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Herman Winter

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, iron.
Dimensions: length 274.3 ft., width 41 ft., depth 31.3 ft.
Tonnage: gross 2,638, other.
Propulsion: steam, propeller.
Machinery: 2,500 indicated horsepower, 3 cylinder triple-expansion engine with cylinder diameters 23 inches, 39 inches, 66 inches and a stroke of 42 inches; 2, coal fired, Babcock and Wilcox Co., water tube boilers; solid bronze propeller.

The Shipwreck

Date Sunk: March 7, 1944.
Cause: stranded.
Location: Martha's Vineyard, under the cliffs of Gay Head.
Coordinates: latitude 41° 20.9' N; longitude 70° 50.5' W.

As so often is the case with World War II shipwrecks, news of the Herman Winter's demise was withheld from the general populace so as not to cause panic, should the loss be attributed to enemy action. As a result, information concerning this vessel's fate is very limited.

Dive Site Conditions

The broken remains of the Herman Winter can be found scattered over the rocky bottom directly in front of the Red Clay cliffs of Gay Head. To find the wreck form a right angle between the cliffs and the buoy marking the Devils Bridge, the reef where the steamer City of Columbus wrecked in 1884 with a great loss of life. According to author Brad Luther, the steamer's remains lie at the intersection of these two lines.

Historical Background

Constructed: in 1886, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by builder Wm. Cramp & Sons S.& E.B.Co.
Construction details: built of iron and steel; 3 decks; transverse framing; 4 watertight bulkheads to the freeboard deck; 4 hatches measuring 16'X20'; 2 holds measuring 92 ft.; fuel capacity, 482 tons of coal.
Owners: War Shipping Administration, Washington D.C.; Operator - Dichmann, Wright & Pugh, Inc.
Home or Hailing Port: New York, N.Y.
Official number: 95903. Country: U.S.A.
Other Comments: Wm. Cramp & Sons Hull Number 252; Babcock & Wilcox Co. boilers built in 1925.


Encyclopedia of American Shipwrecks; Berman, 1972
Merchant Vessels of the United States, Vessels Lost Chapter; 1945
New England Shipwrecks; Luther, 1967
The Record, "American Lloyds," American Bureau of Shipping; 1944

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