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Dixie Sword

Find information on this shipwreck and dive site managed by the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources (BUAR).

BUAR classifies certain shipwrecks and other underwater archaeological resources as "Exempted Sites" for a variety of reasons, including (but not limited to): commonly known location, previous salvage, recreational value, educational value, or lack of significant archaeological or historical value. Recreational diving activities on these sites, including casual artifact collection, do not require a BUAR permit. However, any major disruption of the site is prohibited. The intent of creating an exempted shipwreck site is to preserve such sites for the continued enjoyment of the recreational diving community, who is encouraged to protect these sites for the continued enjoyment of all.

Note: All dives are conducted at your own risk. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts accepts no responsibility for loss of any kind, including personal injury or property damage. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts assumes no liability for inaccuracies in dive information contained in these pages including site locations and dive conditions.

Vessel Details

Description: freighter, steel.
Dimensions: length 324 ft., width 46.2 ft., depth 25 ft.
Tonnage: gross 3,283.
Propulsion: Steam, propeller.
Machinery: 1,500 shaft horse power, double reduction geared turbine; 2, oil fired Babcock and Wilcox Co., water tube boilers; cast iron hubbed, bronze bladed propeller.
Cargo: 5,000 tons, zinc and copper ore.

The Shipwreck

Date Sunk: February 12, 1942.
Cause: foundered.
Location: Monomoy, off Butler Hole, in the vicinity of buoy "R 8".
Coordinates: latitude N; longitude W.
Loran: 13883.4 and 43902.2.

The paper trail leading to the demise of the Dixie Sword is scant at best. Lost in the early months of the World War II, the vessel received no press coverage. It was rumored that the Dixie Sword was torpedoed off Nantucket and sank while attempting to make shallow water. This story probably arose from the fact that news of the sinking was withheld from publication so as not to alarm the general public.

Official reports state the vessel foundered in a storm. Caught in heavy seas off Nantucket, the freighter began to take on water. In an attempt to make the safety of Nantucket Sound, its Captain steered toward shore but the vessel fouled a buoy in Pollock Rip Channel and sank off Butler Hole, Monomoy.

Dive Site Conditions

Depth in feet: maximum 32, minimum.
Visibility in feet: average.

In the 1960s, noted wreck diver and author, Brad Luther wrote of many dives on the wreck. At that time much of the vessel remained above the sand, although most of its compartments had been filled. Today, MetroWest Dive Club member, Pete Reagan, has done numerous drift dives in the area of the wreck and reports that the vessel is completely sanded over.

Historical Background

Constructed: in 1919, at Newark, N.J. by Submarine Boat Corporation.
Construction details: 1 continuos steel deck, 2nd deck at each end of ship; 6 watertight bulkheads to the freeboard deck, 1 watertight bulkhead to 2nd deck; 5 hatches measuring 29'3'X18'; 4 cargo holds measuring 58 feet.
Crew: 37; Master:.
Owners: Sword S.S. Line.
Home or Hailing Port: New York, N.Y.
Former Name(s) and date(s): Continental Bridge (1919), Point Fermin (1926), Florida (1937).
Official number: 218945. Country: U.S.A.
Other Comments: Yard No. 69; Originally built for the United States Shipping Board; Purchased by Sword S.S. Line at U.S Marshal's sale, 1937, renamed Dixie Sword.


Treacherous currents made early salvage difficult. Unlike many other New England wrecks, the Dixie Sword's hull was not blown up for it's metal content. 1988-89 (?) - David Morreau of Dunn Corner, R.I., purchased salvage rights to the vessels cargo from the underwriters "Cargo Salvage Corp." of New York, for 10% of what was recovered.


Boston Globe; February 10, 1989
New England Shipwrecks; Luther, 1967
Ten Years at Ten Fathoms; Luther
The Record, "American Lloyds," American Bureau of Shipping; 1940
The Sun, Westerly, R.I.; February 14, 1989
University of Baltimore Library, S.S.H.S.A Collection.

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