Bronze Rudder Wreck
This one we found with the help of John Fish
and Arnie Carr of American Underwater Search and Survey. John and
Arnie had this one marked as hang numbers, and had notes that a fisherman
had brought up a "bronze rudder" in the vicinity. Sure enough, there
was a relatively large wreck at the location, and we went in to explore.
The discovery team included Jack Ahern, Jeff Goodreau, Ryan King, Scott
Clegg and Al Boyarsky. There's no bronze rudder, or any bronze we could find for that matter - we
found the wreck to be a wooden-framed, steel hulled vessel about 225ft. in
length. The bow rises above the bottom, and the ship gradually settles
into the bottom with the stern disappearing into the muddy bottom.
The bow is relatively intact with a large square hole in the port side
and some structural damage on the starboard side. A large debris field
off the bow contains an anchor and anchor chain, a small Scotch boiler
likely from a donkey engine, and some remains of what was likely a deckhouse
including some plates, a beer bottle and a wooden pipe. Immediately
behind the bow section, which contains the hawser pipes, some anchor chain
and a large winch, the ship appears to be full of coal. No evidence of
an engine or boilers can be found, although it's possible that they're
buried. Another debris field is located near the stern, but primarily
contains wooden timbers.
This wreck will be a challenge to identify, as it does not appear to be a
typical barge but rather a powered ship yet the means of propulsion are not
readily visible. We currently have a half-dozen dives on the wreck and
will take a break before going back to search for more clues as to its
identity. Photos are shown below, and a video of the bow section is
The photo on the left shows the sharp bow near the keel. There is
approximately 3 ft. between the keel and the bottom at the bow, while the
stern fades away in the mud 225 ft. from this point.
The tubes inside the small Scotch boiler are visible in the photo on the
right. This boiler is lying in the debris field just off the bow.
One of the objects that may help to date the wreck is a bowl found by Jack
Ahern. The bottom of the bowl has the Iron Stone China logo shown on the
A better version is shown on the right. The bowl was determined to
have come from
England, likely made in the late 1800's.
Another clue is this beer bottle, also circa 1880. It's from the Roseneck
Brewing Company in Richmond, VA.