Thousands of probable shipwrecks off the coast of Massachusetts

According to Cape Cod National Coastover 1,000 shipwrecks are spread between our local waters and Provincetown.

Luxury ocean liners, pirate sloops, merchant ships, tugboats, pleasure boats and a plethora of others currently rest on the seabed. Most of the world’s estimated three million wrecks will never be found, but thanks to modern remote underwater technology, searching for wrecks is easier with Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) and vehicles remote-controlled (ROV).

Just last week a major discovery occurred when, battling sea ice and unimaginably cold temperatures, a team of explorers and researchers found Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship which sank in the Antarctica in 1915. After 107 years, the Endurance is exceptionally intact at 10,000 feet underwater.

This is the right time to remind our fellow citizens that the schooner Ernestina Morrisey, the official Commonwealth ship which is moored in New Bedford for part of the year, has also sailed within 600 miles of the North Pole and is the last of six remaining Essex-built schooners. Most notably, it was the last ship to bring immigrants to this region from the Cape Verde Islands.

Locally, the entrance to Buzzards Bay is cluttered with countless wrecks. In December 1908, the USS Yankee ran aground five miles from what is now the New Bedford hurricane barrier; fortunately, there was no loss of life. the Neponset was rammed and sunk in December 1927 just north of Penikese Island. the Colonel William B. Cowin struck Westport’s Hens and Chickens Reef and sank at the southern tip of Gooseberry Island.

Seven crew members were killed in 1944 when a Navy sweeper collided with the USS Richard Suessens off Mishaum Point in Dartmouth. The Vineyard Lightship sank about a mile east of Buzzards Bay Light in a hurricane, with the loss of the entire crew of 12.

You can discover many fascinating stories about our local waters, including two of the most notorious wrecks nearby: the HMCS St. Franciswhich in 1945 collided in fog while under tow, and the Angelaa cement barge that broke off its trailer during a storm and ran aground on a reef off Westport, according to the Westport Fisherman’s Association and the Westport Cultural Council, which have documented details of these and other wrecks local wrecks.

There’s a bunch of shipwrecks here waiting for you, and that doesn’t include the real ghost ships that have emerged from the sea – but we’ll cover that another time.

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