Northern Alaska Shipwrecks ( A )

ACORS BARNES (1876)     On September 12, 1876 no less than a dozen vessels were caught in the ice and abandoned northeast of Point Barrow.  Among these was the 296 ton wooden whaling bark Acors Barnes of New Bedford, Mass.  A gale came on after the fleet was abandoned and the bark was washed onto the northern shore through a break in the ground ice, where natives set her ablaze.  The 900 pounds of whale bone valued at $18,000 were lost along with the vessel valued at $36,000.

Mapping and Location: Northern Alaska   71 20 N 156 40 W   Charts 16003, 16004

Sources: 1. Revenue Cutter Service 1867-1914 Microcopy 641, Rolls 1-20, GSA Washington 1966, 2. U S Commission of Fish and Fisheries Section 5, Vol II  “Destruction of the Arctic Whaling Fleet, 1876” Pgs 83-84

AGNES E BOYD (1908)     On May 23, 1908 the 55 foot wooden stern wheel steamer Agnes E Boyd was destroyed by the break-up of ice in the Kobuk River.  The steamer was built at Oakland, California in 1898 and had most recently been used for freight hauling.  Her estimated value at the time of the disaster was $2,500.

Mapping and Location: Northern Alaska   67 N 162 W   Chart 16005

Additional Information: Tonnage 31 Gross 23 Net, Length 55, Breadth 17, Depth 4.6, ON 107351, Home Port San Francisco.

Sources: 1. U S Customs Wreck Report 2. The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) Pg156.

ALMIRA (1870)     On August 26, 1870, while on a whaling cruise in the Arctic, the 310 ton ship Almira was stove in by ice and lost near Point Barrow.  She had departed Edgartown, Massachusetts on August 5, 1869 and had accumulated 400 barrels of whale oil, making her loss with cargo $42,000.

Mapping and Location: Northern Alaska   71 23 29 N 156 28 30 W

Source: Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore (1992)

ARCTIC (1876)     On July 7, 1876 the 431 ton whaling bark Arctic out of Honolulu was crushed in the ice 20 miles from shore off Point Franklin (southwest of Point Barrow).  The vessel is reported to have had a value of $43,000 and a cargo of whale oil and bone.  The crew managed to reach shore and was rescued by the whaling vessel Onward.

Mapping and Location: Northern Alaska   70 54 48 N 158 47 50 W   Chart 16003

Comments: A listing of vessels lost in 1876 in U S Revenue Cutter Service records has this vessel lost northeast of Point Barrow on September 12.  Many accountings of the Destruction of the Arctic Whaling Fleet of 1876 are available.

Source: U S Revenue Cutter Service 1867-1914 Microcopy 641 Roll 1.

ARCTIC (1924)     On Sunday August 10, 1924 at 3:45 a.m. the American gas screw Arctic was crushed by ice and became a total loss sixteen miles south of Point Barrow five miles southwest of Cape Smythe.  The 418 net ton vessel had left Nome on July 23 captained by John Bertonccini of San Francisco.  At the time of the accident the Arctic had 21 crewmen and 1 passenger and was laden with cargo, including a deck load.  Her burden was said to be 750 tons of general merchandise valued at $150,000.  The vessel was owned by H Liebes & Company of San Francisco and was only insured for $100,000, substantially less than her actual value.  Her cargo was insured for $137,000.  The following are excerpts from the wreck report submitted by her captain at Collection District 31 Port of Nome on September 5, 1924:

“Sixteen miles south of Point Barrow, Alaska….crushed by the ice….Ice closed in on the vessel and crushed her….Wind calm; weather clear; daylight….Was surrounded by ice and nothing could be done….No assistance rendered.”

“Owing to the ice conditions we were unable to proceed around Point Barrow and remained tied up to some heavy ground ice about one and a half miles from shore in five fathoms of water, where we remained for five days and during that time successfully withstood three separate ice pressures previous to the final crush.”

Mapping and Location: Northern Alaska   71 17 35 N 156 47 20 W

Comments: The two wreck reports differ in value of vessel and cargo, one filed by the captain at Nome and the other by the owners at San Francisco. The name is sometimes spelled Artic.  WG

Additional Information: Tonnage 669 Gross 418 Net, Built 1898, Registration San Francisco, ON 96393, Destination Herschel Island Northwest Territories.

Sources: 1. U S Customs Report of Casualty filed at Collection District 28 Port of San Francisco 2. U S Customs Report of Casualty filed at Collection District 31 Port of Nome. 3. The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) Pg 357.

ARNOLD LIEBES (1934)     The gas boat Arnold Liebes wrecked at Point Barrow in 1934 and became a total loss.

Mapping and Location: Northern Alaska   71 23 29 N 156 28 30 W

Source: The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) Pg 432

AWASHONKS (1871)     The 376 ton wooden bark whaling vessel Awashonks was caught and crushed between two ice floes off Sea Horse Island, near Point Belcher, Alaska, September 12, 1871.  She was valued at $58,000.  The officers and crew of the Awashonks escaped to other vessels of the whaling fleet.

Mapping and Location: Northern Alaska   70 53 N 158 42 W

Comments: The loss of whaling vessels during 1871 is well documented in many locations.

Sources: 1. The Revenue Cutter Service 1867-1914 (1966) 2. Destruction of the Arctic Whaling Fleet Harpers Weekly (1871)

4 Replies to “Northern Alaska Shipwrecks ( A )”

  1. In 1923, my grandfather, John E. Heitmann, died as result of a serious accident (lost arm in anchor winch) on his halibut schooner (Alaskan) in Icy Straits. The boat was sold and according to Harold Locken, was destroyed off of Kodiak Island around 1928. Do you have any record of this sinking that you could send to me? Looking forward to a response. Thanks Donald Heitmann

    1. I have found several newspaper stories about your Father and the halibut schooner Alaska including the newspaper story of his accident in 1923. I will send them via email. I also have the wreck report from 1928 of the schooner Alaska on Kodiak Island which I will send as well. Hope this is helpful.

      1. Thanks for your response. I never received anything and would sure appreciate it if you could send the info again. My e-mail address is: donald_e_heitmann In advance, thank you for your efforts. As an aside, I got my grandfather’s name on the Fishermen’s Memorial in Ballard, WA.

        1. Glad to hear that you have gotten your grandfather’s name on the Memorial. I will send you an email attaching the original article of his demise along with his obituary and the obituary of his wife many years later.

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