Description: collier, steel.
Dimensions: length 318.5 ft., width 49.5 ft., depth 24.2 ft.
Tonnage: gross 3372.
Propulsion: steam, propeller.
Machinery: (1), 3 cylinder triple expansion engine, cylinder diameters 21", 35", 58" with a stroke of 42", 1800 indicated horsepower.
Cargo: 5200 tons of coal.

The Shipwreck

Date Sunk: April 29, 1923.
Cause: foundered.
Location: Southwest of Cuttyhunk Island.
Coordinates: latitude 41° - 21' - 48.38" N; longitude 70° - 00' - 10.13" W.

"I will never sail on a Friday and never sail on the 13th again."- Captain Daniel J. Miller Jr., April 31, 1923

After loading coal for Boston, Massachusetts, the steamer Seaconnet departed Norfolk, Virginia. A gale began to blow as the vessel neared New England waters. For two days high winds, heavy seas and torrential rain hammered the five-year-old steamer, which soon developed a minor leak. At 4:00AM, April 29th, about a mile south of the Vineyard Sound Lightship, the minor leak became serious. Pounding seas opened the steamer's seams and water began pouring in. As his ship began to list to starboard Captain Miller ordered the water ballast tanks and bilges pumped overboard. However, the steamer continued to settle and list even further. In an attempt to stay the rising flood Miller ordered all hands to man the pumps and stoke the boilers. By 6:00 AM the men in the boiler room were working in water up to their waists as the pumps could not handle the inflow of water. At this time, Miller dispatched distress signals, which were received by the steamer City of Rome, about 15 miles away, and the Revenue Cutter Acushnet, nearby. So quickly did Seaconnet sink that neither vessel arrived in time to report more than floating wreckage. At 6:15AM Captain Miller ordered a lifeboat lowered over the starboard side. Passengers, Mr. and Mrs. Hudgins were put aboard along with five crewmen to man the boat. Shortly after casting free, the boat was carried away by the storm but managed to reach the nearby lightship. Within 20 minutes, seas were sweeping Seaconnet's decks and the smokestack was nearly parallel to the water's surface. Realizing his vessel was doomed Captain Miller ordered all hands on deck. There wasn't a minute to spare. At any moment the ship could capsize, trapping his men below decks. The order was given for all hands to don life jackets and abandon ship as the smokestack dipped below the waves and began taking on water. Tense moments followed as the second lifeboat jammed in its launching apparatus. It was quickly cut free only to capsize in the water. Fortunately it righted itself.

Captain Miller and Quartermaster John "Santy" Santiago held the bridge until the very end. "As the lifeboat turned over I ordered him to jump," said Miller. "Then I jumped myself. I grabbed a bit of wreckage and hung on looking for Santy. I saw him clinging to the ship's bottom as she started to go down. I tried to cry out to him, but my voice was smothered by the waves…the Seaconnet went down and I saw him no more."

There's some confusion as to how many lifeboats were involved in the rescue. One source reports that a single boat, with 23 people aboard, including one woman, reached the Vineyard Sound Lightship. Another source implies that the boat which first capsized was also used. Still another reported that one of the boats was picked up on Naushon Island, on May 3rd.

In all 7 men were lost, many pulled to their doom by the suction of their sinking ship.

Dive Site Conditions

Depth in feet: maximum 102, minimum 75.

In about 100 feet of water, the Seaconnet came to rest upside down but otherwise intact. The engine room is accessible through openings created where hull plates have fallen away. Divers report visibility to be poor necessitating the use of wreck reels to get back to the anchor line.

Historical Background

Constructed: in 1918, at Camden, New Jersey by New York S. B. Co.
Construction details: 1 deck; 7 bulkheads; water ballast.
Crew: 30; Master: Captain Daniel J. Miller Jr.
Owners: C.H. Sprague & Son.
Home or Hailing Port: Boston, Massachusetts.
Former Name(s) and date(s): Tuckahoe (1918).
Official number: 13349. Country: U.S.A.
Other Comments: The collier was built in record time for the war effort (26 days). Originally owned by the United States Shipping Board; engine & boilers built by New York S. B. Co.

Salvage

New York Maritime Register, May 9, 1923: May 3rd, "A lifeboat from the steamer Seaconnet was picked up on shore of Naushon Island today; no wreckage drifted ashore at Cuttyhunk. The bodies of five of the seven lost when the Seaconnet foundered were picked up and four of them were landed at New Bedford by the steamer Acushnet. Search was made to locate the wreck but without success."

Sources: 

The Fisherman, magazine; December 1987
Merchant Vessels of the United States, Vessels Lost Chapter; 1923
New York Maritime Register; May 2 & 9, 1923
New York Times; April 30, 31, 1923
West Wind Explorer; Peter Reagan, November, 1993
The Record, "American Lloyds," American Bureau of Shipping; 1923
Wrecks Below; Luther, 1958