Ship found at bot­tom of har­bour

Dis­cov­ery made in June of mys­tery ves­sel

Cape Breton Post - - NEWS -

Sit­ting on the bot­tom of Pic­tou Har­bour is a 276-foot ship that no one seems to know any­thing about.

The dis­cov­ery was made June 22 by mem­bers of the Cana­dian Hy­dro­graphic Ser­vice (CHS), which is sur­vey­ing Pic­tou Har­bour as part of a pro­gram to up­grade Cana­di­ans ports and har­bours that haven’t been sur­veyed in years.

Jon Grif­fen, hy­dro­g­ra­pher in charge, said that find­ing the ship was a com­plete sur­prise to the crew that came across the huge wreck­age sit­ting in about 20 feet of wa­ter.

“There is no ques­tion there is some­thing down there,” he said, adding that the ship had 4.5 mil­lion sound­ings over it, con­sid­ered a strong read­ing by hy­dro­g­ra­phers.

The out­line of the bow and hull can be seen on the 3D im­ages trans­mit­ted to Grif­fen’s makeshift of­fice at the Cus­tom House in down­town Pic­tou.

“There is ob­vi­ously a bow and a draft,” he said, adding it has sat in mud and cur­rents over the years and doesn’t look to be bro­ken in the mid­dle. Su­per­struc­tures, such as masts or hous­ing quar­ters, also ap­pear to be ab­sent.

Grif­fen has yet to de­ter­mine how old the ship is, what it is made of or how long it has been on the bot­tom of Pic­tou Har­bour. How­ever, he said there is no record of it in any pre­vi­ous sur­veys. Some chart­ing was done in the 1950s, be­fore the con­struc­tion of the cause­way, and also in the 1980s. An online search for shipwrecks in Pic­tou Har­bour turned up noth­ing of the mys­tery ves­sel’s size or lo­ca­tion.

A sur­vey was also done by the CHS in 2009, but it con­cen­trated more on the chan­nel lead­ing into the har­bour.

Grif­fen said his field’s tech­nol- ogy has im­proved by leaps and bounds over the years — evolv­ing from lead drops to acous­tic sonar and 3D im­agery, im­prov­ing the chances of find­ing the wreck­age now com­pared to years ago. But he still con­sid­ers this an un­ex­pected find.

His crew is now tasked with re­port­ing it as a wreck­age to the Cana­dian Coast Guard and send­ing out an im­age so that mariners will be able to keep it in their notes for fu­ture ref­er­ence.

“If the wreck­age is sig­nif­i­cant enough, we may get a bet­ter ver­sion and print the chart with that in­for­ma­tion on it,” he said.

He said any­one in­ter­ested in spe­cific data on the wreck can pur­chase a printed pack­age from the Depart­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans.

“If they want to ex­plore it fur­ther, that is up to them. But it is their risk,” he said. “If they were to lift the wreck, they would need per­mis­sion and have to ad­vise the risk to mariners.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Cana­dian Hy­dro­graphic Ser­vice hy­dro­g­ra­phers Sarah Rahr and Jon Grif­fen look over im­ages of a mys­te­ri­ous wreck found on the bot­tom of Pic­tou Har­bour.

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