News release

New Shipwreck Display Opens at the Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic opened the newest component of its permanent Shipwreck Treasures exhibit today, Nov. 13. The display tells the story of a small tug which sank in the Halifax harbour in 1943.

Launched originally in 1915 from the Halifax Shipyards as Sambro, the 18.3 metre (61 feet) steam tug was one of the first steel vessels built in Halifax. Although a small vessel, the Sambro was vital in assisting with the movement and repair of larger ships during wartime.

The tug was a victim of the Halifax Explosion and sunk in the harbour. Ten years later it was raised, refitted, and renamed Erg. It served as a diesel work tug for the next 16 years. On July 6, 1943, Erg was hit by a Norwegian freighter and immediately sank taking the lives of 19 men abroad. The sinking was the worst accident to ever befall the shipyard and the greatest loss of life from a single shipwreck in the Halifax harbour.

Two weeks later, the tug was raised and 10 bodies were recovered. Deemed beyond repair, Erg was deliberately sunk in Bedford Basin on Aug. 24, 1943.

In the late 1990s, scientists at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography first detected the wreck in Bedford Basin. With assistance from historians at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and research from the National Archives of Canada, divers with the Nova Scotia Undersea Exploration Society proved that the mysterious hull was Erg.

"Telling the story of this vessel and its multiple sinkings fits well within our larger Shipwreck Treasures exhibit, but the history doesn't end with the tug's rediscovery," said Marven Moore, acting director of the museum. "The science of the ship's rediscovery, the search and survey of the wreck site by the diving community, the commemoration of the wreck by the Halifax Shipyard and the ongoing conservation of the artifacts recovered from the wreck are all important elements that we present in the display."

A unique feature of the display's opening involved the steam whistle from Erg which the Navy removed from the ship when it was raised in 1943. Ivan Munn, nephew of Forrest Beaton who was a shipyard worker aboard Erg and perished in the sinking, sounded the whistle for the first time in the six decades since the vessel sank.

On hand as well were Jim Camano, one of the divers who found the wreck, his daughter Aurora who crafted the model of the vessel in the display, and Dusty Miller of the Halifax Shipyard.

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is located at 1675 Lower Water St., Halifax. Information on museum hours and admission prices is available by calling 902-424-7490 or by visiting the museum's website at http://maritime.museum.gov.ns.ca .

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Today (November 13th) the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic opened the newest component of it's permanent Shipwreck Treasures exhibit.

The display features the history of the early 20th century harbour tug--Erg--which sank in Halifax harbour at the height of the second World War.

Rediscovered by scientists at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography and divers of the Nova Scotia Undersea Exploration Society, Erg tells a fascinating story linking Halifax's maritime history with cutting edge oceanographic science.

The display features objects recovered from the wreck including the ship's whistle and portholes, one of which is undergoing conservation as part of the display.

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Contact:

Gerry Lunn
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic 902-424-8793 E-mail: