Northern Alaska Shipwrecks ( B )

BASIL (1950)     The 28 ton 47 foot steel oil screw Basil stranded and was lost September 7, 1950 on the beach at Cape Lisburne.

Mapping and Location: Northern Alaska   68 53 N 166 13 W   Chart 16005

Additional Information: Tonnage 28 Gross 19 Net, Length 47, Breadth 14, Depth 5, Built unknown, Former Name LCM-3-500004 (U S N), Horsepower 330, Owner Gaasland Company, Registered Bellingham WA, ON 260855

Sources: 1. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1952) Pg 48, 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1953-1954) “Vessels Reported Lost” Pg 744


BAYCHIMO (1931)     The trading supply steamer Baychimo was caught in the ice and abandoned in the Arctic Ocean in the fall of 1931.  One report was that she drifted for 52 months along with the arctic ice pack until she finally disappeared in 1934.  Others have the Baychimo sighted as late as 1969.  She is often referred to as the “Ghost Ship of the Arctic”.

Mapping and Location: Northern Alaska   Somewhere in the Arctic

Additional Information: Construction steel, Tonnage 1322, Built 1914 Sweden, Owner Hudson Bay Company, Length 230 feet

Sources: 1. The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) Pgs 419&432, 2. (2013)

BOWHEAD (1884)     The 533 ton steam whaling bark Bowhead was lost on August 11, 1884 at Blossom Shoals near Icy Cape.  She had departed San Francisco December 16, 1883 bound for a whaling voyage in the Arctic.  The crew had made the Bowhead fast to ground ice to clean her boilers when she was struck and holed by a piece of drifting ice. She sank quickly.  The crew was rescued by the vessels Narwhal and Balaena nearby.  Some of the cargo of whale oil, bone and whaling station supplies was salvaged but the Bowhead, said to be worth more than $100,000, was lost.

Mapping and Location: Northern Alaska   70 23 N 161 57 W   Chart 16003

Sources: 1. U S Revenue Cutter Service 1867-1914 Microcopy 641 (1966), 2. Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore (1992)

4 Replies to “Northern Alaska Shipwrecks ( B )”

  1. Hello,

    Is there any information on the Sealing Schooner “Bessie Rueter”? Records I have found report that it went down with all hands in the Chukchi Sea on Oct. 6, 1892. My Great Uncle, Walter E. Handy was a crew member. That’s about all I have been able to glean so far. He was from Marion, Massachusetts.


    Willy Cutts
    Newberry, Florida

    1. The Bessie Rueter is listed in the Unknown section as a 31 ton schooner lost with all hands in Alaskan Waters. My information came from a list called Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore published in 1992. I believe that information came from a shipwreck book by J Gibbs called Windjammers of the Pacific Rim from 1987. You mentioned October 6, 1892 and the Chukchi Sea which I cross referenced and the 324 ton whaling bark Helen Mar went down then (Oct 6, 1892) and there (Chukchi Sea) with the loss of most of its crew (35). What is most interesting is the First Mate’s name was listed as W E Hardy. This information can be found in Lewis and Dryden’s Marine History of the Pacific Northwest published in 1895 but available online for download. The story of the demise of W E Hardy and the Helen Mar is at the top of page 406.

      1. The sinking of the Helen Mar in 1892 was one of Alaska’s worst maritime disasters. I always recommend that family members, who lost loved ones, contact the Alaska State Troopers Missing Persons Program and request a DNA kit. In the event that sometime in the future a shipwreck site is excavated and human remains are located, they may be identified through DNA. Sorry for your loss.

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