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Wreck of the SS "William H. Machen" found after 75 years

A group of American divers managed to locate and identify the wreck of the SS “William H. Machen”, which sank in the summer of 1942. The vessel was sailing with a coal shipment from Norfolk, Virginia, to Portland, Maine, when it collided with the ship “The Stirling”. As a result of the damage sustained, the
Published: January 9, 2018 - 13:44
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 16:19
Wreck of the SS “William H. Machen” found after 75 years

A group of American divers managed to locate and identify the wreck of the SS “William H. Machen”, which sank in the summer of 1942. The vessel was sailing with a coal shipment from Norfolk, Virginia, to Portland, Maine, when it collided with the ship “The Stirling”.

As a result of the damage sustained, the “William H. Machen” sank, but all crew members were able to be rescued. Today Jeff Goodreau and Ryan King opened the pages of the last chapter in the steamer’s history.

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The two men started their search back in 2014 and for the next 3 years they thoroughly analysed the available information, leading the search for the missing wreck. Finally, luck smiled on them in the summer of 2017, when 15 Mm off the coast of Portsmouth, they came across the wreck of an unknown vessel at a depth of over 90 meters.

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[blockquote style=”2″]”We have dedicated the last 3 years of our lives to the search for this wreck. It all started a year earlier, though, when we were in Portland looking for the wreck of the Eagle 56. It was then that one of my friends mentioned that the Machen still rests undiscovered off the coast of New Hampshire,” Ryan King recalls.”[/blockquote]

There was very little information on the internet about the steamer that sank in 1942, so it became necessary to check archives in Baltimore, Washington DC and the local Portsmouth Herald newspaper.

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[blockquote style=”2″]”We found the story of the wreck extremely interesting, because everything seemed to have just been forgotten. It was a collision between two large vessels from which everyone came out unscathed, so nobody made a big deal out of it, especially as it was 1942 and the war was on,” King explains.[/blockquote]

The wreck of the SS “William H. Machen” lies on its side quite heavily buried in the bottom. During the exploration the team managed to find, among other things, items signed with the logo of the Pocahontas Steamship Company. One of the most interesting finds was a clock with a serial number, which made it possible to trace its history back to the factory where it was made in Chelsea, Massachusetts.

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To date, the search team has managed to collect a considerable amount of data on the vessel itself and its owner, the Pocahontas Steamship Company of Boston, but information on the sinking itself and on the crew members of the SS William H. Machen and their relatives is still being sought.

[blockquote style=”2″]”We would like to know a little more about the sinking of the vessel itself, which does not seem to be documented anywhere, other than the information that it took place. We hope to have more time this winter to search for the families of the crew. Forgotten family histories are probably the only place we can look for what interests us.” – stated Ryan King[/blockquote].

Source: ryankingunderwaterphoto.com

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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