Alaska Shipwrecks A – Z

This section contains an alphabetical list of all known shipwrecks in Alaskan Waters.  The earliest recorded wreck in Alaskan waters is 1750 and the latest I have entered is 2009.  The coordinates given on each wreck are for the geographic features which are cited in wreck reports and listings.  Most are from the Dictionary of Alaska Place Names.  If a casualty report mentions that a wreck took place in Cook Inlet, I use the longitude and latitude that the Dictionary of Alaska Place Names gives for Cook Inlet, which is a point somewhere in the middle of Cook Inlet.  Sometimes the coordinates are more accurate.  Wolcott Reef, for example, is a much smaller geographic feature, so the coordinates I use, given in the Dictionary of Alaska Place Names, would probably put you very near that particular wreck magnet and a bunch of rocks with multiple colors of bottom paint on them.  There is an explanation of abbreviations at the beginning of each section.  Thanks for visiting and smooth sailing… Captain Warren Good.  Please respect Copyrights.

(A)  (B)  (C)  (D)  (E)  (F)  (G)  (H)  (I)  (J)  (K)  (L)  (M)

(N)  (O)  (P)  (Q)  (R)  (S)  (T)  (U)  (V)  (W)  (X)  (Y)  (Z)  (NUM)

1980 EF PWS Elizabeth F16

36 Responses to Alaska Shipwrecks A – Z

  1. casey mapes says:

    Curious if there is any more info available on the wreck of the Saint David on Khantaak Is., Yakutat Bay? Report has it as a 1500 ton copper ore barge that broke up on the island’s out coast. Was she carrying ore, and if so, how much? Having a hard time find much information about it. How acurate do you suppose the provided lat. Lons. Are? Thanks for the site, very interesting.

    • captaingood says:

      The long and lat information on all wrecks on this site is the long and lat of points of land given in accident citations and reports. This wreck is mentioned in the H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (Pg 294) as happening at Khantaak Island. The coordinates I mention are for a point of land mentioned as the reference point for the wreck. I got them from the Dictionary of Alaska Place Names by Donald J Orth (Pg 513) when I looked up Khantaak Island which was mentioned in H W McCurdy. I do not have the exact location of the wreck site specifically and do not know if any salvage was attempted. This was during WWI so copper was an important metal in the war effort. I did a quick newspaper search of the particulars of this wreck and found an article about the British tug Commodore being sued over the loss of a barge at Mary Island in southeast Alaska several months earlier. I don’t know if that is the same tug. There was another article from the year before mentioning the Commodore leaving Alaska from the Midas Mine with 2,500 tons of copper ore in September of 1916. Good Luck and Smooth Sailing.

  2. I’m trying to get some information about the Canadian schooner Vera, a former sealer. She was supposedly on an arctic expedition and there’s a news entry that she was “lost on the Alaska coast” October 11, 1914, with 10 hands. No information anywhere else that I can find but she never appears in any register after that. Vera was the former Halcyon, a San Francisco built yacht and notorious opium smuggler.

    • captaingood says:

      I am not familiar with a schooner named Vera lost in the Arctic in 1914 or any other year. The only significant Arctic loss I have record of in 1914 was the Karluk and 11 of the members of the Stefansson Expedition. There was a schooner Vera that was owned by the Victoria Sealing Company. If I am not mistaken you are making reference to the 82 foot schooner Halcyon that was built as a pleasure craft for sugar magnate John D Spreckles in 1887 at San Francisco. He sold the vessel to commercial interests and she eventually became an opium smuggler and infamous sealer. The Victoria Sealing Company sold the Halcyon in 1915 to two Seattle investors who intended to use her for the Mexico trade. That effort was not profitable and in 1916 the Halcyon was chartered for use in the southwest Alaska trade. The Halcyon was engaged in the halibut fishery when she foundered in 1918. She had been double anchored in Akutan Bay for the winter when her mooring chains parted in a fierce southwesterly storm. She blew out into Akun Passage and disappeared. There was no one aboard at the time.

  3. No, this Halcyon was built in 1883 by William Stone at Hunter’s Point in San Francisco for Harry Tevis. Tevis sold her to Joseph Grant in 1884 and she was raced on the bay until 1887 by Grant and Robert Morrow when she was sold again to William Whaley and Ewen McLean, who used her for an opium smuggler for the next five years. Her last run (with opium and Chinese aliens) was August 1892 to Monterey Bay. BC Customs seized her returning to Victoria and fined her $800. She was sold to J.C. Fox? as a sealer and made a number of seasons in that capacity until being sold in 1912 to a Smith from Ottawa who planned to use her for “arctic expeditions.” Then there’s the reference to being lost on the Alaska coast October 11, 1914 and nothing after that. Spreckels had a very similar yacht at the time, and raced Halcyon with her up to 1886, but that was Lurline, built by Matthew Turner at Benicia. She was 80 feet if you counted the bowsprit, but she was built in 1883, too.

    • captaingood says:

      The Halcyon built in San Francisco in 1887 was Official Number 95914 Signal Letters KDRV. She was listed in Merchant Vessels of the United States at 82 feet but in subsequent years as little as 74 feet. I expect the larger is length overall and the smaller waterline length. This is the vessel lost near Akutan in 1918. Many newspaper stories attribute this vessel as built for John D Spreckels. I have no actual documentation of that fact. I have most of the Merchant Vessel lists from 1868 forward and this Halcyon is represented during the period we are discussing. I also have a copy of the Report of Casualty filed with the U S Coast Guard November 15, 1918 by the foreman of North Pacific Sea Products at Akutan where the Halcyon was lost. What is interesting is that John Spreckels vessel Lurline was boarded by officers of the Revenue Cutter Corwin in 1888 near San Francisco. The boarding officers accused the Lurline of actually being the smuggler Halcyon. There is an article in the Daily Alta California paper of September 21, 1888 detailing the confrontation. I haven’t been able to find anything about the loss of the Canadian Schooner Vera including the newspaper article you referenced.

  4. Hmm. Well, the 1883 Halcyon definitely became Vera in late 1892, and began sealing in 1893. I’ve got a picture of her as Vera at a wharf in Victoria with canoes on the deck, which is sealer M.O., and there’s a picture of her in Lewis & Dryden flying a flag “Vera.” They mention her frequently.
    The reference to the Alaska wreck is from the American Library Annual: Including Index to Dates of Current Events etc., 1914, from page 59. It’s in Google Books.
    The entry reads: “Schooner Vera, Alaskan Coast, 10 lost O(ctober) 11”
    I can’t find anything else in any newspapers so I don’t know where they got their info. If she didn’t go ashore in 1914, I’d like to know what happened to her.

    • captaingood says:

      It is possible that we are speaking of the same vessel. I have found citations that mention the Halcyon was purchased from Harry Tevis by the Spreckels Family and later sold to commercial concerns. I will continue to research this fascinating story.

  5. Tevis sold her in the summer of 1884 to Joseph Grant and Robert Morrow, a couple of San Francisco businessmen. They kept her on the bay for three years, sailing her for the Pacific Yacht Club in Sausalito. In June or July 1887, Grant and Morrow sold her for $6,000 to a syndicate that was supposedly going to make her a sealer out of Victoria. Alfred Metcalf, a former tugboat captain with no sealing experience, and two former customs officers, William Whaley and Ewen McLean, both of whom were under indictment in an alien smuggling case, were members of the syndicate. Metcalf took her north in August. She claimed to be sealing for the next two years but never produced many skins. (17 one year, probably bought from a real sealer.) In reality, she was transporting opium and Chinese aliens from Victoria to San Francisco, and later, opium to Honolulu.

    • captaingood says:

      The Merchant Vessels of the U S has the 75 foot Lurline (Official Number 140605) built in 1883 and the 74 foot Halcyon (Official Number 95914) in 1887. I believe this is the Halcyon mentioned in Lewis and Dryden as being built in 1886 at Benicia. The same article discusses her transition from yacht to sealer and smuggler with the name Vera. The 74 foot Halcyon of 1887 stays in the Merchant Vessels lists until 1891 when she disappears until 1913; which gives credence to some of the stories of her nefarious activities outside of the U S. In 1913 she returns as the Halcyon with the same official number 95914. Newspaper Articles of March and April 1913 detail the sale of the Vera from the Victoria Sealing Company to investors in Seattle who rename her Halcyon. In 1917 there is an article in Western Canner and Packer that details the history of the Halcyon from John D Spreckels yacht to opium smuggler to Canadian Sealing schooner to her final purchase by the North Pacific Sea Products company. Interestingly there is an article in December of 1913 in the San Diego Union that almost connects this same vessel to Jack London’s book Sea Wolf.

  6. Yeah, I’ve read the same things. The problem is there were apparently two Halcyons built in San Francisco, one in 1883, and one in 1887, both by William Stone. They’re both about the same tonnage, so maybe he used the same W.G. Hall model, I don’t know. Hall designed the first one, for sure. But the first one is well documented as having been on the bay and sailing in the period 1883-1887, and her ownership can be traced through the yacht club and newspaper records. Then she goes to Whaley and the smugglers, who keep her until October/November 1892 and sell her in BC. She becomes Vera. The Daily Alta California for January 1 1888 has an article on California shipbuilding in 1887 that shows William Stone built a schooner Halcyon that year, 64 tons, but that clearly can’t be Tevis’ Halcyon, because she’s been in the San Francisco papers off an on already for almost four years. The same article shows Turner building the barkentine Lurline, which is right. Of course, the papers are pretty clueless anyway, because half of them credit the build to Matthew Turner, which is wrong. Maybe the 1887 is the one that went ashore later. There was a three-masted lumber schooner Halcyon that was in the trade at the same time.

    • captaingood says:

      I found another Halcyon abandoned in the ice and lost in 1901 in the Arctic. I also found the reference to the Halcyon lost with 10 crewmen in October of 1913 not 1914. I don’t trust the source on that one. I have some friends that have a salvage and diving business out of Dutch Harbor. They are fairly close to the Halcyon loss near Akutan. Winds and currents being what they are, that schooner probably ended up across Akun Pass. If it was lucky, it got holed on the rocks and then sank in deep enough water to be preserved.

  7. Incidentally, Jack London wrote about or at least mentions Halcyon by name or her smugglers five times in different books or short stories, and might have actually met Vera while he was on his sealing cruise in the Sophie Sutherland in 1892. He’d heard of the legend at least. And there were two full-length novels, “The Flying Halcyon” and “King of the Opium Ring” and a theatrical production, also “King of the Opium Ring” written about the ship. You can see posters from the play online today. Cheesy. Also a silent film, “The Opium Smugglers” in 1912, loosely based. I’ve read the books, they’re not very good, although London’s stories are much better.

  8. If you have an email address I’ll send you a terrific photograph of Halcyon, taken in 1886 at the Golden Gate.

  9. I’m starting to think there’s only one Halcyon, built in 1883, but registered in 1887. Prior to that she was a yacht and wouldn’t have been on the commercial registry. Wouldn’t that explain why her number is so much lower than Lurline’s? We know the Tevis/Grant/Morrow boat was taken up for merchant service in 1887 – the yachtsmen were all whining about what a loss it would be – and aside from that one article I’ve never seen anything that had Stone building a second Halcyon. I think she got registered for the first time as a commercial vessel in 1887, and assigned that 95914 number. She was in Japan, Hawaii, and Canada in 1891, and didn’t come back to the US, which is right.

    • captaingood says:

      I will send you some of the references I have via email. I read through 30 years of Merchant Vessels lists, Lewis and Dryden, H W McCurdy, and a few other archives and can only find one 74 foot Halcyon/Vera/Halcyon that makes much sense. It is hard to fathom why the 74 foot Halcyon would not have been registered from 1883 to 1887 when the 75 foot schooner Lurline of 1883 was. I will keep digging for an explanation.

    • captaingood says:

      The official numbers that were being used at the time had to do with the first letter of the name. For example vessels whose name started with L were assigned numbers between 140,000-149,999. Vessels whose name started with H were assigned numbers between 95,000 and 99,999. It was the new numbering system recently adopted.

  10. John Madinger says:

    Thanks again for the information. I’m satisfied that Halcyon 95914 that was lost in 1918 is the same one that was the notorious smuggler. It still doesn’t explain why her build date is wrong, but another mystery. I saw from the 1889 register of merchant vessels that Halcyon was owned by A.W. Wilson of San Francisco, which is correct. Wilson was the buyer of record from Joseph Grant and Robert Morrow. Wilson later had an interest in at least two other smugglers, the schooners Lena L and the Labrador, and he came within an inch of going to prison with the rest of the Labrador’s crew in 1898.

    • captaingood says:

      What an amazing amount of confusion around the origin and disposition of the Halcyon. I am inclined to believe that her history has been muddled intentionally. Her final disposition, according to my records is as unbelievable. She just disappeared into a storm with no one aboard.

  11. John Madinger says:

    The owners definitely tried to confuse things at the beginning. William Whaley and Ewen McLean, two former Customs officers, were the real owners, but they used a front man, A. W. Wilson. They told everybody that the A stood for Alfred, but it was really Albert. And when he was listing himself later as the owner of two other smuggling vessels, the Lena L and the Labrador, he called himself Albert Weinrich, using his middle name. And Ewen McLean got indicted for smuggling, fled to Canada, went legit, got rich, founded the Vancouver Stock Exchange, and actually got listed in Who’s Who in Canada, but added an extra ‘a’ to his name, spelling it MacLean ever after to hide the connection to his past.

  12. Jim Brisco says:

    I had the unfortunate honor of being on two boats that sank in a 25 year fishing career that started in Kodiak and ended in the Bering Sea. My first sinking was on the 45′ Elva V, a wooden crab boat owned by Mitch Sutton of Kodiak. The vessel hit a rock and we took a skiff and paddled ashore and built a fire. We were picked up that night by Tim Longrich of Kodiak on his small dungeness boat. The sinking happened on September 27, 1973. The three of us on board, Mitch Sutton, Robin Reed, and myself were all fine. This sinking was mentioned in an Alaska Magazine article in August of 1974 by Nancy Freeman.
    I was also captain on the 92 foot Eagle, a steel crab boat that sank October 31st. 1980. The boat was orange and black and sank on Halloween night. Everyone got off safely.
    Thanks for all of the time you put into this. I lost a lot of friends over the years due to boat sinkings. Great job

    • captaingood says:

      Thanks for the input. I don’t have the Elva V in my records anywhere. I see her in the Merchant Vessels list as a 45 foot wood hulled vessel built in Eureka California in 1961 official number 286404 and owned by Frank E Sutton. I will add her to my lost vessels lists. The location of a land mark near where she sank would be helpful. Also was the Eagle a Bender? I sure would like to hear the whole story about that sinking. I take email at warren@alaskashipwreck.com. We probably crossed paths during our fishing careers. I fished out of Kodiak and Dutch Harbor from about 1972 to 1995. Worked on many boats but spent the most time with Stormy Stutes on the Nordic, Caprice, Walter N and Elizabeth F. I am retired and living on Social Security now down here in Florida. No more “stack em” and “let’s haul back, I just dragged the gear over a rock pile”. Life is Good.

  13. Robert Haight says:

    I am looking for the name of a Bureau of Fisheries research vessel that ran aground and sank in Stephens Passage just north of Taku Harbor on June 29, 1960. 4 men were on board and all escaped safely and were later rescued. It was about 60 feet long, equipped with sonar, and sank in deep water near shore.

    • captaingood says:

      The only research vessel that I can find lost in the area of Taku Harbor was the former research vessel Black Bear which had been renamed Tarleton H Bean. The 35 foot herring fishing vessel Tarleton H Bean disappeared December 10, 1958 in Taku Inlet. The vessel was abandoned in a gale by three Alaska Fish and Wildlife Service men who had been doing herring research when they became entrapped in the ice of a small land projection. The three men boarded the U S Coast Guard Cutter Sweetbriar unharmed. A power barge was sent to recover the vessel but the Tarleton H Bean could not be found.

  14. Andrea Dye says:

    I have a picture of my Dad standing on a ship sometime in 1947 that has been wrecked on the Alaska coastline. According to him it was a ship that Jack London was on or maybe it was Jack London’s. Do you have any information of what ship that would be? Thank you.

    • captaingood says:

      Without more information, I am not able to figure out which vessel your Dad is standing on. Where the wreck was, when it happened, about how large a vessel or any other detail would be helpful. Even which part of Alaska…Aleutians, Arctic or Gulf would be very helpful. If you could email the picture I could maybe figure it out. My address is warren@alaskashipwreck.com

  15. Katrina Manning Baker says:

    I was told my uncle was on the merchant ship Yukon that sank in February 1946. Where can I find pictures and the crew manifest? Are ther any public records?

    • captaingood says:

      The Yukon wreck was widely reported in newspapers throughout the country. Was your Uncle a passenger or crewman? I can look through my files and see if I have any mention of him.

  16. Katrina Baker says:

    Thank you for your reply. My uncle, Jack Sandmo, was part of the crew. I was told he saved some lives. Afterward he went back home to Everett, WA and never spoke about it.

    Any information you may have would be appreciated.

    Thank you.

    • captaingood says:

      I have a great many news articles about the loss of the Yukon. I searched through and found your uncle listed as part of the crew in the Bellingham Herald. I will email you a copy of the article. It would take further research to find particular details of heroics and outstanding behavior during the disaster.

  17. Katrina Baker says:

    Thank you so much for the information! I’ll continue to research.
    Again, I really appreciate your help and time to find it.

    Sincerely

  18. Larry a patton says:

    Captaingood: I would like to purchase your Alaska shipwrecks CD but don’t know the current ( 2016 ) …is today’s price still valid ?

  19. Larry a patton says:

    Morning Captain, I don’t understand how to use the ‘bookmarks’ or the ‘thumbnails’ ….I wanted to bookmark certain vessel losses for easy retrieval…example, I sailed on the f/v Pacific Lady with Ole Harder a couple times and we did main engine repower in Seattle…those were good times, mid to late 1960’s.Ole was one of those fine Danish fisherman….I have about 1/4 Danish blood from my mothers side of the tree…I recall all the great cheeses we always had on board along with a bottle of medicinal Brandy for a short now an then. I’ll never forget the Pacific Lady…she slid thru the water with barely a wake but rolled your guts out…I had heard that a Rudy and brother Patterson had confiscated most of the material to build the boat from a shipyard they worked at back in the early 1950’s. She was a heavily built 70′ with 3/8″ framing…don’t know the hull plating thickness. I use a picture of the “Lady” on my phone screen….Lawrence

    • captaingood says:

      Yes, I remember Ole. The first time I ever went out on a King Crab trip was on a boat he had called the Chenega. I think Ron Thompson was running it. That was in the early 1970’s. I have a picture of the Pacific Lady in the 1980’s down on the 4th finger in Kodiak with the Gladys R. Most of the rest of the boats around them were steel crabbers.

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