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  Alaska Shipwrecks
Involving Injuries and Casualties


Unless otherwise noted, data was extracted from Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore (1992).

Vessel Name Date Vessel Type Location of Loss    
60 bidarkas 1799 Bidarkas Hinchinbrook Entrance Boats encountered a sudden storm and 200 men were lost.  It was the worst boating disaster in history of Prince William Sound.
Alaska Chief 28 Mar 1938 Gas screw cannery tender off NE Grindall Island At 6:30 on the morning of March 28, 1938, the wooden gas screw cannery tender Alaska Chief exploded and foundered off N.E. Grindall Island with the loss of four of her five crewmen.  The following is an accounting of the tragedy from the wreck report filed at Ketchikan on April 5 by her Master and only survivor, Frank Ford:

“Left Kassan at 5:00 a.m. bound for Ketchikan.  At about 6:20 a.m. I went into the engine room of the vessel to oil up at which time all was well.  After oiling the engine I went on the afterdeck to pump bilges by hand when suddenly an explosion occurred in the engine room and the vessel immediately began to sink. Delaman was on deck and after the explosion I could not see him and he must have gone overboard.  McCue did not reach the shore and Hatch died after regaining the beach.”

Sources: 1. U S Customs Wreck Report 2. The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) pg 466.

Alaska Ranger 2008 Factory Trawler   Shortly before 3 a.m. Sunday the Coast Guard in Alaska got a chilling call from a Seattle-based fishing vessel out in the Bering Sea. "Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! ... We're flooding. Taking on water in our rudder room," said a crew member on the Alaska Ranger.

The 189-foot ship — a factory trawler that has withstood decades of tough duty in Alaska waters — was in dire trouble. Though the seas were mild, the ship eventually would go down, claiming the lives of four of the 47-member crew and leaving another missing.

Among the dead was the vessel's skipper, Eric Peter Jacobsen, of Lynnwood. The others were chief engineer Daniel Cook, mate David Silveira, and crewman Byron Carrillo, according to the Fishing Company of Alaska, owner of the ship.

Crew members donned survival suits shortly before 5 a.m. to buy time in the frigid Bering Sea, according to the Coast Guard. Some made it into life rafts while others ended up bobbing in the water.

"When we got on scene there was a spread, at least a mile long, of 13 survivors in Gumby [survival] suits with strobe lights," said Coast Guard Aviation Survival Technician 2nd Class O'Brien Hollow, who was involved in air rescues. "I went down without disconnecting from the helicopter and picked them up one at a time."

An additional 22 crew members were scooped up by the Alaska Warrior, a sister ship to the Alaska Ranger, which then headed back to Dutch Harbor with the survivors.

Other crew members remained on a second boat that was searching the area, about 120 miles west of Dutch Harbor. The bodies of the four dead crew members had been recovered and were aboard the Alaska Warrior.

Coast Guard officials said that the joint rescue was an "incredible accomplishment" that prevented more loss of life.

Few additional details of the events leading up the flooding were available. The swells were only about 6 to 8 feet at the time, although the Bering Sea is known to brew up fierce storms with waves cresting at 30 or even 40 feet.

"We do not have sufficient information to determine why the vessel foundered. We will do everything possible to find out what occurred, with the hope that something can be learned that will be of value to our fishing community," the company said.

"An honorable captain"

Jacobsen, the 66-year-old captain, would have done everything possible to get others off the ship, according to his stepson, Scott Jacobsen, 33, who lives in Bothell.

"My father has always said that a good captain always makes sure he is the last soul off the boat.

"He said if there is still a person left on the boat, he would go down with the boat trying to get that person off. He was an honorable captain and would make sure everyone was off. He had no qualms about going down with the boat and making sure everyone was evacuated."

Jacobsen said his father was a third-generation fisherman who would spend eight or nine months a year at sea. He was meticulous and a dedicated skipper who in his time ashore liked to rebuild cars and walk the family dog.

Scott Jacobsen said his father urged him to consider a career other than fishing, suggesting instead he should join the carpenters union.

"I was all set to follow in his footsteps," Scott Jacobsen said, but his dad ultimately won out, convincing him that there wasn't much money in fishing anymore.

The Alaska Ranger was heading out to catch mackerel, said Mike Szymanski, a company official. Given the time of day, most of the crew probably would have been asleep when trouble started, Szymanski said.

Jacobsen, Cook and Silveira were the top-tier leaders on the boat and thus would have been responsible for organizing the evacuation and would have been the last to flee, Szymanski said.

Fishing in Alaska has long been a perilous occupation. But in recent years, the deaths have declined, averaging about 11 a year over the past half-decade compared to more than 35 a year back in the early 1980s.

The Alaska Ranger was built in 1973. It is one of seven vessels operated by Seattle-based Fishing Company of Alaska. The firm was founded in 1985, Szymanski said, and is owned by Karena Adler, of Mercer Island.

The ship is part of the "head-and-gut" fleet that scoops up yellowfin sole, mackerel and other fish in trawl nets, then processes and freezes the catch on board.

Company officials and others in the tightly knit fishing communities both in Seattle and Alaska are mourning the loss of life.

"We can replace our boat — but we can't replace the soul, the spirit of those guys that have been working for us for all these years," said Szymanski. "Our main concern now is to take care of the surviving crew and the families that have been impacted by this."

Szymanski said there was no indication of any problems with the vessel before it left Dutch Harbor. Szymanski said Adler keeps in close contact with crews — talking with skippers at port and emphasizing safety.

"Every time one of our boats leaves, she assumes responsibility to ensure that they are going to come home," Szymanski said. "This is just tough, tough to figure out."

Trouble in the past

The Fishing Company of Alaska has had its past problems.

In 1995, a fire aboard another of its boats, the Alaska Spirit, while the ship was moored in Alaska killed the master of the vessel and caused damage estimated at $3 million. The fire prompted the National Transportation Safety Board to issue a series of safety recommendations to 250 domestic fishing and processing ships.

In 1998, the company lost another vessel, the 198-foot Alaska-1, which sank after it collided with a freighter about 34 miles north of Dutch Harbor. All 33 members of that vessel abandoned ship and were rescued without injury or loss of life.

In 2006, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration levied a fine of $254,000 against the fishing vessel, Alaska Juris, and the Fishing Company of Alaska, which managed the vessel. NOAA said the companies had interfered with fishing observers — tampering with or destroying their equipment; failing to provide them a safe work area; and failing to tell them when fish were coming aboard so they could sample the catch.

Coast Guard documents indicate that since 1992 there have been at least nine injuries reported aboard the Alaska Ranger. Records of all nine incidents were not immediately available, but four involved cut or crushed fingers and hands. In a fifth case, an employee was struck by an object while on deck hauling in a net and ended up with a fractured neck.

Source:  Seattle

Aleutian 26 May 1929 Steamer/liner South end of Amook Island, near Larson Bay in Uyak Bay, Kodiak Island Stuck a rock (now called Aleutian Rock) and sank.  Passengers and crew (115) took to lifeboats and were picked up and taken to Seward by U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey steamer Surveyor.  One crew member was lost when he insisted on returning to sinking vessel to get a lucky horseshoe.  Last port Zachar Bay; destination Uyak Bay.
Annie 1889 Schooner Alaskan waters Lost with all hands.
Bessie Reuter 1892 Schooner Alaskan waters Lost with all hands.
Big Valley  __ Jan 2005 Fishing   Office of Public Affairs U.S. Coast Guard Date: 17 Jan 2005 -

KODIAK, Alaska -- The Coast Guard is continuing their search today for three missing crewmen from the fishing vessel Big Valley, which sank Saturday morning.  

The Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center in Juneau received an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) shortly after 7 a.m. Saturday. The EPIRB was registered to the fishing vessel Big Valley, a 92-foot boat home ported in Kodiak.  

The Coast Guard cutter Sherman, Coast Guard aircraft, the Alaska State Trooper vessel Stimson and numerous Good Samaritan fishing vessels rushed to search an area 70 miles west of Saint Paul Island for the missing Big Valley crewmembers. Three crewmembers were recovered Saturday. One crewmember, Cache Seel, was transported to the hospital in Kodiak Sunday and is reportedly doing well. The other two crewmembers were pronounced deceased and arrived in Kodiak on a C-130 Sunday night.

The cutter Sherman and a Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter started searching at first light today for the missing fishermen.

C. G. White 13 Apr 1895 Schooner NW of Cape Alitak, off SW end of Kodiak Island Vessel was engaged in illegal sea otter hunting when it was struck by a gale and blinding snow storm a few miles off Cape Alitak.  This storm (called the Great Easter Gale of April 13th) caused vessel to lose its bearings and carried away the sails and rudder.  it was driven aground on a submerged reef off Cape Alitak and smashed to pieces.  Four crewmen were lost at sea including the cook who was washed overboard, drowned, and, in a bizarre twist of fate, was then washed back aboard and deposited in a cabin berth.  Many of the crew escaped to shore and survived in a snow cave.  Some died of exposure, frostbite, and starvation.

Five men marched six miles through the snow in five days to the settlement of Akhick.  They were cared for by Natives and eventually taken to Woody Island.  Others boarded the Lesnoy and sailed to Woody Island.  The other crewmen who had remained in the snow cave were discovered by the crew of the Alexandra who had hauled their vessel out and was spending the winter at Alitak Lagoon.  The Alexandra's crew re-launched the vessel and took the remaining eleven survivors of the C. G. White to Woody Island on 27 April.  Here they were attended by a doctor who had just arrived in Kodiak on the Bertha.  His grisly duties included the amputation of the fros bitten limbs of many crew members.  Those without serious injuries were taken to Sitka by the Revenue Cutter Grant and eventually went south on the mail and passenger steamer City of Topeka.  Last port Alitak Bay; destination: hunting sea otters.

“When the wreck occurred, the first to get ashore were Bail, Marillo, Sweeney and Rogers who started for assistance to the nearest settlement, a place called Okyok, thirty-seven miles away, across a lagoon.  The snow was neck high.  Bail was the only one to reach the place, the others succumbing to their injuries and the intense cold”  (N Y Times, August 6, 1895)

As many as 11 men were lost on Wednesday, April 24, 1895 when the American schooner C G White ran ashore in the Trinity Island Reefs during a westerly gale and snowstorm.  The vessel had departed San Francisco February 28 on a seal hunting and fishing trip with Zart Isaackson of San Francisco as master and a crew of 28.  The following are excerpts from the wreck report filed July 24, 1895 by managing owner A P Lorentzen:

 “On SW end of Kodiak Island…ran ashore in a snowstorm.”  “Some of the crew were saved and cared for by natives, who afterwards took them to Wooded Island, where some died and others recovered.  Some lost limbs by frost bite.  All the officers were lost, either drowned or died on the beach from cold.  No papers saved, and no other particulars received except through newspapers.”

The following is an accounting from Lewis and Dryden:

“The same gale that sent the (Walter A) Earle on her last cruise ended the career of the old Columbia River pilot schooner C G White.”  “She was caught off the Alaska shore by the gale, which was accompanied by a blinding snowstorm, with Thermometer three degrees below zero.  Her sails were carried away, the fore topmast went by the board, and her rudder became disabled.  In this helpless condition she was carried before the wind, and just before morning struck a submerged reef and was soon smashed to pieces.  A line was made fast to shore, and twenty five of the crew reached land in safety, three losing their lives before the line was secured.   Eight of those who landed perished from starvation and exposure, and several of the others were so badly frozen as to render amputation of limbs necessary.  They were finally rescued by some Indians, and taken to Kodiak.  Capt Gus Isaacson was one of the eleven who perished.”

In an article in the N Y Times from August 6, 1895: “When the wreck occurred, the first to get ashore were Bail, Marillo, Sweeney and Rogers who started for assistance to the nearest settlement, a place called Okyok, thirty-seven miles away, across a lagoon.  The snow was neck high.  Bail was the only one to reach the place, the others succumbing to their injuries and the intense cold”

Some reports have the C G White engaged in illegal sea otter hunting and lost on April 13, 1895 NW of Cape Alitak.  The storm that caused the loss is referred to as “the great Easter gale of 1895”.

Sources: 1. U S Customs Wreck Report filed at San Francisco; 2. Lewis and Dryden’s Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1961) pg 452; 3. N Y Times August 6, 1895; 4. U S Revenue Cutter Service Files (1867-1914) Roll #4; 5. Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore (1992).

Canada 19 Feb 1898 Wood bark in Lynn Canal near Haines Mission

The American wood bark Canada was lost in a heavy northeasterly gale at Skagway February 19, 1898.  Around 2:00 p.m. she broke her moorings and went adrift with $14,000 worth of lumber, some hay and grain, and four horses aboard.  Tug Coleman towed vessel to Fortune Bay near Skagway where she was beached. 

“When in danger tug from shore tried to help her, but could not.  Capt. got sails up but could not avoid going ashore.  When she went ashore Capt. fastened to tree with lines and cables and as she could not stay on account of sea breaking over her and listing badly, went back to Skagway with crew.  Was below zero and blowing hard.  She broke adrift and went down near Haines Mission ashore.  From there …Tug Coleman towed her into Skagway and she went on beach there, and is there now.”

When vessel keeled over, horses had to be shot to end their misery. 

Sources: 1. U S Customs Wreck Report of April 14, 1898; 2. The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) pg 40.

Capela 29 Dec 1909 Gas screw SE Alaska

The American gas screw Capela was lost Wednesday evening, December 29, 1909 along with two crewmen.  She was being towed by the gas screw Neptune with owner and master N Parsons at the helm.  The Neptune lost power in a heavy northerly wind and both vessels drifted onto the lee shore on northeast Vank Island in Stikine Straits.  Seaman Charles Hicks drowned at the stranding and master and owner of the Capela, H. Appeldorn died from exposure and exhaustion soon after reaching land.  The Capela was a total loss.

Source : U S Customs Wreck Report file January 18, 1910 by F E Brownson, Deputy Collector, Wrangel after an inquest held at Wrangel by U S Commissioner

Chase 07 Sep 1930 Wooden, gas screw SE Alaska (Barren Islands?) Vessel held a cargo of three tons of canned clams and coal.  Neither the Chase nor her owner, captain and sole occupant, Charles Enswiler, were ever seen again.  It was several weeks before the loss was realized.  A search of the shoreline and seas between Kodiak and Seward was unsuccessful in locating any sign of the tragedy.   It is supposed that the vessel foundered.

Source : U S Coast Guard Casualty Report filed at Seward by business associate and part owner of lost cargo Mrs. Josie Sandavik on October 29, 1931.

Chatham 31 Aug 1938 Wood schooner SE Alabka The 650 ton wood schooner Chatham caught fire while loading fertilizer at Wards Cove near Ketchikan and was virtually destroyed August 31, 1938.  Second engineer George Bennett and fireman John Morrison suffered minor burns in the blaze.  Most of the vessel’s cargo was salvaged.

Source : The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) pgs 465, 113.

Chilkat __ Jan 1837 Schooner off Cape Edgecombe Beached in storm and lost with the entire crew and cargo of furs.  Wreckage strewn along Cape and St. Lazaria Island.
City of Sitka 05 Mar 1898 2-masted shcooner off Cape Ommaney

Foundered and was lost with her crew on a voyage from Sitka to Wrangell when the casualty occurred. 

Source : The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) pg 40.

Clara Nevada 05 Feb 1898 Wood steamer reef off Eldred Rock Caught fire in gale of hurricane force blowing 90 mph.  Vessel was carrying dynamite and exploded, catching fire.  Came to rest on reef; 35 crew and 65 passengers lost.  Two men saw her burning from eight miles away. Ship sank in 6 hours; only one body recovered.  Last port: Port Townsend; destination: Skagway.

Sources : 1. Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore (1992); 2. U S Customs Wreck Report filed by H P McGuire President of P and A T Co April 25, 1898; 3. Pacific Coastal Liners (1959) pg 172.

Coaster 22 Jan 1929 Gas screw six miles W of Tenakee Springs It was Tuesday January 22, 1929 when the wooden gas screw Coaster exploded and was destroyed by fire six miles west of Tenakee Springs.  The three man crew had been unloading the 2,000 pounds of camp supplies when the casualty occurred.  The following is an accounting given by a native crewmember:

“The accident occurred whilst anchored in Tenakee Alaska.  The stern of the boat swung in to the beach and became fast.  When the tide went out about three feet of bilge water ran through to the forecastle causing oil from the bilge to float on the surface to ignite and so burned the hull to the water’s edge.  Nothing was saved but the engine which is of course spoilt owing to it being submerged at high water”

                The vessel’s master James Kasko gave the following description in the wreck report filed at Juneau February 2, 1929:

                “was unloading supplies and camp equipment.  Tide was falling and Coaster swung with Tide and grounded by stern, all bilge water ran to the bow and ignited from a stove in the forecastle.  I was in Pilot House and was blown overboard, balance of crew also blown overboard.”

Source: U S Coast Guard Report of Casualty filed at Juneau February 2, 1929.

Convention 02 Nov 1922 Gas scew fishing vessel Hecate Strait The 23 ton 45 foot gas screw fishing vessel Convention foundered in Hecate Strait November 2, 1922.  Her five crewmen were lost in the disaster.

Sources: 1. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1931) “Vessels Reported Lost” pg 939, 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1922) pg 213

Corsair 29 Oct 1912 Wood steamer Point Martin near Katalla Stranded at 2:00 a.m. October 29, 1912 carrying 14 tons of general ware cargo.  She soon caught fire and was destroyed.  Of the two aboard, only her master Peter Dahl of Katalla survived.  Engineer Albert Ness was lost.  Conditions at the time of the casualty were high seas and 70 to 80 mile an hour winds.  The Corsair was reportedly "engaged in lengthening off steam”.

Source : U S Customs Wreck Report filed December 14, 1912 by C Auer managing owner.

Courtney Ford 07 Sep 1902 3-masted barkentine at Glen Island, Izembek Bay

The 146 foot three masted wood schooner (originally a brigantine) Courtney Ford stranded and was lost at 8:15 p.m. September 7, 1902 at Glen Island.  The vessel had departed St Michael September 2nd and was bound for Port Townsend, Washington and San Francisco.  The Courtney Ford was in ballast with no cargo and had eight crew and one “workaway” on board.  Three crew were lost; 1st mate C N Sanderson (47) from Sweden, Walter Olson (22) from Denmark and Seaman C Carlson (37) from Denmark.  The following statements were taken from the wreck report filed by her captain, M E Burgeson, on October 28, 1902:

“Dark cloudy night; strong wind and squally breeze from west.” 

 “Saw breakers ahead; went to wear ship; just then vessel struck.”

The wreck is reported to have been caused by “Iron about the compass”. Other reports mention that Amak Island was mistaken for Akun Island while the crew was dead reckoning in the fog because of the faulty compass.

Source : U S Customs Wreck Report filed at San Francisco

Discovery 01 Nov 1903 Steamer between Yakutat and Cross Sound

The 209 ton wood steamer Discovery is “supposed to have been lost during the night of November 1, 1903.”  The vessel departed Yakutat November 1, 1903 with about 14 passengers and about 16 crew.  She was never heard from again.  The following are excerpts from the wreck report filed at Port Townsend, Washington by B Hasting, President of the Discovery Transportation Company who owned the Discovery:

“Supposed to be between Yakutat and Cross Sound.”   “Supposed to have foundered.  Heavy gale from ENE with southeast & southwest cross sea running. Wind 60 mi.; dark night”

“Revenue Cutter Rush was sent from Sitka after some weeks, but found no tidings.  Since then report comes of Indians finding hull of vessel.  This has not been confirmed.  Parties coming from Cape Yakataga to Kayak, in November report finding doors, windows, and broken parts of steamers house on beach, also life preservers marked Str Discovery.  This is same way the Discovery life preservers were marked.”

“We are convinced the Discovery is lost with all hands on board.  The exact time and how the accident occurred will never be known.”

According to the wreck report, along with the Discovery an estimated 30 passengers and crew were lost including J W McGrath, Charles Mokler, Ed Nord, Guy Trolford, Ed Van Dice, R Price, Christ Judson, — Shady, A Dergin, William Dangerfield, Albert R Cassell, Robert Carlson, — Hans; Joe Birry and wife, Captain Seabery and George PowellThe Discovery was valued at $24,000 at the time of the loss and was insured for $12,000.

Other reports of the fate of the Discovery claim that all but one of the passengers who had started with the vessel at Nome, had quit the trip at Unga and Kodiak claiming that the Discovery was not seaworthy.  The remaining 26 persons aboard, mostly crew, were lost with the vessel somewhere between Middleton Island and Cross Sound. One report from a claimed survivor has the vessel striking an iceberg at Cross Sound.

Source: U S Customs Wreck Report January 22, 1904,

Dora B. 15 April 1900 Schooner entrance to Lituya Bay Vessel was being towed by steamer Excelsior.  On April 15, while entering Lituya Bay, Excelsior's towline broke in heavy seas and Dora B. was never heard from again.  There were four crewmen aboard and a load of supplies bound for Lituya Bay miners.
Dove 15 Mar 1920 Cape Ommaney   The 26 ton 48 foot gas screw Dove stranded and was lost at Cape Ommaney March 15, 1920.  Two of the five persons aboard perished in the disaster.

Sources: 1. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1921) “Vessels Reported Lost” pg 454; 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1919) pg 222; 3. The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) pg 313.

Eacreet 06 Nov 1899 Schooner E side, St. Lawrence Island The 31 ton schooner Eacreet was driven ashore and left high and dry November 6, 1899 on the east side of Saint Lawrence Island. The schooner left Nome November 3, 1899 with J H Johnson at the helm and five others including owner P Lair of Snohomish, Charles Elliott, mate R A Nichol, cook J Smith and seaman James Murphy.  They were bound for San Francisco.  The wreck happened after three days of violent weather.  The following comes from the account from H W McCurdy:

“All 6 men escaped to shore, but as the schooner became hopelessly iced in and their supplies were soon exhausted, they died one by one of exposure and starvation, only Murphy surviving to tell the story of the Eacreet’s loss.  He was rescued by natives and picked up five months later by the bark Alaska.”

Source:    The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) pg52.

Eclipse 11 Aug 1807 ----- near Sanak Island The 343 ton English ship Eclipse ran into a reef and sank in three fathoms of water near Sanak Island August 11, 1807.  The 300,000 rubles worth of furs that was her cargo was salvaged.  The captain of the Eclipse, Joseph O’Cain was lost with the vessel.  Last port: Kamchatka (Whampoa, port of Canton, May 8, 1807); destination: Kodiak.
Fischer Brothers 24 Oct 1900 2-masted schooner several miles NW of Cape Rodney  The 76 foot wooden two-masted schooner Fischer Brothers was blown onto a rock and lost several miles NW of Cape Rodney at 3:00 a.m. October 24, 1900.  Weather at the time was reported to be “very heavy wind; sea extremely rough; dark night.” 

The eight crew and one passenger aboard the Fischer Brothers were assisted to the beach with a life line by several men on shore 6 or 8 hours after the wreck.  A M Flagg, master of the vessel, died ashore several days later of hardship and exposure.  There was no cargo aboard the Fischer Brothers but the vessel was a total loss worth $5,000.  The last port of the Fischer Brothers is listed as Port Clarence with a destination of Seattle.

Source: U S Customs Wreck Report filed November 2, 1900 by Archer.

General Siglin 13 Oct 1902 2-masted schooner off False Pass

The waterlogged dismasted hulk of the sealing schooner General Siglin was reported seen at 53 15 N 135 55 W by the sealing schooner Willard Ainsworth May 5, 1898.  Her bulwarks were stove in and boats missing.  She had departed San Francisco bound for Kodiak.  The Coast Guard Cutter Corwin was dispatched to the area to locate the General Siglin.  “Should either the vessel or people be found you will render all possible assistance. In addition to a valuable cargo of merchandise the vessel carries $4,000 in coin.” 

On June 14, 1897 the vessel was located by the Corwin minus her crew except the body of her mate who was found lashed to the davits and a small boy found hidden in the cabin.  The $4,000 in coin was still aboard the General Siglin.  The vessel was towed to Sitka and beached.  Eight men were lost.

Source : Alaska File of the Revenue Cutter Service 1867-1914 Roll 7.

George and Susan 10 Aug 1885 Bark between Point Belcher & Point Franklin Driven ashore and wrecked in SW gale after parting anchor chain and colliding with the Mabel.  All crew but 3 rescued by Corwin.
George, Jr. 25 Jan 1925 Gas screw between Taku Harbor and Gastineau Channel

The 27 ton wooden gas screw George Jr foundered and was lost with all hands January 25, 1925 between Taku Harbor and Gastineau Channel.  The George Jr departed Petersburg January 23 bound for Juneau with three crewman and one passenger.  She was also carrying 600 lbs of merchandise.  Lost in the disaster were the vessel’s master, Rick Bystrom, Ed Lee, John Loseth and R R Brown.  There was a heavy north wind, thick snow and heavy seas.  The George Jr was valued at $11,000 and her cargo at $1,500.

Source : U S Coast Guard Report of Casualty file by Ramstead February 9, 1925 at Juneau.

George S. Wright 27 Jan 1873 Steamer SE Alaska/ British Columbia/ Unknown

Five years after the purchase of Alaska the George S Wright became the first major shipwreck.  She departed Sitka January 20, 1873 with officers of the garrison and other passengers aboard headed for Portland.  The crew from captain to coal passers consisted of 21 souls and approximately 13 passengers were aboard.  She made stops at Tongas and Kluvok sailing for Nanaimo January 25, 1873.  It has been supposed that the vessel struck a rock somewhere near Cape Caution in the Queen Charlotte Sound about the 27th of January. Wreckage of the George S Wright was found from Queen Charlotte Sound to Prince of Wales Island. The body of the paymaster floated ashore near Cape Bazan on Dall Island.  Reports later surfaced that the survivors of the wreck had been captured and murdered by Haida Indians.  The full story is yet to be told.

Sources : 1. Marine Disasters of the Alaska Routes (1916) pg 23; 2. New York Times August 5, 1877; 3. Lewis and Dryden Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1961) pgs 204-5.

Going 07 Sep 1932 Gas screw westerly island of the Tatoosh Group

The 7 ton gas screw Going drug anchor and was driven onto the rocks at midnight September 7, 1932 on the westerly island of the Tatoosh Group.  Aboard the Going at the time of the casualty were owner and master T. F. Johnson, his Wife and Grandchild.  Mrs. Johnson was lost.  Weather at the time was reported to be a severe SE wind, rough seas and dark.  T F Johnson “tried to hold off with engine but engine stopped.”  The Going was said to be worth $1,500 with no insurance.

Source : U S Coast Guard Report of Casualty by Johnson October 14, 1932 at Ketchikan

Good Hope 11 Sep 1902 Schooner Nome Drifted ashore in storm and wrecked; 2 crewmen lost.  Last port: anchored in Nome roadstead.
Growler Mar 1868 Schooner Cape Chacon, Dixon Entrance, S. tip Prince of Wales Island

The Growler said from Victoria, B. C. on 19 Mar 1868 outfitted for sealing in the Pribilof Islands.  The vessel was lost at sea with all aboard.  Wreckage and bodies of the crew washed ashore on the south end of Prince of Wales Island.  It was reported that all survivors were slain by Haida islanders.

Haydn Brown 18 May 1912 Bark southern tip of Montague Island

The 162 foot 864 ton bark Haydn Brown was lost on the southern tip of Montague Island at 8:00 p.m. Sunday May 18, 1912.  The vessel departed Akutan May 3, 1912 bound for Seattle via Gypsum with 30 tons of coal, six crew and two stowaways.  The bark had been reduced to a barge and was being towed by the tug Pioneer.  They encountered a storm off of Cape Saint Elias and the Pioneer cut the Haydn Brown loose.  The barge drifted for two days with the tug in pursuit, piling up on the rocks at the south end of Montague May 18th.  Two crew of the barge made it to shore, one found by local natives and the other by the lighthouse tender Armeria.  Only one of those two survived; one August Palmer.  The other six aboard the barge perished including the two stowaways. The 1502 ton Armeria also went on the rocks and was lost in the rescue attempt.  Her crew of 36 plus the single survivor of the Haydn Brown were rescued by the steamship Admiral Sampson.  Lost with the Haydn Brown were master A Peterson of Oakland California, S Martin, C Westerlund, Chris Jensen, Kowahara and the two stowaways, names unknown.

Sources : 1. U S Customs Wreck Report filed May 23, 1912 at Puget Sound by James Griffith and Sons Managing Owners, 2. The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) pg 211.

Helen 24  Jan 1913 Launch Galena Bay Loose line fouled prop in rough weather.  Two lost.
Helen Blum 1893 Schooner between Chirikof and Kodiak Islands

The 66 ton Schooner Helen Blum was lost with all hands in 1893 between Chirikof and Kodiak Islands.  The following is an excerpt from the Victoria Daily Colonist July 18, 1893:

“The steamer Queen, which arrived down from Alaska with a large excursion party, last evening, brings word that quantities of wreckage picked up to the westward of the Alaska Peninsula have been positively identified as belonging to the San Francisco schooner Helen Blum and that vessel, carrying twenty six of a crew, has now been given up as lost with all hands aboard.”

Sources : 1. Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore (1992), 2. The Victoria Daily Colonist July 18, 1893.

Ida Watts __ Dec 1908 2-masted schooner at Sand Point, Shumagin Islands Vessel wrecked; 1 crewman lost .
Islander 15 Aug 1901 2-masted schooner Green Cove, on the N end of Admiralty Island On August 14th, 1901 the Islander, in command of Captain H. R. Foote, departed Skagway for Victoria, British Columbia, filled to capacity with 181 passengers, including 61 crew members and three stowaways trying to get free passage to the "Outside." In addition, Islander was carrying a cargo of gold bullion. Though the ship's owners claimed only $250,000, just how much gold the Islander actually carried seems never to have been properly recorded.

Sometime after 2:00 am on August 15th, while sailing down the narrow Lynn Canal south of Juneau, she struck what was reported to be an iceberg that stove a large hole in her forward port quarter. Attempts to steer the foundering vessel ashore on nearby Douglas Island were in vain; within five minutes, the tremendous weight of the water filling the ship's forward compartments had forced her bow underwater and her stern, rudder and propellers completely out of the water.

Passengers stuck in their cabins because their doors had become jammed shut on impact were freed by stewards with axes. Passengers with gold aboard besieged the purser’s office to claim their loot. Panic prevailed on deck where some lifeboats had been lowered partially full and others got hung up. One lifeboat was reported to leave the ship with only 20 percent of its designed capacity. Many people drowned though a good number made it to Douglas Island. The steamers Flosie and Lucy rescued survivors and recovered some of the dead. Later, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Rush and smaller patrol vessels combed over 70 miles of shoreline. Considerable debris was found. Numerous trunks and suitcases were found on beaches. Most of the bodies were said to be accounted for.

Aboard the Islander were 181 persons, including 61 crew members and three stowaways trying to get free passage to the "Outside." Forty-two of those people lost their lives when the ship slipped into the water.

Sources: 1.Merchant Vessels of the U S (1957) pg 245; 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1958) “Vessels Reported Lost” pg 778.

James Allen 11 May 1894 Whaling bark E end of Amlia Island The 117 foot 330 ton whaling bark James Allen struck a rock at the east end of Amlia Island at 1:30 a. m. May 11, 1894 and was lost with 25 souls.  She had sailed out of San Francisco April 14, 1894 bound for whaling in the Arctic Ocean with 49 crew and 9 passengers aboard.  The vessel was carrying about 250 tons of cargo and stores worth $30,000.  The following are excerpts from the wreck report filed by Captain Arthur Huntley, master of the James Allen:

“Wind about 30 miles per hour, thick weather, dark.”  “Ship some 30 miles to the west of supposed position.”  “Sunken rock east end Amlia Island, Seguam Pass (One of the Aleutian Islands Lat 52N Lon 174) Hole in ships bottom caused by striking rock.”  “Striking three times; Nothing was seen of the rock.  Ship close hauled on the wind, heading to the NE.”  “At the time of this statement 15 men are unaccounted for. (Later report states 25 lost)”  “to myself and 16 men Capt. M Healy, U S S Bear rescued and provided for. Str. Dora rescued 8 others.” 

The James Allen, worth $10,000 and her cargo were listed as total losses.  The vessel had $15,000 worth of insurance.

Source: U S Customs Wreck Report filed by Huntley June 28, 1894.

Japan 10 Jul 1907 Barge off Bold Island in Revillagigedo Channel

The British barge Japan was totally destroyed by an explosion of dynamite aboard July 10, 1907.  The entire crew of the Japan were killed along with one crewman (Ernest Strand) from the vessel Marion, which was towing the Japan.  Last port: Ketchikan; destination: Nobles, British Columbia. 

Sources : 1. Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore (1992), 2. Alaska Packers Association Records Microfilm 1982

Jean 15 Sep 1937 Gas screw Six Mile Point in Blake Channel

The 8 ton gas screw fishing vessel Jean was destroyed by an explosion and fire at 5:30 p.m. September 15, 1937 at Six Mile Point in Blake Channel.  The crew of two survived and were treated for burns after being picked up by vessel 31B470.  According to the report of casualty filed by Virgil Hulse, a member of the crew; the bottom of the gas tank fell out causing the explosion and fire.  Hulse and master Warren Powers of Wrangell had left that day for a fishing trip with an expected return to Wrangell.  The Jean was valued at $2,500 and had no insurance. 

Source : U S Coast Guard Report of Casualty filed at Wrangell November 13, 1937.

Jessie 28 Jun 1898 Small freight steamer mouth of Kuskokwim River Swamped in turbulent water at mouth of river.  Eighteen miners from the Columbia Exploration Company believed to have been massacred by Indians or lost with wreck.  One person, a trader called Ling, survived to bring word of the wreck to St. Michael.  Jessie was towing the barge Minerva and a second unknown barge which was also lost.  Indians looted the vessels.  Last port: Seattle 31 May 1898; destination: Kuskokwim River.
John F. Miller 08 Jan 1908 2-masted schooner East Anchor Cove, Unimak Island Wrecked when anchor chains parted in gale while attempting to salvage the schooner Glen, lost in 1907.  Ten lives lost.  Last port: San Francisco 23 Nov 1907; destination: Bear Harbor.
John P. Gaines 24 Nov 1943 Steamer ----- The 7,176 ton 422 foot steam powered Liberty Ship John P Gaines broke in two and foundered November 24, 1943. Ten lives were lost in the disaster.

Sources: 1. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1945) “Vessels Reported Lost” pg 776, 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1944) pg 46.

John Straub 19 Apr 1944 Steamer off Sanak Island The 7,176 ton 422 foot steam powered Liberty Ship John Straub struck a mine off Sanak Island, broke in two and sank April 19, 1944.  55 perished in the disaster.

Sources: 1. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1945) “Vessels Reported Lost” pg 776, 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1944) pg 45.

Joseph Russ 21 Apr 1912 3-masted schooner NE coast of Chirikof Island Struck rocks due to strong currents, tides, and possible compass deviation.  Was totally demolished; 1 lost, 35 made it to shore.  Second mate and 5 crew rowed to Chignik in 11 days and summoned steamer Dora to rescue.  Last port Seattle, 7 April 1912; destination Lost Harbor and Bering Sea.
Karluk Aug 1913 Brigantine near Herschel Island The Stefannson Arctic Expedition brigantine Karluk was trapped in the ice in August of 1913 while travelling to Herschel Island in the Arctic.  She drifted in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and eventually was crushed by the ice and sank.  The crew and expedition staff survived on the ice and made their way to Wrangell Island months later.  Eleven men perished before they were finally rescued by the vessel King & Winge in September of 1914.

Sources: 1. The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) pgs 242, 247' 2. Wikipedia “Voyage of the Karluk”; 3. New York Times (June 1, 1914) “Bartlett’s Story of the Karluk.”

Kennecott 08 Oct 1923 Steel motor ship Hunters Point, Graham Island, BC The 3620 ton steel motor ship Kennecott stranded and was lost at Hunters Point, Graham Island, BC at 11:55 p.m. Monday October 8, 1923. The vessel departed Cordova October 3, 1923 bound for Seattle with 31 crewmen aboard.  Her cargo; 6000 tons of copper ore concentrates and 40,000 cases of salmon, was worth a million dollars.  Captain John A (Laughing Jack) Johnson of Seattle claimed that “dirty weather prevented taking sight of sun to ascertain…position.” 

The USCG cutter Unalga, USCGS steamer Surveyer, and steamer Cordova all responded to the wreck site and took the crew aboard.  It was determined that nothing more could be done.  Soon after the British salvage steamer Algerine was dispatched from Victoria, BC to the wreck but ran ashore and returned to port in distress herself.  Many of the Kennecott’s crew were taken to Ketchikan and then on to Seattle aboard the SS Alameda.  A group of 8 men including Captain Johnson were left on the beach to guard the wreck site.  They were picked up by the salvage tug Hercules and transported home via Vancouver. 

Captain Johnson disappeared the night of October 21, 1923 on his way back to Victoria aboard the Algerine.  The Kennecott was his second shipwreck as captain; the first being the sinking of the Ohio in 1909 in Finlayson Channel, BC.  That wreck cost his purser, quartermaster, wireless operator and one soldier their lives.   As the Algerine approached the earlier shipwreck site, it is said that “Laughing Jack” Johnson lept overboard to his death.  The Kennecott is reported to have broken up quickly with two main parts of the hull drifting away and sinking.

Sources: 1. U S C G Report of Casualty October 31, 1923 by Supt. AK Steamship Co; 2. Alaska Steam (1984) pg 73.

Killarney 21 Dec 1918 Gas screw Frederick Sound The 13 ton wooden gas screw Killarney left Petersburg December 21, 1918 with three souls aboard bound for Thomas Bay and was never seen again.  Lost when the Killarney disappeared, were owner and master H Van Vlack of Olympia and crewmen Robert Dorsey and E Sakagami.  The following are excerpts from the casualty report filed by George Van Vlack, Administrator of the Estate for H Van Vlack:

“Vessel left Petersburg at 3 p.m. December 21st for our cannery at Thomas Bay.  Searchers found anchor buoyed with empty can crates on Thomas Bay Bar off Wood Point. One box apples and hatch cover found near Faragut Bay. Believed vessel struck ice or rock off Wood Point and was disabled and forced to anchor. Heavy sea on bar prevented landing and that they left anchorage as last resort hoping to drift across to Vanderput Pt. but foundered in Frederick Sound. Bodies unrecovered.”  “strong S.E. wind/ believed vessel anchored about 5 p.m.  Wind increased to gale during night.”

The Killarney was valued at $4,000 at the time of the disaster and had no insurance.  She had a cargo of approximately 5 tons of salt, coal, cans and groceries valued at $500 also uninsured.

Source: U S Coast Guard Report of Casualty filed February 10, 1919 at Seattle.

Lake Bay 05 Jun 1922 Gas screw south side of the mouth of Necker Bay Vessel lay at anchor and everyone had gone ashore except a small boy.  The ship went adrift and the wind and tide carried it onto rocks from which it later slipped and sank in deep water.  One last trying to swim out to drifting vessel; two in total died in this incident.  Last port Sitka 17 April 1923; destination: whaling grounds off Biorka Island.
Lena 6/7 Dec 1912 Launch between Galena Bay & Jack Bay, off Grassy Island Lost.  Two crewmen lost and captain rescued.
Limit 28/29 Sep 1937 Seiner vicinity of Larch Bay on the SW side of Baranof Island

The 50 ton wooden purse seiner Limit disappeared with all hands during the night of September 28-29, 1937.  The following is a statement from the casualty report filed by the owners:

“The Diesel boat Limit with a crew of eight men aboard, disappeared during the night of September 28-29, 1937.  They had been fishing in vicinity of Larch Bay, on the southwesterly side of Baranof Island.  Late in the evening of September 28 they presumably started back toward the Company’s fishing reduction plant at Washington Bay.  So far as any definite information goes, they were never seen again.  A strong, northerly wind was blowing in Chatham Strait and the Limit undoubtedly met this after rounding Cape Ommaney.”

“Careful and persistent search has revealed nothing, except some floating articles such as three hatch covers, side light and screens, identified as belonging to the Limit.  The inevitable conclusion is that the boat sank with all hands so suddenly that the crew did not even have time to cut loose or untie the skiff they carried on the stern.”

Lost in the disaster were Olaf Storfold, Gust Edwardsen, Carl H Carlson, S Birkeland, Ole Saterhaug, John Hansen, Oscar Torheim and Chris Solheim.  The Limit was valued at $9,000 and had an unknown amount of freshly caught herring aboard.

Source : U S C G Casualty Report filed by John W Storfold, President, Storfold & Grondahl Packing on October 14, 1937 in Seattle.

Lincoln 1898 2-masted schooner at sea Lost with all hands.  Last port: Seattle 7 Mar 1896; destination: Cook Inlet
Louise 1-4 Nov 1910 Gas-powered schooner 1 mile NE of Cape Prince of Wales Crushed by ice and lost with all hands.  Last port Anadir, Siberia 1 Nov 1910.
Margaret 06 Jul 1921 Gas screw docks at Katalla

An explosion and fire destroyed the 55 ton gas screw Margaret at the oil dock at Katalla at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday July 6, 1921.  The three crewmen aboard all suffered burns but survived the disaster.  The Margaret was being filled with “distillate oil” at the time, having loaded seven tons or $500 worth.  The crew had loaded oil many times before and could find to cause for the explosion.  About a dozen company men helped fight the blaze, but the Margaret became a total loss.  She was valued at $42,385 and had $25,000 worth of insurance.

Source : U S Coast Guard Report of Casualty August 22, 1921 by Durkee at Juneau.

Marina 04 Feb 1903 Wooden sloop Fisheries Point The 5 ton 30 foot wooden sloop Marina struck a rock and was lost at 7:00 p.m. February 4, 1903.  Owner of the Marina, James Gordon and five passengers had departed Killisnoo and were bound for Hoonah when the disaster occurred.  They were loaded with $250 worth of camp supplies and potatoes.  The following are excerpts from the wreck report:

“Wind strong, dark.”  “Stranded on a reef.”  “Probably Fisheries Point. (Chatham Strait) Alaska.”  “The vessel struck a rock; all goods were moved ashore.  Men went on board to wait for tide to rise.  Only one was seen again who spoke only a few words and died.”

Lost were owner James Gordon, Grant Kadotk and Jim Teenduo.  The wreck report was signed by William M Carle, Minister of Gospel.

Source: U S Customs Wreck Report March 6, 1903 at Juneau.

Marmot 12 Aug 1931 Fishing vessel 10 E of Two-Headed Island

A fire of unknown origin destroyed the 44 ton wooden fishing vessel Marmot at 9:00 p.m. Wednesday August 12, 1931.  The vessel with her crew of 7 was fishing for halibut 10 miles east of Two Headed Island near Kodiak Island when the tragedy occurred.  The following are statements taken from the casualty report filed by master and half owner Arne Larson of Ketchik

“Brisk westerly wind, dark, cloudy.”  “Fire”  “On discovery of fire, engineer went into engine room and discharged 2 ½ gallon “Foamite” extinguisher, but was driven back by smoke and flames.”  “After engineer was driven from engine room, all doors, companionways and ventilators were closed and sealed in the hope that the flames would be smothered.  Two dories were launched and stood by until flames burst thru the deck.  As vessel was apparently doomed, crew in the two dories started for land.  Harry Venema had been ailing for some time before the fire but had stated that it was not necessary to see a doctor.  Apparently the stress of the fire and the exposure to the dory was too much for him.  He died in the dory on the morning of August 13th, 1931.”

Source : USCG Report of Casualty August 17, 1931 at Seward.

Mary H. Thomas 1894 Schooner Bering Sea Lost with all hands.  Last port: San Francisco?; destination: North Pacific whaling.
Matinee 1898 Schooner in the Aleutians Lost with all hands.
Mermaid 24 Jan 1913 Launch Valdez Narrows One man lost, one rescued.
Merom 06 Oct 1900 Wood bark Karluk Harbor, Kodiak Island

The 1,158 ton 179 foot wooden bark Merom stranded and was lost in the Karluk Harbor at 3 p.m. Saturday October 6, 1900.  The vessel departed San Francisco August 29, 1900 bound for Karluk with 16 crewmen.  One crewman, 34 year old William Booke from Germany, was lost in the stranding.  The Merom had 500 tons of cargo including 12,574 cases of canned salmon worth $50,000 on board at the time of the disaster.  The Merom, valued at $14,000, and her cargo were listed as total losses.  The vessel was owned by Alaska Packers Association of San Francisco and had no insurance.  A Peterson, master of the Merom, attributed the losses to a “severe storm.”  Conditions at the time were listed as a strong gale, clear weather and high seas.

Note : This may be the same master A Peterson of Oakland that is lost with the bark Haydn Brown in 1912 on Montague Island.

Last port San Francisco, 29 August 1900; destination Karluk.

Source : U S Customs Wreck Report November 7, 1900 by Peterson in San Francisco.


Midas 1898 Bark North Pacific British vessel lost with all hands.  Last port: Nagasaki, Japan.
Minerva       The barge Minerva was lost at the mouth of the Kuskokwim River June 28, 1898.  She had departed Seattle May 31, 1898 being towed by the steamer Jessie along with a second unnamed steel barge.  There three vessels were lost in the turbulent waters outside the Kuskokwim River.   Also lost were the crews and miners from the Columbia Exploration Company that were aboard; a total of 18 souls.  One person, a trader called Ling, lived to tell the tale.  He brought word of the wreck to Saint Michael.  Many believed the surviving miners and crew were massacred by Indians who looted the wrecks.

Sources: 1. The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) pg 42; 2. Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore (1992).

Monongahela 1853 Whaling ship near the Aleutian Islands Lost with all hands.  Last port was New Bedford, MA 1 October 1850.

The 497 ton whaling ship Monongahela was lost with all hands some time in 1853 in the Aleutian Islands.  The Monongahela had sailed out of New Bedford MA October 1, 1850 on a whaling voyage with Captain Jason Seabury at the helm.  She was valued at $35,000 with cargo at the time of the disaster.  The following are excerpts from the January 1855 Sailer’s Magazine:

“Would that I could make as favorable report respecting the whale ship Monongahala, Capt. Seabury.  This vessel was missing last year.  No definite information could be obtained respecting her fate.  Although it was supposed she was lost, about the time that she attempted to leave the Arctic Ocean.  She was seen during a severe gale, but subsequently nothing was heard from her, until as report says, a cask of her sails and some of her spars have been picked up at sea…Capt. Percival reports that…About 100 miles south of Seguam, one of the chain of Fox Islands, fell in with two casks of oil.  One of which he secured.  It was a ground or second tier cask, bunged off, and had evidently come out of some ship, and not washed overboard.  The head was marked with marking-irons S.C. and with white paint iron hoops.  It had kelp grown on it and had apparently been in the water a long time.  Also quite a number of pieces of ship’s plank floating abut that bore every appearance of a wrecked vessel, from the manner in which they had broken off.  It is Capt. P.’s opinion that they belonged to the Monongahela, the missing ship.  He says there was a current report among the ships, from a French whaler, that last season, when beating out the 72nd passage in a gale of wind, he saw a ship off the lee quarter, which he knew to be the Monongahela; that with great difficulty he fetched by, and he thought the ship astern must have gone on.  In addition to the above evidence that the Monongahela was lost, as supposed, on one of the Fox Islands, it is known that the Pocahontas picked up a cask of sails, marked Monongahela, and Capt. Jaggar, of the Emerald, now in port, picked up a cask of flags, supposed to belong to the same ship.  Both these casks were picked up in the vicinity of the island on which the Monongahela is supposed to have been wrecked.  Ed. Polynesian…There is a strong presumption that all on board must have perished.  It is sad to reflect upon the probable fact that a whale-ship’s company of thirty and more souls, all gone down together, and not one surviving to tell the tale of sorrow.”

An interesting point to note is the tale that is attached to the Monongahela, although not related to her disappearance.  The first of it was published in newspapers in New York and London in March of 1852.   January 18, 1852 the Monongahela is reported to have encountered a “sea serpent” more than 100 feet long while becalmed near the equator.  The crew managed to kill and behead the monster.  The head was said to be 10 feet long and contain 94 curved teeth.  Captain Seabury of the Monongahela had the head stowed aboard in a pine box.  He wrote a detailed report of the incident and sent it ahead to New Bedford with another whaling vessel that was loaded with whale oil and bone and ready to return to port.  The Monongahela then continued on to whaling in the Arctic.  She never made port, and none of her crew survived.  The story of the sea serpent survives to this day as a possible hoax or unexplained mystery.

Sources: 1. Marine Disasters of the Alaska Route (January 1916) pg 31, 2. Sailor’s Magazine and Naval Journal Volume 27 No 5 (January 1855) pg 133.

Napoleon III 20 May 1858 ----- near St. Paul Island

The 707 ton French ship Napoleon III was stove in by ice and lost near Saint Paul Island May 20, 1858.  16 souls perished with the Napoleon III.  She was on a whaling voyage out of LaHavre, France and had a cargo of whale oil and bone when the disaster occurred.

Navarch 12 Aug 1897 Steam whaling bark in the Aleutians off Blossom Shoals, drifted  in ice to near Point Barrow Caught in drift ice and abandoned by crew.  Sixteen die in march over the ice to shore.  Half of crew rescued by cutter Bear and the steamer Thrasher.  In 1898 was drifting in ice near Point Barrow until se on fire by salvers in January. Left last port San Francisco 2 March 1897 for whaling in Arctic.
Neva 09 Jan 1813 ----- Neva Bay, Kruzef Island, near Cape Edgecumbe Struck a rock and wrecked; 49 died in raging surf and 25 survived.  Survivors reached Sitka in a Kolosh canoe.  A Ketchikan newspaper reported in 1915 that a Captain J. E. Sayles, local marine man, was outfitting an expedition to go to Kruzof Island to strip the wreck of the Neva.  Associated with him in the salvage effort was C. F. Stager, a deep sea diver.  The Neva was reported to have carried a number of bronze guns, and a cargo of gold church vestments.  Capt. Sayles was said to have received permission from the Russian government to make the salvage effort.  Last port was Okhotsk, USSR late Aug. 1812
Nevada 27 Sep 1932 Steel-hulled steamer on Amatignak Island Rocks, Aleutians Crushed to destruction on he rocks.  Only 3 of 37 crewmen survived and reached Amatignak Island.  Small boat from President Madison rescued the 3 on short.  Last port Longview, WA headed for Yokohama, Japan.
New Jersey Oct 1914  --- between Sinuk and Pt. Hope Lost with all hands.
Nora 12 Oct 1913 Gas screw a few miles N of Nome Foundered in gale while towing the schooner Princess.  Found bottom up on beach at Nome.  All hands lost.  Last port: St. Michael, 9 Oct 1913; destination: Kuskowim River
Nugget 14 Feb 1909 Sloop Cape Fairweather

On 9 Feb. vessel ran into heavy seas and storm off Cross Sound and was blown out to sea.  It weathered this storm only to be struck by another on Feb. 14 that blew most of the sails and rigging away.  The steamer Northwestern sighted the Nugget's flare on Feb. 14 and took seven aboard in a daring rescue in heavy seas.  One crewman was crushed between vessels during the rescue.  The Northwestern arrived in Juneau on Feb. 15.  Last port Lituya Bay, 8 Feb. 1900; destination Juneau.

Onieda 26 Apr 1890 ----- near Sanak

The 1,074 ton 179 foot wooden ship Onieda stranded and was lost near Sanak at 9:00 p.m. Saturday April 26, 1890.  77 Chinamen perished in the disaster.  The vessel departed San Francisco with 28 crewmen and 127 passengers bound for Thin Point.  The following are excerpts from the wreck report filed by F P Anderson, master of the Onieda:

“Light wind, foggy, rough sea, dark and foggy”  “Uncertain currents, foggy weather”  “Hamings Rock 10 miles SW of Sanak Alaska”  “Stranding”  “No sail set, vessel hove to, waiting fair weather”  “Total loss”

The vessel was carrying 550 tons of merchandise and provisions worth $50,000.  The Onieda, valued at $15,000 and her cargo were total losses.  The vessel was insured for $42,000 and her cargo for $15,000.

Source: U S Customs Wreck Report June 3, 1890 at San Francisco.

Otter __ Sep 1888 Schooner North Pacific The 74 ton 81 foot schooner Otter was lost with all hands in the North Pacific in March of 1889.  The Otter Departed San Francisco March 2, 1889 bound for the Shumagin Islands with 23 crewmen aboard and never was heard from again.  Two other vessels, the schooner James A Hamilton and the schooner Annie also disappeared on the same route at the same time.  Lost from the Otter were Captain – G W Littlejohn, First Mate – Joseph Wilson, Boatswain – Charles Swanson, Hunters – John P Sidwell, W C Peterson, Ernest Fisher and Herman Rode, Seamen – Joseph Richards, William Neven, W Eitel, Henry Edwards, Frank Sawyer, Frank Mulhi, John Johnson, F G Sutton, John Herman, Heinriech Kellinen, John Brown, Martin Anderson, Hans Knudtsen and J E Burnett, Cabinboy – C L Wolf, and Cook Gotlieb Elsen.  The Otter was valued at $10,000 at the time of the disaster.

Sources : 1. Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore (1992); 2. Daily Alta California July 25, 1889; Probable Loss of Three Schooners Which Left Last March, pg 2 Col 1; 3. Merchant Sailing Vessels of the United States (1888) pg 210

Ounimak 30 Mar 1887 Schooner between Belkofsky & Pauloff Harbor Capsized in heavy gale and six lives lost.  Found bottom up off Pauloff Harbor.  Last port: Belkofsky, 30 Mar 1887; destination: Pauloff Harbor, Sanak Island
Phoenix 21-24 May 1799 3-masted, 2-decked frigate wreckage washed ashore on Shuyak Island and later on Tugidak & Sitkinak Islands Vessel lost with all hands (90), including shipbuilder Lt. James Shields, in a storm SE of Kodiak.  Wreck caused dire hardship in Russian colonies due to loss of badly needed supplies.  Head of the Kodiak Mission, Archmandrite Joseph, also perished.  Last port Okhotsk; destination Kodiak.
Pioneer 19 Dec 1927 Gas screw Strawberry Bar?, near Cape Hinchinbrook Stranded in heavy snowstorm and darkness.  Crew lost.  Last port Katalla, 19 Dec, 1927; destination Cordova.
Princess 12 Oct 1913 Schooner a few miles N. of Nome The Princess was in tow by the gasoline boat Nora when both vessels foundered in a southerly gale and were blown across Norton Sound.  Both vessels discovered bottom up on the beach near Nome.  There were no survivors.  Last port: St. Michael 9 Oct. 1913; destination: Kuskowim River.
Princess Sophia 25 Oct 1918 Passenger liner Vanderbilt Reef, NW of Juneau Princess Sophia was lost during a violent storm on Vanderbilt Reef.  353 passengers and crew, including many of the Yukon’s leading citizens, were headed south from Skagway for the winter.   Initially stranded on the rocks, conditions over Lynn Canal were too rough for rescue vessels to approach, or for the ship to launch her own lifeboats.  Suddenly she began to slide into deep water, taking all on board with her.  The wreck now rests in the depths on a slope in 80-150 feet of water. 
Prosper 12 Sep 1900 Schooner mouth of Penny River, near Nome Went ashore in gale and broke up in breakers.  One crewman lost and vessel a total loss.  Cargo salvaged.  Last port San Francisco, 20 June 1900; destination Nome & Cape Blossom
R. Eacrett 06 Nov 1899 Schooner St. Lawrence Island

The 32 ton 50 foot two-masted wooden schooner R Eacrett stranded and was lost on Saint Lawrence Island at 8:00 p.m. November 6, 1899.  There was only one survivor from the crew of six.  Lost were owner Augustus Lear, Captain Johnson, mate Charles Elliott and crewmen Smith and Nichal.  The sole survivor was crewman James Murphy. 

The vessel departed Nome November 3rd bound for San Francisco to pick up mining supplies.  The return trip was scheduled for the following spring.  The vessel stranded attempting to weather the eastern end of Saint Lawrence Island, 20 miles east of Nukuliak.  The driving snow and howling winds didn’t allow James Murphy, who was at the helm, to hear the breakers nearby.  The R Eacrett was driven high on the beach.  Five of the crew died in the cold winter weather over the next six months. 

A rescue vessel arrived June 1, 1900.  James Murphy, the only survivor, took passage to Nome on the rescue vessel, the bark Alaska.  The Alaska was lost less than a week later on her arrival at Nome, June 6, 1900.  Fortunately, Murphy and the rest of the 71 passengers and crew made it to safety.

Sources: 1. Introduction of Domestic Reindeer Into Alaska (1900) “Concerning the Wreck of the Eacrett” pgs 109-114, 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1897) pg 159.

Royal Charlie 1866  ---- Kuiv (Kake?) Village, Admiralty Island Vessel was seized and scuttled by Natives.  Crew murdered.
Saint Alexander (Aleksandr) 1799 Cargo between Alaska and Siberia Heading to Okhotsk, Russia the ship wrecked with no survivors. 
Sea Breeze 25 Aug 1920 Gas screw fishing vessel Sumner Strait

The 8 ton 35 foot gas screw fishing vessel Sea Breeze was destroyed by fire in Sumner Strait August 25, 1920.  Two of her three crewmen died in the disaster.  Lost were W R Woodworth, master of the Sea Breeze, and crewman J Close.  The vessel had departed Ketchikan bound for west coast canneries.  They had reached “Yasha Island, Sumner Strait” when the vessel caught fire. The Sea Breeze was valued at $1,500 and was a complete loss with no insurance.

Sources: 1. U S C G Report of Casualty June 28, 1921 at Ketchikan by Volie, 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1920) pg 321.

Sea Lion 1895 Schooner North Pacific Canadian vessel lost with all hands.
Sea Ranger 26 May 1893 Wooden whaling bark 2 miles W of Kayak Island Vessel stranded on unmarked rock and knocked to pieces in heavy sea after vessel ran into shore to bury body of James McKee who had died at sea.  The Captain had been in the Crow's nest and had failed to see reef on the N side of the island.  Crew took to the lifeboat and reached the Alaska Commercial Company station on Little Kayak Island.  The mail steamer Crescent City took crew to Sitka and the City of Topeka eventually took them to Port Townsend.  Unmarked rock now named Sea Ranger Reef after vessel.  Last port: San Francisco,, 22 March 1893; destination: Kodiak, Bristol Bay, and Arctic Ocean.
Servernyl Orel (Northern Eagle) 1799 Schooner enroute to Prince William Sound (Montague Island?) Vessel blown on rocks causing loss of six lives and over 22,000 rubles worth of furs.  Last port was Yakutat; destination Kodiak via Prince William Sound
Servia 6 Nov 1907    

The 1,866 ton 234 foot wooden bark Servia was blown onto the beach at Karluk and destroyed at 2 p.m. November 6, 1907.  The vessel departed San Francisco August 23, 1907 bound for Karluk with 20 officers and crew aboard.  The vessel was anchored off of Karluk taking on the last of the year’s salmon canning production.  Her cargo at the time of the disaster was 1,450 tons of cases of canned salmon worth $170,000.  A strong northeasterly gale broke the two anchor chains of the Servia and forced her onto the shore at Julia Foard Point.  The vessel began breaking up immediately.  Some of the crew was taken aboard Alaska Packers Association cannery tenders and some swam for their lives.  17 of the crew survived.  Lost were Gust Headland (35) of Sweden, Louis Huron (27) and Olof Fenning (30).  The Servia had a value of $35,000 and was a total loss along with her cargo of canned salmon.  The vessel was insured for $3,000 and her cargo for $160,000.

Sources: 1. U S Customs Wreck Report at San Francisco; 2. Salmon From Kodiak (1986) pg 203; 3. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1907) pg 134.

Seventy Six 11 Dec 1895 Trading schooner off Kodiak Lost at sea with seven lives lost.  Last port Woody Island; destination Kayak Island on trading cruise
Sitka 30 Mar 1898 2-masted schooner off Cape Ommaney

The 17 ton two masted fur sealing trading schooner Sitka was lost off of Cape Ommaney March 30, 1898.  Her three crewmen perished with the vessel.  The Sitka was last seen in Redfish Bay.  She departed out of Sitka and was bound for Ft Wrangell.  Her masts were picked up by the schooner Northern Star.  The Sitka had a value of $800.

Sources: 1. Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore (1992); 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1897) pg 176.


Stanley 28 Mar 1910 3-masted schooner entrance to Pauloff Harbor, Sanak Island Went ashore in gale.  Four lives lost.  Last port: San Francisco 17 Oct 1909; destination: Pauloff Harbor
Star of Bengal 20 Sep 1908 Iron-hulled bark North of Helm Point, Coronation Cut loose from tow by tugs Hattie Gage and Kayak in wind and storm.  Vessel driven aground on S. shore of Coronation Island where hull was broken in half on rocks.  Most of crew and passengers (112) crushed while swimming ashore in boiling surf full of 50,000 cases of salmon and empty barrels.  Of the 137 onboard, 2 Chinese, 7 Japanese, 3 Filipinos, and 21 whites survived and were rescued by the Kayak.
State of California 17 Aug 1913 Iron passenger steamer in Gambier Bay, Admiralty Island Hit uncharted reef in bay after unloading cargo at Gambier Bay Cannery.  Sank in 4 minutes in 240 feet of water.  32 of the 150 aboard lost their lives.  Last port Gambier Bay; destination Juneau.
Sultan __ Jan 2005 Fishing vessel 150 miles NW of St. Paul Office of Public Affairs U.S. Coast Guard Date: 17 Jan 2005 - Saturday a crewmember fell overboard from the fishing vessel Sultan 150 miles northwest of Saint Paul.  That crewmember fell overboard at approximately 11 a.m. reportedly wearing only a sweat suit and rain gear.  The Coast Guard, Alaska State Troopers and Good Samaritans searched for the crewman without locating him.  The Coast Guard suspended actively searching for the man at 9 p.m. Sunday.
SV Kapiton 06 Sep 1758 ----- near Kiska Islands The small Russian ship Sv Kapiton was driven onto a rocky reef near the Kiska Islands and lost September 6, 1758.  The vessel was travelling out of Bering Island in the Commander Islands of Russia.  The crew made it to shore but 17 men died while on the Island.  The survivors were rescued in 1761 by the Sv Petr I Pavel.
Swiftsure 5/6 Oct 1921 Gas screw off Yakutat

The 32 ton 54 foot wooden gas screw fishing vessel Swiftsure foundered in a storm 50 miles off of Yakutat October 5-6, 1921.  The crew of 6 fishermen perished with the Swiftsure.  Lost were K R Skotheim, John Skotheim, Gust Bogen, Ole Astad, John Johnson and Andrew Thompson.  The vessel departed Ketchikan and was fishing the Yakutat fishing banks when the disaster occurred.  The Swiftsure had a value of $8,000 and was insured for $4,500.

Sources: 1. U S C G Report of Casualty at Seattle; 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1921) pg 335.

Three Twins 05 Jan 1927 Gas screw near Prince of Wales Island

The 10 ton 34 foot wooden gas screw 3 Twins foundered near Prince of Wales Island at 2:00 p.m. January 5, 1927.  Two of the three persons aboard perished in the disaster.  The vessel departed Ketchikan and was bound for Kendrick Bay.  The following information comes from the casualty report much of which came from the Ketchikan Chronicle from the day after the tragedy; details given by the only survivor, Tom Berry:

“Coast of Prince of Wales Island opposite Ketchikan”  “Heavy sea, very cold, in day time”  “Open hatch and loss of skiff, cover blew off and seas filled boat”  “Foundering”  “Owner of boat was in engine room because of engine trouble when boat sank”  “Total Loss” 

Lost with the 3 Twins were master and owner, T H Voss, and crewman Gus Swenson.  The vessel had a value of $1,500.  She had 2,500 pounds of cargo including coal, $50 worth of groceries for camp and some boom chain on deck.  All was lost with no insurance for the vessel or her cargo.

Sources: 1. U S C G Report of Casualty March 11, 1927 by Mrs. Anne Voss at Ketchikan; 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1926) pgs 520-1.

Townsend 16 Jan 1900 Steam-powered schooner Point of land midway between Haines Mission and Battery Point Stranded in a gale when boilers failed and engines stopped and a 100-foot tall roller seized the ship and threw it onto rocks.  The ship landed on its side and some passengers were thrown into the water.  Some crew and passengers reached shore in lifeboats.  The Rosalie came to the aid of passengers and crew, many of whom suffered from frozen limbs.  Last port: Skagway, 6 January 1900; destination: Haines Mission trading voyage.
Twins 11 May 1930 Gas screw Montague Island

The 11 ton 36 foot gas screw Twins was lost at 6 p.m. May 11, 1930 near Montague Island.  The vessel departed Cordova May 11 bound for Cape Hinchinbrook with three persons aboard.  William Johnson was lost in the disaster.  The following are excerpts from the wreck report file by James Dinneen, master and owner of the Twins:

“Montague Island, 10 miles below Wooded island”  “Got capsized in going ashore and could not return to look after vessel”  “When going ashore from the Twins with my son and William Johnson, our skiff was capsized and we were all thrown into the water.  We succeeded in getting Johnson on to the upturned skiff but he evidently died of heart failure while we were making shore.”  “Drifted ashore from anchorage”  “Vessel was anchored but only with light anchors; intended to return to vessel but could not get back to it” 

Sources: 1. U S C G Report of Casualty June 14, 1930 at Cordova; 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1929) pgs 538-9.

Umnak Native 24 Jan 1933 Oil screw on Umnak Island

The 49 ton, 59 foot wooden oil screw Umnak Native stranded and was lost on Umnak Island the evening of Tuesday January 24, 1933.  The vessel departed Unalaska January 19, 1933 bound for Atka.  There were 10 passengers and 5 crewmen aboard.  All 10 passengers and the master of the vessel perished in the disaster.  The following are excerpts from the casualty report:

“Strong gale, boat stranded at 7 0’clock p.m.”  “Inanudak Bay, Umnak Island”  “Engine failed and anchor chain parted”

The Umnak Native was a total loss.  Lost with her were John Stankus, Olga Stankus, Vern Shasibnikoff, Andrew M Nelson, Mike P Tutiakoff, John Galaktianoff, Stephan Krukof, Stephan Bezezekof, Matfey Pobvorof, Andrebik S Krukof, and George A Krukof.  The Umnak Native was also carrying $3,815 worth of furs and general merchandise.  The vessel had a value of $12,000 which was a total loss along with her cargo.  The vessel was not insured but the cargo was fully insured.  Eleven lives were lost.

Sources: 1. U S C G Report of Casualty May 20, 1933 at Unalaska by Larry Stepetin, Seaman, 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1932) pgs 556-7.

Unknown boat from Boussole 11 July 1786 Yawl South of Lituya Bay Twenty-one men lost in the tidal breakers at the mouth of Lituya Bay while attempting to map the entrance.  Some pieces of the wrecked boat brought to LaPerouse by Natives.
Unknown boat from Astrolabe 11 July 1786 Yawl South of Lituya Bay Same fate as yawl from Boussole.
Unknown Sep 1898 Sloop Near Sunrise City, Turnagain Arm, Cook Inlet Heavily loaded passenger and freight vessel was caught in tidal bore and swamped.  Vessel and nine men (including seven Copper River prospectors) were lost near Sunrise City on Turnagain Arm.  Captain's dog was the only survivor.
Unknown 10 Feb 1830 Baidara Crane Bay, Kodiak Island Wrecked in heavy weather; 20 lives lost.  Wreckage washed ashore.  Last port Kodiak; destination Alexandrovsk Redoubt.
Unknown Japances and Unknown Russian Vessel 1784 Japanese junk Rat Island

UNKNOWN JAPANESE JUNK AND UNKNOWN RUSSIAN VESSEL (1784)     The following is an excerpt from a letter written February 26, 1791 to Count Aleksandr R Vorontsov by Kyrill Laksman detailing the plight of Japanese castaways rescued in the Aleutians by Russian Promyshlenniks:

“On December 13, 1783, seventeen Japanese men sailed out from the town of Shiroko to trade in the capitol city of Yedo.  At the halfway point of their voyage they, like many similar vessels, stopped to spend the night in Semioda Bay.  During a violent windstorm another vessel hit them and broke off their rudder.  Without the rudder they had to cut the mast, and thus they drifted at the mercy of the waves for more than seven months, drifting in various directions.  At last on July 20, 1784 they came to the Aleutian Island of Amisachka where they dropped anchor and went ashore in a small boat.  They found seven Aleut men there who were hunting wild geese.  The Aleuts invited the five Japanese into their earthen huts and gave them cooked goose and fish to eat. 

Toward evening Russian promyshlenniks came to the island from a vessel which had been wrecked on the island, a vessel which belonged to the Totma merchant, Khodilov.  The Russians went to the Japanese vessel and spent the night in a cabin on shore, but during the night there was a storm at sea and the anchor broke away on some sharp rocks underwater.  The ship was cast adrift and then was wrecked on the coast.  Thus, deprived of their last hope, the men had to remain on that island for three years and a month, during which time the Russian promyshlenniks used planks from their wrecked vessel, and the remains of the Japanese vessel, which had been built of redwood and camphor, to build a new vessel.  In September of 1787 they took the remaining nine Japanese men with them to Nizhnekamchatsk ostrog.  Seven of the Japanese had died while they were on the Aleutian Island, and an eighth was killed during a storm at sea”

Source: Russian Penetration of the North Pacific Ocean 1700-1797 (1988) pg 401-412.

Urania 29 Dec 1876 Schooner near Kodiak Disappeared with all hands and cargo of furs.  Last port Kodiak; destination San Francisco.
Walrus 06 Sep 1906 Gas screw Tongass Narrows

Fire destroyed the 9 ton 30 foot wooden gas screw Walrus in Tongass Narrows at 1:30 a.m. Thursday September 6, 1906.  The vessel departed Bell Island September 5th on her way to Ketchikan with six passengers aboard.  The sole crewman was master and owner E. W. Gurney of Ketchikan.  The Walrus had 600 pounds of cargo on deck consisting of two stoves and two gas tanks.  Lost in the disaster were 6 year old Miss Emma McKay and 15 year old Miss Emma McKay.  The following are excerpts from the casualty report:

“Off East Clump Tongass Narrows”  “Light wind, cloudy night”  “Explosion of lantern”  “Fire”  “Caused by explosion, no measures could be taken”  “One passenger and myself launched lifeboat and took all except 2 passengers, of which were burned to death.  The 2 passengers lost were cut off by flames and could not be reached”

Sources : 1. U S Customs Wreck Report September 6, 1906 by Gurney, 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1906) pg 318.

Walter A. Earle 14 Apr 1895 Schooner Pamplona Reef, off Cape St. Elias, Gulf of Alaska Capsized in Great Easter Gale of 1895 with loss of all hands.  Vessel found floating bottom up with rudder gone.  Thirty two men were lost and 15 bodies were found inside the hull when it drifted into Afognak Bay several weeks later.  Crewmen were buried at Kodiak.  It was also though that the vessel could have wrecked on Pamplona Reef - now believed to have been a grounded mass of ice from the Malaspina Glacier.  Last port: Victoria, B.C.; destination: hunting off Icy Bay.
Winifred Feb 1895 Schooner Pacific coast of Lituya Bay Driven ashore in gale.  Captain Jansen died in the mountains while hunting mountain goats to feed himself and crew.  Two crewmen left Lityua Bay in a skiff and arrived in Juneau on 5 April 1895.  Last port: Sitka, October, 1894; destination: Lituya Bay.

The 15 ton wooden schooner Winifred stranded and was lost toward Cape Fairweather from Lituya Bay in November of 1895.  Hans N Jenson of Sitka, master and owner of the Winifred, died in the mountains while trying to make his way to Sitka.  The Winifred had a value of $400.

Sources: 1. U S Customs Wreck Report November 18, 1895 at Sitka by George Moore Acting Coll., 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1875) pg 351.