|Mass.Gov Home Page||State Agencies||State A-Z Topic List|
Description: freighter, wood.
Date Sunk: April 6, 1923.
It was the "Roaring-20s"; the 18th Amendment was fours years old and prohibition was making the depression all the more depressing. This was the era of speak-easys, bathtub-gin and rum-running. Hooch-laden vessels from Canada would wait, just outside of U.S. Territorial waters, for the cover of darkness or fog when American craft would load the liquid cargo and run it into some deserted stretch of coastline to be sold at a healthy profit.
VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass., April 6 - "When a heavy fog which had prevailed for hours lifted today, the Cuttyhunk coast gaurds sighted a vessel about 150 feet long, apparently a steam trawler, flying what appeared to be distress signals. As they watched, the craft suddenly sank."
This was the story reported in the New York Times. It was assumed the crew-abandoned ship after a collision in the fog. The vessel's lifeboat davits were swung out, indicating the boats had been launched, but no word of its crew landing or of a collision was forthcoming.
John Dwight's demise has to this day, remained a mystery. Some weeks before the vessel sank, two captains, giving false names, showed up at Newport, Rhode Island, saying there had been a change in the steamers' ownership. Laid up for the winter, the John Dwight was previously employed in the salvage of coal from sunken barges. More men soon arrived bringing the crew to somewhere between 8 to 15 and the steamer was extensively overhauled. The vessel left Newport, giving as its destination New York, but instead it anchored in Buzzards Bay.
Dive Site Conditions
Depth in feet: maximum 85.
Strong currents and poor visibility often make this a difficult dive.
Constructed: in 1896 at Tomkins Cove, New York by the Roderman & Company.
The first report of salvage operations is found in the May 2, 1923 New York Maritime Register; April 30th - preparations were being made in Vineyard Haven to find the wreck of the John Dwight. The salvage contract was on the "No Cure, No Pay" basis. The next Register update was found in the July 4, 1923 edition; June 27th - Navy divers from the minesweeper USS Falcon were preparing to begin diving operations on the wreck as soon as the weather permitted. Another source reported that once it was determined that the steamer was carrying a contraband cargo, it was flattened by dynamite in order to prevent salvage.