Grecian's Luck Ran Out In 1906


By James Donahue


The Steamer Grecian lies sunk off Thunder Bay in 18 fathoms of water, not far from the remains of her sister ship, the Norman.


The Grecian got in trouble on June 7, 1906, while attempting to deliver a cargo of coal at Detour, Michigan, at the northern end of Lake Huron. As it approached the port, the vessel struck a rock and punched a large hole in the steel hull.


By the time the Grecian made port, the Number One compartment was flooded and the steamer literally sank at the dock.


The ship's owners, the U. S. Steel Corporation, dispatched tugs to the scene. The cargo was removed, the hole temporarily patched, and the water pumped out of the hull.


Then the Grecian was taken in tow down the lake to Detroit, where it was scheduled to go into dry dock for repair. The leak was flooding the vessel, however, because salvage workers misjudged its seriousness. They merely sealed the hatches and believed the air in the holds would keep the vessel afloat.


Apparently nobody bothered to put pumps to work on the ship’s decks, just to make sure.


When off Thunder Bay, in a fog, the ship started riding low in the water, her holds flooding. The foundering vessel was too much for the towing tug.


The steamer Bessemer came on the scene and took the Grecian in tow, attempting to pull it into shallow water before it sank. Suddenly the Grecian's hatches began to blow and the doomed boat slid to the bottom.


All 20 members of the Grecian's crew were safely taken aboard the Bessemer before the steamer sank.


The Grecian was built at Cleveland in 1891. It measured 296 feet in length.


More Ship Stories


Return to The Mind of James Donahue

Great And Lost Ships Of The World