Northern’s Dakota Wrecked Near Japan
ships bearing the name Dakota were an unlucky lot. We recently reported the fate of the steamship Dakota of the old Guion
Line, an experimental vessel that wrecked off the North Wales coast in 1977. Then in 1903 the Great Northern Steamship Co.
launched the second steamer to bear the name Dakota. This vessel was lost when it struck a reef off Japan in 1907.
were some peculiar synchronicities.
Dakotas proved to be financial disasters for their owners. Both ships were steered into the rocks and could not be recovered.
Happily both vessels sank slowly so that all passengers and crew members escaped alive. Both vessels were launched with sister
ships that bore the names of U. S. states beginning with the letter “M.”
Northern Steamship Co. was founded by John Jay Hill in 1900 who had ambitious plans to compete for passenger and freight service
between Portland, Oregon, Hong Kong and Japan. The company ordered the construction of two
large liners of over 20,000 tons each.
was launched in 1905 and its sister ship, the Minnesota slid down the ways in 1904. At 622 feet, the Dakota laid claim to
be the largest steamer in the world flying the American flag. She had the capacity of carrying 200 first-class and 1,800 steerage
offered an impressive profile with three passenger decks, four masts and a single funnel. It was propelled by twin screws
and could travel at over 14 knots when at sea.
his ships were lavish and his ambitions were large, the Great Northern Steamship Co. failed, they said, because Hill did not
understand the shipping business.
cause of the business collapse may well have been the loss of the Dakota. The ship was wrecked when it struck a reef off Yokohama,
Japan, on March 3, 1907. Even though both passengers and cargo were removed before the wreck broke up and sank, Hill changed
his tactics. He vowed not to make any more ships under the American flag because of the high cost of maintaining a ship in
was never successful and was for sale when World War I broke out and the Minnesota was commandeered by the government for
the war effort. This spelled the end of the Great Northern Steamship Company.