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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 also available.





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 left.  A better version is shown on the right.  The bowl was determined to have come from Meakin in 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.