Description: freighter.
Dimensions: length 350 ft., width 47 ft., depth 17.2 ft.
Tonnage: gross 3668.
Propulsion: steam, propeller.
Machinery: (1) 3 cylinder triple expansion engine, cylinder diameters 25.5", 41", 68" with a stroke of 48", 353 nominal horsepower; 3 single ended steel boilers, 9 plain furnaces.
Cargo: general cargo including ingots of bronze and tin, bronze ingots marked "Ajax Maganese Bronze - Cowles Patent 11.26.1889"; 300 crates of bottles.

The Shipwreck

Date Sunk: January 22, 1906.
Cause: collision.
Location: southwest of Cuttyhunk.
Coordinates: latitude 41° - 22' - 33" N; longitude 71° - 00' - 58" W.
Loran: 14291.4 and 43921.4.

Prior to the construction of the Cape Cod Canal, Vineyard Sound was a crossroads of east-west shipping along the New England coast. Although protected from the sea's fury by Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Islands, its western entrance was only three miles wide, which, in restricted visibility before the invention of radar, was like a hair's breadth.

Late in the morning of January 22, 1906, a dense fog shut in the southern coast of Massachusetts. Enroute from Philadelphia to Boston, the freighter Trojan was moving at reduced speed through the gray shrouded mist with extra lookouts posted. All hands strained to hear the tell-tale sounds of an approaching steamer or surf breaking on shore. Moments earlier, Captain Thatcher had passed the Vineyard Sound Lightship and knew that attempting the western entrance to Vineyard Sound in this fog would be hazardous at best. The prudent course of action would be to anchor until the fog lifted. After the Captain's order of "all stop", Trojan had not yet lost headway when lookouts spotted the prow of another steamer shoot out of the fog to port.

It was the liner Nacoochee, from Savannah, Georgia, also bound for Boston. Aboard the liner there was little time to react. Captain Diehl ordered both engines reversed, but the ship's momentum was to great and the great liner struck Trojan just aft of amidships. The force of the impact knocked the freighter's sleeping crew from their bunks. Trojan heeled so far to starboard that Captain Thatcher feared it might capsize. But Nacoochee's engines were still reversed and the two ships soon parted. However, the liner's steel shod prow had cut a huge hole in the freighter's side. Fearing that the other vessel would sink before its crew could be saved, Nacoochee's skipper ordered "full speed ahead." By a fine display of seamanship and daring, Captain Diehl pushed the bow of his vessel into the big hole in the Trojan's side and kept the vessel afloat until Captain Thatcher and all his crew of 27 men had scrambled aboard the Nacoochee. The Trojan went to the bottom in three quarters of an hour."

Although Captain Diehl's quick thinking probably saved the lives of many aboard Trojan, the Steamboat Inspection Service found that his use of poor judgement and lack of good seamanship in driving his vessel at high speed through the fog, was the cause of the accident. His license was suspended for 30 days.

Dive Site Conditions

Depth in feet: maximum 110.

With this vessel lying on a muddy bottom, visibility is usually poor. The hull forward of the boilers is mostly scattered debris. However, aft of the boilers the stern is partially intact and in some places the decking is in place.

Draggers' nets have fouled on portions of wreckage. As always, caution should be observed when exploring the wreck.

Historical Background

Constructed: year 1897, in Newcastle, United Kingdom by Tyne Iron S.B. Co. Ld.
Construction details: built as a collier; 1905 - converted to a freighter with the addition of a 'tween deck; 1 steel deck, iron spar deck; 6 cemented bulkheads; water ballasted with a cellular double bottom, aft; flat keel.
Crew: 27; Master: T.J. Thorkildson (1892-97); Captain Thatcher (1906).
Owners: S.S. Trojan Co. Ld. (E.C. Thin).
Home or Hailing Port: Liverpool.
Former Name(s) and date(s): Orion (1888-1905).
Official number: 106888. Country: U.K.
Other Comments: engine and boilers manufactured by N.E. Marine Co. Ld., Newcastle, U.K.

Salvage

The February 7, 1906, New York Maritime Register, reported that the tug Storm King and lighter Oak spent two days searching for the wreck but were unsuccessful. It wasn't until August that the lighthouse tender Verbena discovered Trojan's remains, which were then scheduled for destruction.

In 1972 sport divers recovered several tons of bronze and tin ingots.

Sources:

Fishable Wrecks and Rockpiles; Coleman & Soares, 1989
Lloyds Register of Shipping; 1903-04
New England's Legacy of Shipwrecks; Keatts, 1988
New York Maritime Register; January 24, February 7, August 8, 1906
New York Times; January 24, 1906