Alaska Shipwrecks 1750-2015

This section contains chronological tables of all known, referenced or recorded shipwrecks in Alaskan waters.  The seven tables are the product of many years of research by Captain Warren Good and Michael Burwell.  Each entry contains the Year, Vessel Name, Area of Alaska, Vessel Size, Vessel Type, Lives Lost and Number of Survivors.  Additional details about specific wrecks can be found by looking up the vessel name in the A-Z section of this site.

(1750-1799)    (1800-1899)    (1900-1925)    (1926-1950)    (1951-1975)    

(1976-2000)    (2000-2015) 

S S Aleutian
S S Aleutian

Much of the information available on this site can be found and substantiated in Marine Historian Michael Burwell’s maritime research while with the Federal Government and the BOEM from 1984 until 2010.  Some of Mr Burwell’s work is available in a 610 page chronological shipwreck table published by the United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Energy Management.   The 2011 version  is available as a pdf file by clicking on the following link:

http://www.boem gov uploadedFiles BOEM About Regions Alaska Region Ships 2011 Shipwreck

27 Replies to “Alaska Shipwrecks 1750-2015”

    1. Great picture. I do not know for sure what vessel that is. The only one I can think of would be the Ocean Venture which blew ashore in 1982. It was an old Army power barge built in 1943 as the BSP2077 USA. Most of power barges that the fleet used were “bow pickers” with wider more square looking bows than this. It is sitting flat which would make you think that it was a flat bottomed vessel like a power barge would be. I will have to do some research.

    2. Carl,
      A friend who works for the BIA asked me about this wreck in 2011 and I did some research. In a call to Togiak National Wildlife Refuge Technician Pete Abraham he told me the vessel is the Gull used by Togiak Fisheries as a freezer ship in the 80’s. It went ashore in a flood in the mid-80’s. It was originally the (Landing Ship Support Large) LSSL-108 built in 1945 in Portland. Sold private 1951. Bought in Seattle and then had Juneau owners until bought by Togiak Fisheries in the 70’s. Last documentation was 1986. 151.4 x 23.2 x 11.3, ON 267955. Can send you a pdf of my file on the Gull.

  1. Okay thanks, thats much appreciated. Maybe you could help with this one too, the stern section of a fishing vessel in Pumicestone Bay on Unalaska. It still has paint on it but I can’t make out the name:

    1. I am not familiar with that wreck. I have nothing in my files listed for Pumicestone Bay. There are many wrecks where location is generalized so I would look for a wreck on south or west Unalaska Island. I do not allow the use of links in posts on this site.

    2. I looked around for wrecks in that area of Unalaska Island and found two. One is the Selendang Ayu which broke in two just north of the bay you mentioned. The other is the Chil Bo San No 6 which went ashore south of Spray Cape which is at the entrance to Pumicestone Bay. My computer blocked the use of the link you posted so I did not see the picture. If you could send it to me in an email at [email protected] I may be able to identify it.

  2. I’m looking for the father of someone in Alaska. All she knows is that he was lost at sea in a fishing vessel 1955 in Bristol Bay, Alaska and his last name was Peterson. I’ve narrowed that down to two ships, the RUTH and the HAROLD J. Can anyone possibly tell me how to find the names of the people on board who died? His nickname was “Sven the Swede”.
    Thank you,

    1. I have the names of those lost on the Ruth and Harold J. and none are Peterson. I will do some further research. Any other information could be useful. What he may have been fishing for, the time of year, where the vessel was from like what country or what state…anything can help. I will keep looking.

      1. There is no Peterson on the Ruth? Ok. I had found an archive with the names of the people who died on the Harold J. Maybe if I could see the names of the people who died on the Ruth please? Thank you.

        1. The 30 foot Hydaburg troller Ruth exploded and burned September 9, 1955 near
          San Juan Bautista Island between Craig and Hydaburg. Only Paul Deeds of the vessels five
          crewmembers was rescued. Three others were killed in the explosion including Duke Helmer (63),
          Al Lehman and Raymond Haldane (39). Owner Chester Bull (59) went missing and was presumed
          lost when he attempted to swim to shore. The explosion was caused by a dislodged gas line to the
          vessel’s engine leaking near the galley stove.

          1. Wow, I don’t know how you found all that info, but I know it was some work. I really appreciate what you did for me. Thanks.

            1. I will keep looking for information and contact you if I find any. My records from this period are somewhat lacking. Your specific information should be sufficient to find out what boat was lost and who was on it. I have many cold cases like this and solve them as more newspapers go digital and my searches bear fruit.

    2. The only vessel in my records that was lost in Bristol Bay in 1955 was the 49 foot Ugashik Three which burned at Ugashik July 20, 1955. My records are far from complete and much of what I have found has not yet been edited onto this website. I will keep looking.

      1. Thanks very much for your research. Did any die on the Ugashik? The time of the ship wreak and death would have been Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov of 1955.

  3. I have been looking for years for any information regarding the fishing vessel
    (Reina). My uncle Victor Hansen was the Skipper and two young men were on their
    Way to Alaskan waters to fish The Reina was lost November 13 1965 at Seguam Island. I look forward to a reply.

    1. The information on the Reina on this site has not been updated from my files. I have two newspaper articles I will email you. One is regarding the search for the Reina and the other is an obituary article.

  4. The processor ‘Kayak” sunk, ironically, behind Kayak Island (Cape St. Elias) after it hit Sea Ranger Reef. I was aboard the longliner Aloha, anchored behind Kayak Island waiting out a storm. We had been listening the night before to the Kayak talking to the Coast Guard as they tried to get through that bad storm. They were trying to make the Cape, but it was tough going. They reported having lost the barge they were towing, and then lost all their electronics except a depth sounder. Their plan then was to follow the 50 fathom edge and hopefully get around the corner in the morning. That next morning, time to go back out fishing. We picked up and started running from the anchorage down the length of the island to the Cape, 9 miles away. We heard that the Kayak had made the corner and were likely headed our way to the anchorage. Before too long, I spotted a mast in the far distance – just see it in the binoculars., Every few minutes, I would look again, until abruptly the shape had changed. Although still a very long way off, I could see that the shape was now rounded. Very different from what we had been seeing – suspiciously like a boat hull. Minutes later, that shape we were looking at was gone. The skipper, Orrie Bell, tried to raise the Kayak on the radio – no luck. He then called the Coast Guard to tell them what we saw and that we were checking it out. When we got closer, we could smell diesel fuel and some debris. Then we saw two life rafts in toward the island, in the shallows – too shallow for the Aloha to go. I took our 10’ skiff with another deck hand in there to get them. There were 4 guys in each raft and two guys in the water; all in survival suits. We threw a line and towed them out to the Aloha. We had to threaten the guys in the water with an oar to keep them from trying to climb in that tiny skiff. Pretty panicky guys at that point. We kept them on the boat for a few hours, until transferring them to the Shirley J, who was on his way to Cordova. Orrie was surprised to see the Kayak captain, who he knew, and had just seen in Seattle a few months prior. The engineer was from Yakutat. I believe the rest of them were cannery workers. Later that day we recovered two wooden trunks with personal gear inside. The owners’ names and addresses were on there so later that summer, they were surprised to receive their trunks. It’s too bad that the Kayak made it through that storm, into calm waters, only to drive up on a reef and sink.

  5. Hello:

    I am doing research on Scotch Cap and have been looking on this site.
    I’ll let you know if I have any questions on the wrecks around Unimak Pass.

    Any comments you might have would be appreciated re: other sources.

    1. The Unimak Pass area is one of the most dangerous and deadly areas of Alaska for those in maritime trades. High traffic, bad weather and unpredictable currents have converged to sink at least a dozen vessels in range of the light at Scotch Cap. Several dozen have been put into “wet storage” on the bottom of Unimak Pass south and west of Scotch Cap by the same malignant set of circumstances. It is one of the few areas of Alaska that have the capacity to overpower very large vessels with the ferocity of surface conditions in conjunction with amazingly powerful currents. I have no doubt the name Scotch Cap will make the news many times in the future.

  6. hi
    i am looking for information about a korean? cargoship stranded in the 80s 90s somewhere near dutch harbour if you find something what comes close let me know
    thanks in advance
    dirk hartman

    1. The one that comes to mind immediately is the Dae Rim. That information is as follows: The 291 foot Korean cargo ship Dae Rim caught fire and washed ashore February 28, 1981 at Cape Wrangell 90 miles west of Attu in the Aleutian Islands. 24 crewmembers were lost and only two survived.

      Another was The Korean freighter Pan Nova which collided with another freighter September 10, 1983 northeast of Dutch Harbor near Unimak pass and began taking on water. She eventually sank north of Akun Island.

      There have been about a half dozen Korean fishing vessels lost in that same time period.

      Another Korean cargo vessel that ran aground but was not lost was the 512 foot Hyundai No 12 which stranded in Twelve Fathom Strait between Simeonof Island and Little Koniuji Island October 2, 1991. That freighter was pulled off the rocks and taken to Sand Point for a major hull survey.

  7. My grandparents were aboard a cruise ship in Alaskan waters. I believe it might have been in the 1950’s. I only remember seeing photographs of the wreck when I was a young boy. From what I saw in the pictures this ship ran into (grounded on) a small island. My grandmother always maintained that the captain had been drinking the night before. The photos showed that this was no small reef, but rather an island. As far as I can remember, my grandparents said that no one was lost in the accident. Been trying to find out the date and name of the vessel.

    1. There have been many Alaska shipwrecks over the years involving cruise ships. Was the ship lost? The one that came to mind first was the Princess Kathleen that stranded and sank September 7, 1952 at Lena Point just north of Juneau. All 425 passengers and crew were able to get away before she slid off and sank. That is the only 1950s passenger ship where everyone survived. There were accidents where the vessel was salvaged but the Princess Kathleen was a complete loss.

  8. Bingo! You nailed it! The Princess Kathleen was the cruise ship my grandparents were on, and they, too, thought they had struck an island. I was about 2 years old when she grounded.
    Thank you!

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