, sleek and manoeuvrable and designed primarily as sub chasers. While many of the vessels were scrapped 4 were sold on-Two to Egypt-HMS MYNGS (to become the AL QAHER), H.M.S.ZENITH (to become the   AL FATHA ) and two to ISRAEL, HMS ZEALOUS and HMS ZODIAC( to be renamed ELATH and YAFFA respectively) .

On October 21st 1967 during the Six Day War the ELATH, was 14 miles off Port Said, when she was sunk with  4 “ Styx” miles from the Egyptian-Komar class  missile carrying gun ship ASSUIT.47 of her crew died with many of the 151 survivors injured. She had been zig- zagging in the bay of Romani-in and out of territorial waters, taunting Egyptian radar- A month earlier she had sunk two Egyptian gun boats. She was the first vessel to be sunk by  surface to ship missiles. The wreck has been located in 21mtrs of water14 miles north east of Port Said. Although Israeli she, was in fact a sister ship of the Al Qaher!

In MAY 1970 a wing of  French built Dassault Mirage fighters, in direct retaliation for the sinking of the Eilath, attacked the Al Quaher while it was  at anchor. Bristling with anti aircraft guns and a new firing tracking  system, the crew of the Al Qaher held off several attacks despite being hit by sidewinder missiles and countless rounds from the planes in wing cannons. Effective against WW2 enemy aircraft,these a/a guns were no match for more modern rocket/ missile warfare.  With a range of 800 miles the aircraft could sustain a prolonged attack over the target. With a still decimated  Egyptian air force the Israelis carried on the relentless attack un-hindered from the air .Fires spread throughout the vessel and internal explosions raked the ship. Her bridge, mast and several gun emplacements were blown clear of the ship. Eventually the 300 ft destroyer settled by the stern, her entire superstructure ablaze.

As she sank she swung round on her anchor and grounded on a coral shelf ripping her bow plates open-her draught  was only 3 mtrs. Thus leaving her fore- section and devastated superstructure above water.

Engine room




The Moma (Project 861) was and is a costal survey ship. They are also used as buoy tenders. The converted Moma (Project 861M) is an Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) gathering ship converted from Moma class survey ship/buoy tenders. These ships carry SSV (Communications Vessel) numbers on the bow


Russian Designation:  SSV (Communications Ship)

Builder:  Stocznia Polnocna,     Gdansk (Poland)


Year adopted: 1967

Number in Class: 28 ships total (production from 1968 – 1974)

Operational Status: Russia:  Still in active service

Displacement: 1,580 tons full load

Length: 73.3 meters. Draught: 3.8 meters.Beam:10.8 meters

Crew: 41 – 120 Officers and Sailors (depending on the mission)

Engine: 2 x Zgoda/sulzer 6TD48 diesel engines delivering 3,600 hp

Max Speed: 17 Knots    Range:  8,700 Nautical miles at 11 knots

Sensor Suite: 2 x Don-2 navigational radars

Sonar: Bronza arrays

Electronic Warfare: Intercept and DF arrays



The wreck lies upright in 24 mtrs in the western bay of Zabagad Island. Her bow and small hold have broken off and lie over to port, full of the obligatory glassfish. There is no evidence of any cargo. She is otherwise intact, with a stern superstructure and engine room.  Access to her bridge, complete with instruments, engine room and galley along with companionway swim-throughs is easy and exciting.

Her instrument panel and helm are located in the bridge behind which is a navigation room and stairs down into the accommodation and galley areas. Evidence of beds, tool boxes and every day items are scattered throughout the interior. Large diameter corrugated hoses lie in her stern and her single forward  hold. All her deck fittings are visible, and intact including the empty lifeboat davits, stern winch, cable drums for the towed arrays and “toadstool” ventilator tops. Her  central comms  mast almost breaks the surface. Compass posts sit at each side of the flying bridge.  Access to the engine room and her accommodation area can be gained from doors situated on the rear deck. The rear section of the ship can also be explored from the large holes in her hull. It is possible with care to enter the engine room this way and then exit via the rear doorways or her skylights. In front of the wheelhouse is a control room for what appears to be piping and valves for liquid fuel. The lack of depth (max 24 mtrs) means the wreck is usually bathed in strong sunlight, the clearer water being the upper levels as the sandy bed often becomes cloudy if a swell is present. The stern sitting bolt upright is an impressive sight and is very photogenic.

The bow section lies over to starboard,   the bow itself hard into the reef, and the central raised walkway having broken of from the main section by the deckhouse. Near the winch is an upright structure possibly a crane of some kind and access to the hold is open or though one of two service hatches on the deck or for the less adventurous through a he gash in her starboard side. From the walkway a  forward comms mast runs out almost horizontal and is home to many small reef fishes and soft corals.


It is clear form all of the evidence that this vessel was used as an “intelligence gatherer”, but what was she doing tucked away in a bay in a quite corner of Egypt near the Sudanese border? Some time between 1974 and 1985 –the cold war period

Had she simply put in for repairs and the ensueing explosion sunk her? If so why had all the watertight doors been cut at the hinges, preventing them from being refitted

Why the HT a cables and fuel pipes running ashore?

The Russians were operating out of the Dallak Islands (Eritria) during the cold war. She may be one such vessel. They also had strong connections with the Egyptians and there are several Russian built Egyptian shipwrecks from the Arab conflicts. However there is nothing on the ship to suggest she was an Egyptian vessel or indeed have an Egyptian crew.

Was she watching shipping for both Russia and Egypt?

Perhaps the clouded past of the cold war will keep her full story a secret.

One final enigma is this sign-the only one found in English


if the story of this wreck has captured you imagination send for our FREE E BOOK NOW…………


The sandy Island of Mikalawa or Saranaka as it is sometimes known lies to the south of Ras Banas and is and ideal  overnight stop over. It also provides us with a sheltered deep dive close to shore. The island also has an interesting selection of birds.

When first dived a few years ago this small wreck of a fishing trawler was perched in 30 mtrs, now she is slowly sliding down the slope into deeper water, with her bow now in 55 mtrs. Little is known about the wreck, local information tells that she had engine trouble, put into the lagoon for repairs, struck the reef and sank. although it is clear that an aborted salvage operation took place. She lies very close to the reef, down a steep slope with her stern in 30 mtrs. Nets festoon the prop and rudder, and the keel has now dug into the seabed with the bow her deepest point.. The bow is quite dramatic and the clear water allows for a great view of the trawler towering above. Although the wheelhouse is starting to collapse, it is possible to explore the engine room and her holds, as well as companionways and accommodation areas.  The wood is now beginning to deteriorate and holes are appearing in the decking and superstructure. The deck fittings are still in place and a resident family of batfish patrol the vessels gantries. By taking advantage of the wrecks attitude, divers can enjoy a deep dive with a slow ascent up the slope to the reef.Most if not all of the captains I work with have fishing backgrounds and the name ABU SAIMMA has been offered but so far is unconfirmed

The reef base starts at 15 mtrs and offers an ideal off gas after exploring the wreck. Sometimes called the Saranaka wreck

The reef base starts at 15 mtrs and offers an ideal off gas after exploring the wreck. Sometimes called the Saranaka wreck




MV Pasha Bulker (saved)


The MV Pasha Bulker is a Panamax bulk carrier of 76,741 metric tons deadweight (DWT) operated by the Lauritzen Bulkers Shipping company and owned by Japanese Disponent Owners.[2][3] While waiting in the open ocean outside the harbour to load coal the Pasha Bulker ran aground during a major storm on 8 June 2007 on Nobbys Beach in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. It was refloated and moved to a safe location offshore on 2 July 2007 at 9:48 p.m. AEST before being towed to Japan for major repairs on 26 July 2007.
The Pasha Bulker was built in 2006 by Sasebo Heavy Industries Co., and sails under the flag of Panama as a flag of convenience. It is 225 m (738 ft) in length with a beam of 32.2 m (105.6 ft) and a cargo hold capacity (grain) of 90,911 cubic metres (3,210,492 cu ft).

Storm and beaching[edit source | editbeta]

Main article: June 2007 Hunter Region and Central Coast storms
Early on the morning of 8 June 2007, Newcastle Port Corporation radioed the 56 moored ships waiting off the coast to load coal to warn them to move out to sea to escape an approaching storm.[5] The Pasha Bulker, along with 10 other ships, did not heed the warning. As the storm hit, the Pasha Bulker could not clear the coast and it beached at 9:51am.[6] The ship never called for tug assistance, ran aground with a fully operational engine room and still had both anchors stored in the hawsepipes leading some maritime experts to believe that proper precautions were not taken by the ship’s captain.
After the Pasha Bulker ran aground the 22 Filipino and Korean crew members aboard were successfully rescued by the Westpac Rescue helicopter service from the vessel, which grounded about 30 m (98 ft) from shore at the popular Nobbys Beach.[7] The ship was empty of cargo at the time, waiting to load 58,000 tonnes of coal from Newcastle Port.[8] However, it contained around 700 tonnes of fuel oil, 38 tonnes of diesel and 40 tonnes of lube oil, which if released could have caused an ecological problem [7]
During further stormy weather, the ship was pushed onto the beach so that it was almost parallel to the beach, and both bow and stern were stuck on the sand. The whole ship was then completely trapped between the beach and a rocky reef. In the first week the salvage crew loaded the ship with ballast water, which sunk it lower, so that its hull was firmly on the seabed.
Its location on a popular beach and close proximity to the Newcastle CBD made the Pasha Bulker a tourist destination and precipitated a minor economic boom.[9] One radio station promoted a song called “Blame it on the Pasha Bulker”, a rewrite of the song, “Blame it on the Bossa Nova”.[10] The Pasha Bulker was even advertised on eBay for a short time, with bids reaching $16,000,000 before eBay closed the auction.[11]
While beached the Pasha Bulker was used as a billboard for slogans by Greenpeace on 27 June 2007. Lasers beamed messages such as “Coal causes climate change chaos” and “This is what climate change looks like” in red on the side of the ship. Greenpeace stated that the protest was motivated by unnamed “scientists tell[ing] us that storm surges of the type that we saw earlier this month are something that we can expect more of as a result of climate change.

Salvage operation[edit source | editbeta]

Planning[edit source | editbeta]
A helicopter operating above the beached ship
Svitzer, a Danish company, was awarded the contract to salvage the bulk carrier.[13]
On 9 June 2007 a salvage team, led by Drew Shannon, boarded the ship to assess the condition of the hull. Salvage investigators confirmed on 11 June 2007 that the outer shell of the ship’s double hull had been breached and was taking on water on the starboard side.[14]
It was decided that the refloating attempt would proceed despite concerns that the ship was too badly damaged to be refloated. Any attempt at moving the ship was to occur at high tide, when the ship’s own buoyancy would reduce the towing force required and the chance of it breaking into two.[15] The salvage attempt was not to involve removing any of the fuel or oil off the vessel.
The plan to salvage the Pasha Bulker used anchors laid out at sea, which the ship was to use to then winch itself seawards, and three tug boats towing it with the aim of dragging the bow over a rock reef. The carrier would then be pulled seaward in a path between two rocky reefs.[16] A hydrographic survey was conducted to survey and map the bottom of the ocean through the surf zone using a surf ski single beam echo sounder and GPS. This gave the salvage team more insight into the direction for refloating the ship.[17]
An emergency response team was to remain on standby should the vessel begin leaking fuel and an exclusion zone was set up around the location of the ship with marker buoys to stop all ships and surfers from entering the area.[18] In addition on 25 June 2007 an air exclusion zone was created around the ship.[19] Once the ship was free from the beach, the carrier would likely be towed to Brisbane for repairs.[20]
Aerial view of Newcastle showing Nobby’s Beach and coal terminals
Various attempts for refloating the ship were suggested. University of Sydney Honorary Associate Professor Rob Wheen suggested liquefying the sand under the ship by pumping seawater into it. This liquefaction should reduce the friction between grains of sand and in turn, friction between the ship and sand.[21] Whether this would have been effective in this case is unknown as the Pasha Bulker was lying on rock as well as sand and the ship would have had to be pulled up and over the rocks.

First attempt[edit source | editbeta]
Final preparations to refloat the ship began on 28 June 2007 when the ballast water, added earlier to stabilise the vessel, was pumped out to aid buoyancy. At around 5.30pm AEST the tug boats began pulling on the lines attached to the bow on the port side and the ship appeared to move for the first time.[22] An ocean swell up to 4 m (13 ft) pounded the ship and caused the bow to move back and forth even when tethered to the tug boats. Soon after the attempt started to shift the ship, one of the cables connecting the ship to the tug boat Keera snapped dashing the attempt.[23] This resulted in the decision to make another attempt after the salvage crews could regroup.[24]
Salvage efforts on the morning of 29 June 2007 were hampered by more cables snapping, this time it was cables attached to the “Supertug” Pacific Responder and a sea anchor. Ballast water was reloaded to help preserve the initial gains that were made and the next attempt to move the ship was deferred to the evening of 1 July 2007 to allow salvage engineers more time to secure new cables to the tugs and between the winches and sea anchors.[25]
Second attempt[edit source | editbeta]
The position of the Pasha Bulker on the morning after the second refloat attempt.
Three salvage tugs managed to rotate the Pasha Bulker so that it was now facing deep water and was only a few degrees short of being able to clear the reef. At its new position, the bulker was only 50 m (164 ft) from water deep enough to refloat the vessel and get it away. However, two separate oil slicks were detected in the vicinity of the Pasha Bulker, prompting concerns about a potential oil spill. The oil spill ship Shirley Smith was dispatched to assess the threat of an oil leak while the salvage operations were suspended. It was later determined that the liquid was simply lubricating oil expelled from the suspended propeller and snapped rudder; it was washed into the ocean with westerly winds.[26]
Third attempt and successful reflotation[edit source | editbeta]
The ship was successfully towed off the reef on the third attempt at approximately 9:37pm AEST on 2 July 2007. By 9:41pm it was 500 m (1,640 ft) offshore.[27] It was then held 11 nautical miles (20 km) from the Newcastle shoreline and inspected by divers for oil spills and to determine the extent of the hull damage.
Damage assessment and repairs[edit source | editbeta]
In addition to large creases that were visible on both sides of the outer hull while the ship was beached, propeller and rudder damage became evident during the operation to remove the ship from the beach. Assessment by divers while the ship was being held offshore determined that one of the ballast tanks was flooded. Minor repairs to the Pasha Bulker were conducted in Newcastle harbour before the ship was towed by the Japanese supertug Koyo Maru for major repairs in Japan.[28]
Post-reflotation events[edit source | editbeta]

After the ship was refloated, questions as to who would pay for the recovery of the ship were raised.[29] On 4 July 2007 it was announced that the Japanese owners had promised to pay for the total cost of the salvage in accordance with international conventions. The ship was towed into Newcastle harbour where minor repairs were carried out while a decision on where major repairs would be completed was made.[3][30] Salvage costs of A$1.8 million were finally paid in July 2008.[31]
The New South Wales government did not press charges against the master because negligence could not be proved “beyond reasonable doubt”. A NSW Maritime report found horrendous weather conditions combined with poor seamanship by the master of the vessel were to blame. At the height of the incident the ship’s master had left the bridge to have breakfast. The report said the master failed to realise the impact of the forecast weather in the anchorage even though wind warnings were received as early as 3 June 2007. The master also did not ballast the ship for heavy weather.[32]
Departure[edit source | editbeta]

The Pasha Bulker left the port of Newcastle on 26 July 2007. Four kilometres out to sea the Japanese salvage tug Koyo Maru connected lines to the Pasha Bulker for it to be towed back to Japan. Metal beams could be seen reinforcing the buckled hull, as these were part of the temporary repair solution affixed at Newcastle.[33]
Safety investigation[edit source | editbeta]

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau released a report into the grounding, which includes analysis of port capacity controls, bridge audio recordings, radar tracks, ships logs, weather and other ship movements at the time. It identifies several safety issues.[34]
Historic comparison[edit source | editbeta]

Nobby’s Breakwater was originally built in the first half of the 19th century to protect ships entering Newcastle Harbour.[35] After the breakwater was completed Nobby’s Beach formed against it and over the reefs around Nobby’s headland. It is on these reefs where the Pasha Bulker came to grief.
However, it is not the first ship to run aground in the area. In 1940 the TSS Maianbar, a 493-ton steamship, broke its towline while en route to Sydney and drifted ashore near where the Pasha Bulker was beached.[36] It was unable to be refloated and was dismantled on-site. The Pasha Bulker beaching has also drawn parallels to the 1974 beaching of the MV Sygna on Stockton beach, some eight kilometres further north, and the MV Cherry Venture, which was beached during a storm in 1973 on Teewah Beach near Rainbow Beach in Queensland.

SS American Star History


SS America was an ocean liner built in 1940 for the United States Lines and designed by the noted naval architect William Francis Gibbs. She carried many names in the 54 years between her construction and her 1994 wrecking, as she served as the SS America (carrying this name three different times during her career), the USS West Point, the SS Australis, the SS Italis, the SS Noga, the SS Alferdoss, and the SS American Star. She served most notably in passenger service as the SS America, and as the Greek-flagged SS Australis for Chandris. In 1941, she carried two Nazi spies from the Duquesne Spy Ring in her crew: Erwin Wilhelm Siegler and Franz Joseph Stigler. Both men were charged by the FBI with espionage and sentenced to 10 years’ and 16 years’ imprisonment, respectively. Continue reading “SS American Star History”