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Van

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 the pictures. 

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: 1887

Length: 190

Beam: 26

710 GT

Built by (for) Miami Steamship Company in DE

Crew: 15

256 HP

Originally named "Manteo"

The photo of the Van as originally named the SS Manteo is shown directly above.

 

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