True Stories Of Ships And The Men That Sailed Them

Within these links are stories and pictures of ships and the men and women that sailed them, many of them lost at sea or on the Great Lakes. For latest stories go to NEW site at


Mystery Loss Of British Submarine Affray

The 281-foot diesel/electric submarine Affray was on a simulated war operation when it foundered without warning in the English Channel taking its 28-year-old commander, Lt. John Blackburn and 74 other naval officers and British personnel to their deaths on April 16, 1951. Click For Story


Divers Find Wreck Of Roberval

A team of Great Lakes shipwreck researchers from Rochester, New York, recently found the remains of the Roberval, a small Canadian steamship that sank in Eastern Lake Ontario on September 25, 1916. The wreck is lying in about 300 feet of water about 15 miles off Oswego. The small 128-foot steamer was laden with lumber bound from Cape Vincent on the St. Lawrence River to the Diamond Match Company in Oswego when it was hit by high northwest winds when it entered Lake Ontario. Click For Story


"U-Who" The Submarine That Sank Itself

In 1991 the wreck of an unidentified German submarine from World War II was discovered in 240 feet of water off the New Jersey coast. The wreck became jokingly tagged "U-Who" for lack of a true name. A few years later divers recovered a torpedo aiming device and spare parts from the motor room engraved with serial and other numbers and specifically identified the submarine. It was the U-869, a vessel thought to have been lost somewhere off the coast of Africa. Click For Story


Third Wreck Finished The Schooner Acontias

When the 137-foot-long schooner Acontias wrecked on Presque Isle in Lake Huron on October 28, 1887, the incident brought an end to the 31-year-old vessel’s disastrous years on the Great Lakes. Click For Story


Arson Believed The Cause Of Keystone Blaze

When fire swept three idled steamships tied alongside each other at Ecorse, on July 23, 1932, it destroyed the once fine passenger liners Keystone and Dover and left the third vessel, Enterprise, damaged. Click For Story


Treasure Ship Port Au Prince Found

The burned-out remains of a 200-year-old tall ship of war, last believed used by the British as a privateer on the high seas, have been believed found by sport divers off the coast of Lefooga, in the Tonga Nation of the South Pacific. If they are right, local diver Tevita Moala, the man who found the wreck, believes he may have found the legendary Port Au Prince, which was captured, burned and sunk by King Finau Ulukalala II and his people after the ship, commanded by a Captain Duck, dropped anchor off Lefooga on November 29, 1806. Click For Story


Sinking Of The Robert J. Walker

The ruins of an ancient iron clad steamship were found by commercial fishermen off the coast of New Jersey in 1970, but it was only recently that the vessel was identified as the Robert J. Walker, a historic pre-civil war era ship. The Walker was one of the first iron steamships launched in the United States. It was commissioned in 1847 for the Revenue Service but then used by the Coast Survey to chart the Gulf Coast, the East Coast from the Florida Keys north to Mobile, Alabama. Click For Story


Wreck of the Schooner Abbie

The Abbie was a small two-mast schooner launched at Ludington, Michigan in 1886. It was owned by Grand Haven interests and probably never left Lake Michigan waters during the 19 years it remained in service. At 88 feet in length, the Abbie was especially built for small cargos and designed to be operated by small crews. The vessel had a crew of only four men on the day it went aground and wrecked near the entrance to Portage Lake, off the Michigan coast, on November 8, 1905. Click For Story


The Moselle Riverboat Explosion

About 160 people including Captain Isaac Perin were killed with the fast new riverboat Moselle exploded its boilers in a spectacular blast on the Ohio River, near Cincinnati, on April 25, 1838. The captain was racing his boat and overheated the boilers. Click For Story


Overheated Boilers On The R. G. Stewart

Capt. C. O. Flynn inadvertently set fire to his boat after it went aground on Lake Superior’s Michigan Island. It happened just after midnight on June 4, 1899, while Flynn’s command, the hundred-foot coastal steamer R. G. Stewart, was running through heavy fog at the western end of the lake. Click For Story 


Bombing Of The Thistlegorm

The steamship S. S. Thistlegorm was launched in 1940 for the Albyn Line. While built as a freight hauler for private owners, the British were already at war with Germany so the ship was immediately placed under the control of the British Navy. The vessel made three successful trips before it was destroyed by German bombs while anchored in the Strait of Jubal, Gulf of Suez on Oct. 6, 1941. Click For Story



James L. Donahue is the author of four fine books crammed with Great Lakes shipwreck and shipping history. His books, available through Thunderbay Press, can be purchased on line at Amazon, Borders and other popular book sellers. They include Steaming Through Smoke and Fire, Steamboats In Ice 1872, Terrifying Steamboat Stories and Schooners In Peril.

All written material on this site is copyright protected. Reproduction on other sites is permitted if proper credit is given and the material is not sold or used for financial gain. Reproduction for print media is prohibited unless there is expressed permission from the author, James L. Donahue.

Great And Lost Ships Of The World