October-ganza 25: New England Disasters part 2 – the Sea

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October 25, 2014 by Bret Kramer (aka WinstonP)

Turning from land-based catastrophe, nautically focused New England has no shortage of oceanic disasters.  The examples provided below are a small sampling – see here, here , and here for more.


  • Survivors of the wreck of the Nottingham Galley (1710) at Boon Island Maine were driven to cannibalism.
  • The Whydah (1717); a pirate ship, wrecked off Cape Cod.  The surviving crewmen were executed in Boston for piracy.
  • The Royal Tar Fire (1838), off Vinalhaven Maine, involved the titular Royal Tar, and a boiler fire that took 32 lives and killed most of an animal menagerie being transported.
  • A period illustration

    A period illustration

    The Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse disaster – a newly-built stilt lighthouse off Scituate MA collapsed in a severe storm in 1851, killing two lighthouse keepers.

  • The SS Portland, sunk off Cape Ann in the (later dubbed) Portland Gale of 1898, killing all 192 passengers and crew, making it New England’s most deadly sinking.
  • The RMS Republic, stuck by another ship in 1909 off Nantucket.  Rumored to be full of secret Tsarist gold…
  • The SS Raifuku Maru, a Japanese freighter transporting grain from Boston to Hamburg that sank due to storm damage in April 1925.  At the time there were suggestions nearby ships could have done more to save the 38 sailors; later discussions focuses on dubious claims of UFOs.
  • The S-51, an American submarine, sunk off Block Island, RI, after being accidentally struck by a merchant ship in September 1925.
  • The S-4, another American submarine, also sunk in an accidental collision, this time off Cape Cod.  The ship was eventually raised and refitted in Boston.


So there you have it.  Whether by land or sea, New England wants to kill you.

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