We originally identified the Erect Wreck as the Van due
to its location near the reported position of the Van. However, we had
always had our suspicions that the we had misidentified the wreck, and this
summer (2009) we confirmed our suspicions by finally diving the real wreck
of the Van.
The wreck is located in 300FSW approximately 3 miles
from the reported position. The upper decks have been cleared of
everything right to the level of the deck. This wreck is completely
flat on top with the exception of a low rail around the perimeter with
occasional cutouts for access to cleats. The unique openings in the
sides used for access to the holds are readily visible. The stern
section has collapsed as if broken, and the wreck gradually rises up from
stern to bow with the bow high enough off the bottom to allow a diver to
swim underneath. It's possible that the wreck sunk stern first at a
steep angle and after striking the bottom fell forward breaking the stern.
On the first dive I tied a line into the bow of the
wreck to be used for subsequent dives. I then followed the port side
of the wreck approximately half the length of the ship before crossing over
to the starboard side and returning to the bow. I saw no structures at
all on the top of the wreck, only openings where deckhouses or hardware was
originally mounted. During the tie-in I noticed the very conspicuous
rub-rail pattern along the side, and the prominent hawser on the bow.
The other divers, Jack Ahern, Al Boyarsky, Ryan King
and Jeff Goodreau reported similar characteristics, and Jack reported seeing what
appeared to be doors at periodic intervals on the sides. The only ship with
doors like this we knew of was the Van, and after studying photos of the
ship during the next week, we made a second dive to check out the specific
pattern of the rub-rails and to confirm the openings in the sides shown in
On the second dive, Jack and I both reached the stern
to see it broken approximately 3/4 of the way back. And we all
confirmed the characteristic doors along the sides of the wreck. We
feel very confident that this newly found wreck is the Van.
The Van information we have is:
Built by (for) Miami Steamship Company in DE
Originally named "Manteo"
The photo of the Van as originally named the SS Manteo
is shown directly above.