The Telegram (St. John's)

New an­swers about sunken ships

Sunken whal­ing ves­sels in Con­cep­tion Har­bour iden­ti­fied by ship­wreck so­ci­ety

- BY JOSH PENNELL Travel · Newfoundland and Labrador · Conception Harbour

It’s a sit­u­a­tion where tak­ing the mys­tery out some­thing ac­tu­ally makes it more in­trigu­ing. Three sunken ships along the shore in Con­cep­tion Har­bour have now been iden­ti­fied af­ter decades of un­cer­tainty thanks to the Ship­wreck Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety of New­found­land and Labrador.

The SS South­ern Foam, SS Sukha and SS Char­cot were part of a fleet of five whal­ing ships owned by the Hawke Har­bour Whal­ing Co. The ships re­mained at the dock for many years and were in­tended for scrap but sim­ply wasted away and sank just off­shore.

The town of Con­cep­tion Har­bour has been de­vel­op­ing the site of the ship­wrecks as a tourist at­trac­tion, es­pe­cially for divers who can ac­cess the wrecks rel­a­tively eas­ily. Craig Wil­liams, mayor of the town, says they asked the Ship­wreck So­ci­ety to map out the sunken ves­sels for them, and had no idea they were go­ing to iden­tify the ships.

Hav­ing that in­for­ma­tion adds far more cred­i­bil­ity to what the town is try­ing to do with its har­bour, says Wil­liams. It will al­low it to fur­ther de­velop its web­site and sto­ry­boards. Also, ships of known name and his­tory can be read about by po­ten­tial div­ing tourists.

Neil Burgess with the so­ci­ety says the group knew there were five whal­ing ships built in the 1920s, and that they had been in Con­cep­tion Har­bour through the 1960s.

“The thing that made it a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult with th­ese ship­wrecks is that a lot of the gear was taken off them be­fore they sank,” he says.

So the team did a lot of div­ing, took a lot of mea­sure­ments and took a lot of pic­tures.

It then com­pared its mea­sure­ments with the specs that came from the ship­yards where the ves­sels were built. In this way, the team could iden­tify which sunken ship was which.

As it turned out, one of the ships — the Char­cot, which par­tially sticks out of the wa­ter — was long thought to be the S.S Sposa. The Sposa was also in the whal­ing fleet along with the S.S Soika, but those two sank some­where fur­ther out in Con­cep­tion Har­bour as they were be­ing towed to the scrap­yard.

“No­body knows where they are,” says Burgess.

He also says the so­ci­ety is hop­ing to be able to use sonar to lo­cate the Sposa and Soika and see if it’s possi- ble to dive to them, as well. Such a find would fur­ther the ef­forts of the town to de­velop a tourist at­trac­tion for divers.

It’s an idea that not every­body has bought into, es­pe­cially when it comes to the Char­cot which sticks out of the wa­ter.

“A lot of peo­ple look at the wreck — the one that’s out of the wa­ter — as an eye­sore, and don’t un­der­stand the po­ten­tial,” says Wil­liams.

There were sug­ges­tions to tow it out fur­ther and sink it com­pletely.

The wreck is one of the most pho­tographed wrecks in the prov­ince and now, with the new in­for­ma­tion uncovered by the Ship­wreck Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety, it and the other wrecks again have names and trace­able his­to­ries.

 ?? — Sub­mit­ted pho­tos cour­tesy of Neil Burgess ?? The SS Char­cot wreck above the wa­ter in Con­cep­tion Har­bour. The ship was al­ways thought to be the SS Sposa un­til iden­ti­fied as the Char­cot by the Ship­wreck Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety.
— Sub­mit­ted pho­tos cour­tesy of Neil Burgess The SS Char­cot wreck above the wa­ter in Con­cep­tion Har­bour. The ship was al­ways thought to be the SS Sposa un­til iden­ti­fied as the Char­cot by the Ship­wreck Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety.
 ??  ?? Ship­wreck Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety mem­bers learn how to sur­vey wrecks in a pool. From left, they are Cas Dob­bin, Cur­tis Knee and Tony Merkle.
Ship­wreck Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety mem­bers learn how to sur­vey wrecks in a pool. From left, they are Cas Dob­bin, Cur­tis Knee and Tony Merkle.

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