Historic Wreck Of The Two Brothers Found
By James Donahue
American Literature buffs are familiar with Herman Melville’s classic book Moby Dick. Some may not know that
the story was based upon a real-life event surrounding the wreck of the whaling ship Essex and the horrors endured by Captain
George Pollard and the members of his crew.
Pollard survived that 95-day ordeal in a small boat and took a second command, the whaling ship Two Brothers which
wrecked at French Frigate Shoals off the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands on February 11, 1823. The wreck of the Two Brothers
recently made news after sport divers discovered it, complete with artifacts used by the crew more than 200 years ago.
As the story was told, the Two Brothers and a second whaler, Martha, sailed together from Nantucket, around Cape Horn
at the southern tip of South America then westward to the Hawaiian Islands, heading for newly discovered whaling ground in
the Pacific. The Two Brothers was caught in a storm and wrecked in the shoals.
It was said that Pollard was so stunned by the fact that he had lost his second command that the crew had to plead
with him to abandon ship and join them in the life boats. They were rescued the next morning by the Martha. It was the end
of Pollard’s career at sea.
The remains of the wreck were found by a team of NOAA maritime archaeologists in 2008 during an extensive survey of
the shoal area. Divers found anchors, hawsepipes, the remains of standing rigging, blubber hooks, a grinding wheel, a portion
of a whaling harpoon and other items that clearly came from a whaling ship.
It was not until early in 2010 that the wreck was identified as the Two Brothers. The identification was made after
researchers found a collection of tools used in whaling, additional harpoon tips, four whaling lances, ceramics, glass, sounding
board and numerous other artifacts that dated to an 1820 time period. The Two Brothers was the only whaling ship known to
have wrecked in the area at that early time.
At least two other whalers went to their destruction in the same area, but these wrecks occurred much later, marine
historical records show.