Washington is certainly a maritime state but it’s not everyday that shipwrecks are discovered, especially shipwrecks that have been missing for almost 150 years. The wreck of the SS Pacific has finally been located by a team of local divers and historians. Here’s what we know after the over 30 year search.
If you’re not familiar with maritime history, the SS Pacific was an “876-ton side-wheel passenger steamship, 223 feet long and 33 feet six inches across the beam.” It was built in New York in 1850 and ran several routes during it’s lifespan including between the Isthmus of Panama and San Francisco before its fated route from Victoria, BC, to San Francisco.
On November 4th, 1875, the SS Pacific was preparing for it’s south bound journey when disaster quite literally struck. The sailing Vessel Orpheus crossed paths with the SS Pacific, striking it and ultimately causing the death of around 325 individuals according to the Northwest Shipwreck Alliance. To this day it is considered one of the worst maritime disasters both on the West Coast and nationally.
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For that reason, the boat holds great historical value and has been the interest of the president of Rockfish, Inc – Jeff Hummel for more than 30 years. Hummel along with Northwest Shipwreck Alliance President Matt McCauley and Northwest Shipwreck Alliance Director Duane Engle made the discovery this year and have plans to begin recovery on the wreckage as early as 2023.
Rockfish, Inc has been granted sole salvaging rights for the wreck and as such, certain details like what may be in the wreck as well as its exact location are not available to the public. That being said, it is known that the wreck is somewhere off the coast of Washington, sitting in over 1,000 metres of water. The discovery team used ROV’s to take samples and film the wreckage to determine that it was indeed the SS Pacific.
This discovery is already cool in itself but what makes it even better is that Hummel has a goal of creating a “floating maritime museum which would house the history of our passion and stories of the Pacific Northwest’s ocean-going commerce.” Right now, the team expects four seasons of recovery expeditions, making it quite the undertaking.
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