Marine Heritage Database

Humboldt - 1853

Ship Type

Typical Profile

Tonnage

2350

Length(ft)

292

Breadth(ft)

40

Depth(ft)

27

Masts

Decks

Hull

Shipwreck Details

Description

One of the first generations of ocean liners, the wreck of this paddle wheeler sunk at Halifax offers a rare glimpse of early Transatlantic steam travel. USMS HUMBOLDT was an American attempt to rival the successful Cunard line in the first generation of Ocean Liner competition. She ran between Southampton and New York for the New York and Havre Steam Navigation Company.

Story

On December 5, 1853, HUMBOLDT was twelve days out of Southampton in fierce weather and running short of coal. The captain made for Halifax but as the paddle wheeler approached the harbour, she was hailed by a fisherman acting as a harbour pilot. In poor visibility, HUMBOLDT ran aground on shoals near Sambro Island. The captain refloated his vessel but eventually had to ground her in Portuguese Cove. While only one life was lost, the ship and much of her cargo, valued at over 300,000 pounds was lost. HUMBOLDT sank in a high energy site, fully exposed to waves which soon tore her apart. However, this action has also exposed wreckage for important research by avocational divers. A study by Trevor Kenchington and Colin Whitelock as part of the Nautical Archaeology Society course in 1989 explored the unusual techniques used by shipbuilders struggling to adapt wooden hulls to the stresses of steam engines. More recently diver Greg Cochkanoff has conducted an inventory of the extensive cargo of French ornamental wares which have been found on the Humboldt site. Easily accessible from Halifax, HUMBOLDT is a popular recreational dive site.

Vessel Type

Barque, Steam & Sail (Side wheeler)

Type of Event

Total Loss

Nature of Event

Stranded

Cause of Event

Judgement error

Date of Wreck

1853-12-05

Location

Portuguese Cove

Cargo

Jewellery; Ornaments Value of jewellery at 300,000 British pounds.

Lives Lost

Voyage from

Cowes, Isle of Wight , England

Voyage to

New York, New York , United States

Remarks

Ship Construction

Built at

New York

Date

1851

Registered at

United States

Date

Propulsion

Steam paddle wheeler

Rig

Barque

Details

Wooden Hull

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Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

Original Data Design by Katherine Riordan, Computers for People

This Web Site is dedicated to the memory of Terry Shaw

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Comments to: Maritime Museum of the Atlanic      / Last updated on 2007-10-05

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