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.
Description: Steel hulled tanker
Dimensions: length - Length 206.8 feet; width 35.6 feet; depth 16.8 feet
Tonnage: 1,111 (gross); 636 (net)
Propulsion: Oil screw
Machinery: built as four cylinder Bolinder diesel engine (Lloyds 1922), later replaced with six cylinder Pacific Diesel engine (Lloyd’s 1931)
Cargo: 1,100 barrels of oil
Date Sunk: June 10, 1930
Cause: Collision with the passenger liner Fairfax
Location: 6 miles east of Fourth Cliff, Marshfield
Coordinates: Latitude 42° 09’ 18” N; Longitude 70° 33’ 48” W
On June 10, 1930, in the midst of an extraordinarily dense fog, the Pinthis collided with the Fairfax on the banks of the Fall River, MA. The Fairfax struck the tanker on the starboard side, the impact resulting in fiery oil explosions that killed the entire Pinthis crew and set the liner’s passengers on fire. In less than twenty minutes, the tanker capsized and sank. Attempting to put out the flames, the Fairfax passengers caught in the explosion jumped into the ocean with or without lifejackets, only to be burned to death by the flaming oil on the water’s surface. There were 47 reported deaths, 19 from the Pinthis and 28 from the Fairfax. A detailed report of the resulting court case can be found in Shipwrecks of Massachusetts Bay by Thomas Hall.
Dive Site Conditions
Depth in feet: 84 ft.
Visibility in feet: 10 ft.
Today the remains of the Pinthis reside upside down in 84 feet of water and mostly intact. It has 30 feet of relief, but the hull is starting to break down and collapse.
Constructed: Newburg, New York, launched November 1919
Construction details: Built by Tanker S.B. Corporation, Hull No. 113. Machinery aft. Longitudinal frames. Wireless equipped (1921). Electric lights.
Crew: 19; Master: Albert Jones
Owners: Tank Ship Building Co, leased by the Shell Oil Co.
Home or Hailing Port: Fall River, MA
The Pinthis was originally owned by Sugar Products Company, transporting molasses. The Pinthis-Fairfax wreck is considered to be the most significant loss of life within the Massachusetts Bay.
Artifacts previously recovered from the wreck include a steam whistle and a porthole. These objects are currently on display at the Maritime and Irish Mossing Museum in Scituate.
Caldwell, D. (2009, Fall/Winter). The Pinthis - Forty-Seven Lost in Massachusetts Bay (H. Knowles, Ed.). The Lookout Newsletter, 3, 1-2.
Hall, T. (2012). Shipwrecks of Massachusetts Bay. Charleston, SC: History Press.
Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, Steamers & Motorships, 1921-22 (1922). London (UK): Lloyd’s Register.
Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, Steamers & Motorships, 1930-31 (1931). London (UK): Lloyd’s Register.
Paul Sherman Collection on file with the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources, Boston, MA.
Snow, E.R., & D’Entremont, J. (2003). Storms and Shipwrecks of New England. Beverly, MA: Commonwealth Editions.