Scientists have discovered a 19th century Lake Huron shipwreck that sank in 1894

Ironlate 19th century shipwreck, located in NOAA’s Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

In 1894, a schooner barge called Iron Collision with Great Lakes cargo called Ohio in Lake Huron’s famous “Shipwreck Alley.” OhioWreck was found in 2017 by an expedition organized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Now the same team has announced that the wreckage of the 191-foot wreck has been found Iron nearly 130 years after it sank, so well preserved in the frigid waters of the Great Lakes that its three masts are still standing, its rigging still attached. Its discovery could help solve unanswered questions about the ship’s final hours.

Like schooner barges Iron which was part of a fleet that helped transport wheat, coal, corn, lumber, and iron ore across the Great Lakes region, pulled by steamers. At 12:30 a.m. on September 26, 1984, Iron and another schooner, Moonbeing hauled unladen across Lake Huron by the steamer Charles J. Kershaw when the steam engine failed. The weather was rough, and strong winds pushed the two schooners dangerously close to the disabled steamer. fear of collision, Moon‘ crew cut Ironand tow line, arrangement Iron stream.

Captain Peter Girard and his crew tried to regain control of the ship, but the wind blew them on a head-on collision course. Ohio, which was carrying 1,000 tons of grain. According to surviving crew member William Wooley’s account, it was too dark to see the Ohio until it was too late, and Iron The steamer hit its starboard bow, tearing a hole 12 feet wide Ohioand hull.

Íomhá sonar il-léas den bháirse schooner <em>Ironton</em> and is on the lake floor today.  ” src=”×414.jpg” width=”640″ height=”414″ srcset=”https://cdn.arstechnica .net/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/ironclad2.jpg 2x”/><figcaption class=
Increase / Multibeam sonar image of the schooner barge Iron sitting on the lake floor today.

Trust for Ocean Exploration/NOAA

Ohio quickly sank but its crew of 16 escaped in lifeboats and were rescued by nearby ships. Ironcrew was not so lucky. The barge was too far away, out of sight of the rescue vessels. The crew boarded a lifeboat as the schooner sank but no one remembered the line that disconnected the lifeboat, so everyone was pulled down with the ship. The survivor, William Parry, managed to make his way to the surface and grab a sailor’s bag. He noticed Wooley nearby, clinging to a box, and floated over. Eventually, a steamer that was going to rescue them rescued them, but Girard and the other four colleagues were lost.

In 2017, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary researchers teamed up with NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research to search for the 100 or so lost shipwrecks they believed sunk somewhere within the sanctuary. They used unmanned aerial systems and autonomous underwater vehicles to conduct sonar scans, among other tools. That’s how they got the wreck Ohioalong with the Choctawa 267-foot steel half-back steamer that collided with the cargo Wahcondah in dense fog and sank on July 12, 1915. Almost all rigging and deck hardware on both ships remained intact.

When the Ohio found, the team conducted further research into the weather and wind conditions on the fateful night of the double sinking to narrow the search area down to Iron. They partnered with renowned explorer Robert Ballard and the Ocean Exploration Trust to map that area in 2019. Titanicas well as the wreckage of warships Bismarck and the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, among other discoveries.) Finally, in the last days of the trip, they took a sonar image from the bottom of the lake clearly showing a shipwreck.

That sonar image did not contain enough detail to definitively identify the wreckage Iron, so the team decided to capture video of the wreck with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). That film confirmed that the Iron. The site will be marked with a deep water mooring buoy so that divers can safely visit the wreck.

“The discovery shows how we can use the past to create a better future,” said Jeff Gray, superintendent of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. “Using this cutting-edge technology, not only have we discovered amazing shipwrecks over the past century, we are learning more about one of our nation’s most important natural resources – the Great Lakes. We will continue to mapping Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and this research will lead to even more discoveries about the Great Lakes and the unique collection of shipwrecks on the lakebed.”

Image listed by NOAA/UNCW Undersea Vehicle Program

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