South West Alaska Shipwrecks ( M )

MERMAID (1899)     The 273 ton whaling bark Mermaid was lost in a storm at Dutch Harbor October 28, 1899 along with one crewman.  The Mermaid had sailed out of San Francisco March 28, 1899 for whaling in the North Pacific.  She had the whale bone from two bowhead whales as cargo.  The cargo was saved, but the Mermaid, valued at $29,000, was a total loss.  The vessel was condemned and later rebuilt for the Nome trade.

                Mapping and Location : Southwest Alaska  53 54 N 166 31 W  Chart 16528

                Sources : 1. The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) Pg 52, 2. Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore (1992)


MINNIE (1900)     The two masted 50 ton Canadian schooner Minnie was lost at Ugamak Island July 26, 1900.  The vessel was driven onto a reef in a dense fog.  The crew escaped to safety in lifeboats and were later rescued by the steamer Alliance and schooner Walter L Rich.  The Minnie became a total loss.

                Mapping and Location : Southwest Alaska  54 12 30 N 164 50 W  Chart 16531

                Sources : 1. The H W McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest (1966) Pg 64, 2. Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore (1992)


MONONGAHELA (1853)     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.

                Mapping and Location : Southwest Alaska 52 19 N 172 30 W  Chart 16480

                Comment : I have mapped this wreck at Seguam Island as it was mentioned in the 1855 Sailer’s Magazine article.  WG

                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


MYRTLE (1870)     The schooner Myrtle was wrecked in the Aleutians late in 1870.

                Mapping and Location : Southwest Alaska Unknown

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



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *