Ship found at bottom of harbour
Discovery made in June of mystery vessel
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.”
Canadian Hydrographic Service hydrographers Sarah Rahr and Jon Griffen look over images of a mysterious wreck found on the bottom of Pictou Harbour.