South West Alaska Shipwrecks ( U-V-W )

UMNAK NATIVE (1933)     The 49 ton 59 foot wooden oil screw Umnak Native stranded and was lost on Umnak Island the evening of Tuesday January 24, 1933. The vessel departed Unalaska January 19, 1933 bound for Atka. There were 11 passengers and 5 crewmen aboard when the vessel was forced into Inanudak Bay on the northwest side of Umnak Island by contrary weather. The crewmembers were mostly Native trappers who had been picked up along the way and recruited to assist aboard the Umnak Native which was owned by the Native Community of Umnak. During the night, a cold northerly wind blew the Umnak Native loose from her poorly protected anchorage on the northwest side of Umnak Island. Both her engines and her anchor tackle failed and the doomed vessel piled onto the rocks of Inanudak Bay. Four drowned as the vessel was pounded on the reefs by the heavy wind and seas. 12 survivors clung to the wreckage and somehow in the dark of night one by one made it to the snow covered beach.  Three Native trappers, cold and wet, immediately set out on foot for help. The closest village was a 60 mile hike away. Eight of the nine who stayed behind eventually succumbed to the cold and were lost. It was more than a week before the three trappers were able to return with help, not expecting to find any survivors. A cold winter storm had been hampering travel and threatening their very lives. It was only with super human effort that they were able to return to the wreck site again on foot. When they finally arrived to the scene of the wreck in Inanudak Bay, only Bishop Antonin Pokrovsky was alive. All told, 12 were lost including all but one of the passengers and the master of the vessel..  The following are excerpts from the casualty report:

“Strong gale, boat stranded at 7 0’clock p.m.”  “Inanudak Bay, Umnak Island”  “Engine failed and anchor chain parted”

The Umnak Native was a total loss.  Lost with her were the vessel’s captain John Stankus, his wife Olga Stankus and their infant child, captain Andrew M Nelson of the Eunice , Vern Shasibnikoff, Mike P Tutiakoff a Russian priest from Umnak, John Galaktianoff, Stephan Krukof, Stephan Bezezekof, Matfey Pobvorof, Andrebik S Krukof, and George A Krukof.  Bishop Antonin Pokrovsky was the only passenger to survive the wreck along with three native hunters. The Bishop’s legs and feet were said to have been completely frozen. The Umnak Native was also carrying $3,815 worth of furs and general merchandise.  The vessel had a value of $12,000 which was a total loss along with her cargo.  The vessel was not insured but the cargo was fully insured.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   53 18 N 168 25 W   Chart 16011

Comment: A newspaper article from the period mentions that Bishop Antonin, the ranking Bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska as the 13th casualty in this disaster. Bishop Antonin survived. Also 100 blue fox pups were mentioned as being on board.

Additional Information: Tonnage 49 Gross 33 Net, Length 59.2, Breadth 16.5, Depth 7.8, Built 1929 at Seattle WA, HP 75, Registered Juneau, ON 228207, Master John Stankus of Unalaska, Owner Umnak Native Community of Umnak

Sources: 1. U S C G Report of Casualty May 20, 1933 at Unalaska by Larry Stepetin, Seaman, 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1932) Pgs 556-7, 3. San Diego Evening Tribune (February 13, 1933) “13 Die on Ship in Storm as Trio Saved” Page Nine

UNIMAK (1976)     The 86 foot power scow fishing vessel Unimak was consumed by fire December 15, 1976 in the Bering Sea. The fire was extinguished and vessel salvaged. She was towed to Seattle and rebuilt with a new house and other superstructure.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska Unknown

Comment: This vessel was rebuilt and returned to fishing in Alaska but may been lost near Cape Providence some time later. WG

Sources: 1. BOEM Alaska Shipwreck List (2011), 2. Crewmember communications, alaskashipwreck.com (March April 2016)

 

UNKNOWN 2 MASTED VESSEL (1762)     An abandoned 2 masted foreign island ship is mentioned in a report by the Cossack Savin T Ponomarev and the promyshlennik Stephan G Glotov dated September 12, 1762 concerning their discovery of new islands in the Aleutian Chain.  The inhabitants of Unalaska and Umnak reported seeing the vessel on Chikhmil Island.

Mapping and Location: Unknown South Central or Southwest Alaska

Source: Russian Penetration of the North Pacific Ocean 1700-1797 (1988) Pg 222

UNKNOWN JAPANESE JUNK AND UNKNOWN RUSSIAN VESSEL (1784)     The following is an excerpt from a letter written February 26, 1791 to Count Aleksandr R Vorontsov by Kyrill Laksman detailing the plight of Japanese castaways rescued in the Aleutians by Russian Promyshlenniks:

“On December 13, 1783, seventeen Japanese men sailed out from the town of Shiroko to trade in the capitol city of Yedo.  At the halfway point of their voyage they, like many similar vessels, stopped to spend the night in Semioda Bay.  During a violent windstorm another vessel hit them and broke off their rudder.  Without the rudder they had to cut the mast, and thus they drifted at the mercy of the waves for more than seven months, drifting in various directions.  At last on July 20, 1784 they came to the Aleutian Island of Amisachka where they dropped anchor and went ashore in a small boat.  They found seven Aleut men there who were hunting wild geese.  The Aleuts invited the five Japanese into their earthen iurts and gave them cooked goose and fish to eat.  Toward evening Russian promyshlenniks came to the island from a vessel which had been wrecked on the island, a vessel which belonged to the Totma merchant, Khodilov.  The Russians went to the Japanese vessel and spent the night in a cabin on shore, but during the night there was a storm at sea and the anchor broke away on some sharp rocks underwater.  The ship was cast adrift and then was wrecked on the coast.  Thus, deprived of their last hope, the men had to remain on that island for three years and a month, during which time the Russian promyshlenniks used planks from their wrecked vessel, and the remains of the Japanese vessel, which had been built of redwood and camphor, to build a new vessel.  In September of 1787 they took the remaining nine Japanese men with them to Nizhnekamchatsk ostrog.  Seven of the Japanese had died while they were on the Aleutian Island, and an eighth was killed during a storm at sea”

There are multiple historic references to a wrecked Japanese junk in the Rat Islands of the Aleutians in the early 1780’s.  All attribute the presence of rats and the name of the islands to the wreck.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   51 48 N 178 19 E   Chart 16011

Comment: I have taken the liberty of charting this wreck at Rat Island.  The original landing was likely at Amchitka Island.  WG

Source: Russian Penetration of the North Pacific Ocean 1700-1797 (1988) Pg 401-412

UNKNOWN BRITISH VESSEL (1847)     A large unknown British vessel was wrecked on the southwest coast of Saint Paul Island in 1847 as it was coming in to anchor off Zapadni Point.  The name English Bay derives from this wreck.

Mapping and Location:  Southwest Alaska   57 08 30 N 170 18 30 W   Chart 16382

Source: Dictionary of Alaska Place Names (1967) English Bay Pg 315

UNKNOWN JUNK (1851)     An unknown Japanese junk was lost on Atka Island in 1851.  Only three of those aboard survived the wreck.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   52 07 N 174 30 W   Chart 16012

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

UNKNOWN JAPANESE VESSEL (1862)     In September of 1862 and unknown Japanese vessel, possibly a junk, wrecked at Attu Island.  Of the 12 crewmen, 9 were lost in the disaster.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   52 55 N 172 55 E   Chart 16012

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

UNKNOWN JUNK (1869)     An unknown junk washed up on Adak Island in April of 1869.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   51 45 N 176 45 W   Chart 16012

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

UNKNOWN JUNK (1871)     An unknown junk wrecked at Attu Island in 1871.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   52 55 N 172 55 E   Chart 16012

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

UNKNOWN JAPANESE VESSEL (1872)     An unknown Japanese vessel wrecked at Adak in 1872.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   51 45 N 176 45 W   Chart 16012

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

UNKNOWN JAPANESE SEALER (1909)     An unknown Japanese seal hunting vessel was lost in 1909 in the Pribilof Islands.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   57 N 170 W   Chart 16011

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

URAGIO MARU (1943)     The 3,110 ton Japanese cargo ship Uragio Maru was sunk by U S aircraft April 4, 1943 in Kiska Harbor.  The vessel had been badly damaged and four crewmembers killed in an American attack December 31, 1942.  January 4, 1943 a violent storm destroyed the cargo ship further and the Uragio Maru was abandoned.  The U S bombing raid of April 4, 1943 was the end of the Uragio Maru.  The hulk of the vessel is still on site.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   51 58 N 177 34 E   Chart 16012

Sources: 1. BOEM Alaska Shipwreck List (2011), 2. Pacificwrecks.com (2013) “Urajio Maru (Uragio Maru)”

VIKING KING (1971)     The 87 foot crab fishing vessel Viking King swamped and sank September 3, 1971 off of Akun Island near Unalaska.  Two of the four crewmembers on board were lost; John P Aus (40) and Sam Swenning (45), both from Seattle.  Two of John Aus’ sons, David (21) and Donald (20) survived by clinging to an overturned life raft until they reached the shore.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   54 11 N 165 32 W   Chart 16011

Sources: 1. BOEM Alaska Shipwreck List (2011), 2. Anchorage Daily News (September 10, 1971) “Fishing mishaps kill four” Pg 2

 

VIKING ROVER (1977)     The 85 foot 180 ton oil screw shrimp fishing vessel Viking Rover foundered March 1, 1977 at 54 01.79 N 165 31.02 W.  The vessel lost steerage 43 miles south of Cape Sarichef, became disabled and sank in rough weather.  40 to 50 knot winds and 16 foot seas were reported in the area.  All four crewmen were rescued by a U S C G helicopter from Kodiak.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   54 01.79 N 165 31.02 W   Chart 16006

Comment: These coordinates put the loss near Rootok Island east of Dutch Harbor. WG

Additional Information: Tonnage 180 Gross, Built 1973, ON 552632

Sources: 1. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1978) “Vessels Reported Lost” Pg 2120, 2. BOEM Alaska Shipwreck List (2011), 3. Seattle Times (March 3, 1977) “4 Rescued near Alaska as Shrimp Boat Sinks” Pg D 4

 

VITANIC (1967)     The 131 ton 79 foot wooden oil screw fishing vessel Vitanic was destroyed by fire October 16, 1967 at Chernofski.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   53 24 30 N 167 33 W   Chart 16500

Additional Information: Tonnage 131 Gross 67 Net, Length 79.1, Breadth 22.1, Depth 10.4, Built 1944 at Tacoma, Horsepower 400, SL WB4244, Owner Rainier Boat Company, Registered Juneau, ON 246018

Sources: 1. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1965) Pg 729, 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1968) “Vessels Reported Lost” Pg 1177

 

WAKAMIYA MARU (1794)     The Japanese vessel Wakamiya Maru out of Sendai, Japan, was broken up by waves while at anchor in Unalga Pass, Biorka Island in 1794.  15 survivors of the wreck were brought to Unalaska and then taken to Okhotsk by Russians.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   53 58 N 166 14 W   Chart 16011

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

WANICK (1919)     The 18 ton 49 foot gas screw towing vessel Wanick stranded and was lost at Lost Harbor August 10, 1919.  There was no loss of life.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   54 13 45 N 165 36 30 W   Chart 16520

Comment: Lost Harbor was the site of a sulphur mine in the 1920’s.  WG

Additional Information: Tonnage 18 Gross 12 Net, Length 48.9, Breadth 11.9, Depth 5.2,  HP 45, Built 1914 at Burton WA, Registered Seattle, ON 212076

Sources: 1. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1922) “Vessels Reported Lost” Pg 453, 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1919) Pg 340, 3. Dictionary of Alaska Place Names (1971) “Lost Harbor” Pg 597

WEBSTER (1890)     The vessel Webster was lost at Atka Island in 1890.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   52 07 N 174 30 W   Chart 16012

Source: Shipwrecks of the Alaskan Shelf and Shore 1992

 

WESTERN CLIPPER (1964)     The 125 ton 78 foot wooden oil screw fishing vessel Western Clipper stranded and was lost February 17, 1964 on the beach at Atka.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   52 12 N 174 12 W   Chart 16012

Additional Information: Tonnage 125 Gross 63 Net, Length 78.7, Breadth 22.1, Depth 10.2, Built 1939 at Tacoma WA, Horsepower 240, SL WB4400, Owner Trans-Pacific Fishing and Packing Company, Registered Seattle, ON 238723

Sources: 1. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1964) Pg 714, 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1965) “Vessels Reported Lost” Pg 1006

 

WESTERN VENTURE (2013)     The 59 foot steel fishing vessel Western Venture burned and sank in Tanaga Pass October 20, 2013. A fire originating in the forepeak quickly spread aft forcing the five person crew to abandon ship in survival suits to a liferaft. The Western Venture was consumed by flames and sank. An EPIRB registered to the Western Venture activated and signaled the U S Coast Guard who immediately broadcast an Urgent Marine Bulletin to vessels in the area. The crew was rescued eight hours later by Good Samaritan vessel Aleutian Beauty.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   51 38 N 178 20 W   Chart 16012

Additional Information: Tonnage 52 Gross 27 Net, Length 50.6, Breadth 18.2, Depth 8.9, Built 1973 Lodi CA, ON 561511, Call Sign WYP8624, Former Name Zenith

Sources: 1. USCG News Release (Oct. 21, 2013), 2. USCG MISLE Case # 660581, 3. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1979) Pg 1683

 

WESTPORT (1936)     The 116 ton 88 foot whaling steamer Westport ran aground at Akutan Island and was lost at 8:45 p.m. Monday September 14, 1936.  The vessel departed Akutan September 13, 1936 bound for the whaling grounds in the Bering Sea with 12 officers and crewmen aboard.  The following are excerpts from the casualty report:

“Fresh easterly wind, mist, heavy sea and gale blowing, night was coming on”  “Gunner was with Captain on Bridge as a lookout”  “Vessel ran aground reef”  “Reef Bight, Akutan Island, Alaska”  “Coast Guard cutter Daphne picked up crew and brought them to Akutan Whaling Station.  Coast Guard Cutter Chelan brought crew to Seattle”  “Total loss”

The Westport had a value of $59,000 and was a total loss.  The Westport was insured for $25,000.  There was no cargo aboard.  There was no loss of life.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   54 07 45 N 166 06 W   Chart 16520

Additional Information: Tonnage 116 Gross 59 Net, Length 88, Breadth 19, Depth 11.5, Built 1912 at Seattle WA, IHP 350, Registered Seattle, ON 209877, Master Captain N Schroeder of Seattle, Owner American Pacific Whaling Company of Bellevue WA

Sources: 1. U S Coast Guard Report of Casualty October 13, 1936 at Seattle by Johanna B Olson, Accountant for American Pacific Whaling Company, 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1936) Pgs 174-5

WHITE CAP (1961)     The 31 ton 44 foot wooden oil screw fishing vessel White Cap burned April 25, 1961 near Fox Island in the Aleutians.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   Unknown

Additional Information: Tonnage 31 Gross 21 Net, Length 44, Breadth 13.5, Depth 7.9, Built 1948 at Seattle WA, Horsepower 165, SL WB7848, Owner William Wesley Bones, Registered Portland OR, ON 255486

Sources: 1. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1960) Pg 612, 2. Merchant Vessels of the U S (1962) “Vessels Reported Lost” Pg 905

 

WINTHROP (1909)     The 14 ton 37 foot wooden gas screw Winthrop stranded and was lost on Nunivak Island October 31, 1909.  The vessel departed Saint Michael October 17, 1909 with two crewmen aboard bound for Nelson Island.  They were carrying a 20 ton cargo of general merchandise valued at $2,500.  The following are excerpts from the wreck report submitted by I Albert Lee, master and owner of the Winthrop:

“High wind and ice, stormy”  “Nunivak Island, Alaska”  “Stranding”  “Adverse winds”  “Anchors put overboard, but vessel drifted ashore”

Hugh Mowatt and Thomas Thompson were aboard the Winthrop when it left Saint Michael. The two were business partners in a trading venture. Thomas Thompson was knocked overboard and lost three days before the Winthrop washed ashore in a storm. Hugh Mowatt was marooned on Nunivak and eventually taken in by local Natives where he survived for eight months before being rescued.

The Winthrop had a value of $2,500 and was a total loss along with her cargo.  There was no insurance.

Mapping and Location: West central Alaska   60 N 166 W   Chart 16006

Additional Information: Tonnage 14 Gross 9 Net, Length 36.9, Breadth 12.5, Depth 4.4, Built 1903 at Saint Michael, Service freight, Registered Saint Michael, ON 200280, Master and owner I Albert Lee of Saint Michael

Sources: 1. U S Customs Wreck Report July 19, 1910 at Saint Michael, 2. The Seattle Sunday Times (August 28, 1910) “Bering Sea Cruise Comes to Tragic End” Pg 21

WORDEN (1943)     The 341 foot Navy destroyer Worden struck a pinnacle and sank January 12, 1943 south of Kirilof Point on Amchitka Island.  The vessel was shoved by the current onto a pinnacle which punctured her hull and flooded the engine room.  Powerless the destroyer began breaking up on the rocky shore.  14 of 189 crewmembers perished in the 20 foot seas and 36 degree waters while attempting to abandon ship. Included in the missing and lost were Seaman 1st Class Leland Floyd Bass, USNR Susanville, CA; Electrician’s Mate Third Class John Alfred Anderson, USN, Priest River, ID; Electrician’s Mate Third Class Don Avery Blue, USNR, Cleveland, TX; Fireman First Class Keith Leonard Briley, USN Beaumont, TX; Radioman Third Class Robert William Kieser, USN, Denver, CO; Seaman First Class Francis Dewey Musgrave Jr., USN, Sinclair, WY; Fireman First Class William Frederick Reddeman, USN, Chicago, IL; Fireman Second Class Leo Lester Schultz, USN, Monroe, MI; Seaman First Class Stephen Stanley Seltz, USNR, Tracy, MN; Seaman First Class Harvey John Senne, USN, Fairmont, MN; Fireman Second Class Willard Edwin Shinabery, USN, Bellevue, OH; Fireman Third Class Jerome Joseph Wolshock, USN, Chester, IL;  Water Tender First Class Charles Frederick Wood, USN, Gloversville, NY; Seaman First Class John Harris Wright, USNR, East St. Louis, MO.

Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska   51 25 15 N 179 17 50 E   Charts 16012, 16440

Sources: 1. BOEM Alaska Shipwreck List (2011), 2. U.S.S. WORDEN DD 352 at dd352.us (2017)

 

 

2 Replies to “South West Alaska Shipwrecks ( U-V-W )”

  1. I am looking for information on the whaling ship Westport and her sinking along with her crew list. I am also looking for any information on the company after 1934.

    Thank you,

    Don Benson

    1. The most complete accounting of the activities of the Westport and the American Pacific Whaling Company can be found in the William S Lagen Papers 1894-2002. The collection can be found at the University of Washington Library in Seattle. It is Collection #2292. William S Lagen was a Bellevue Washington businessman and the collection of his papers includes detailed information on Consolidated Whaling, North Pacific Sea Products and American Pacific Sea Products. The activities of the Westport and her activities out of the company whaling station in Akutan are included. There were several steamers named Westport during that time period including a 124 foot wooden Westport (built 1888-ON 81188) out of San Francisco, a 125.6 foot wooden Westport (built 1911-ON 208731) out of Boston. The Westport lost off of Akutan was an 88 foot steel steamer (built 1912-ON 209877). She was fitted for burning oil which the others weren’t.

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