The Shipwreck |    Dive Site Conditions
Historical Background   |    Salvage (if any)    |    Sources

Charles S. Haight

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Vineyard Sound

Description: Freighter; Steel
Dimensions:   length - 422.8 ft. ,    width - 57 ft. ;    depth - 34.8 ft.
     Tonnage:     gross - 7198,           other -
  Propulsion: Steam; Single propellor
         Cargo: Empty

The Shipwreck

    Date Sunk: April 2, 1946
          Cause: Stranded
      Location: Cape Ann, on the Flat Ground off Rockport.
 Coordinates:  Latitude, 42o - 40' - 38"N   Longitude,70o - 35' - 03"W

   The evening of April 1, 1946, found the Charles S. Haight off Cape Ann, returning "in ballast" (without cargo) to New York after delivering coal to Newport, England. A strong southeast wind made the going slow, visibility was poor and sea's rough. At the helm Richard Young of Detroit, Michigan, reported the freighter on a course of 215 degrees traveling in a southwesterly direction.
   At 12:07AM, April 2, the Haight suddenly ground to a halt. Unequipped with radar and with poor visibility, the southeasterly winds had blown the freighter inshore, off of her course and onto the Flatground inside the Dry Salvages, 1.5 miles east of Rockport.
   Without a cargo to weigh her down, the steamer slid high on the ledge and resisted all attempts to free her. The vessel radioed that her double-bottomed hull had been punctured near No.5 hold but otherwise the rest of the freighter was intact. Heavy seas pounded the stranded steamer against the ledge and soon water was flooding the rest of ship. At first the pumps kept up with the incoming deluge. However, by forenoon Captain Mano ordered 29 of his crew to the lifeboats as rising waters in the engine room threatened a boiler explosion. For two hours the crewmembers sat it out until the danger passed. At 3:30PM they were removed to the Coast Guard Cutter Ojibwa, standing by the vessel in case she broke up in the heavy seas.
   By late afternoon seas had moderated and the Haight stopped pounding, but the damage was done. The vessel had been pushed atop the ledge to the midship section. The holds were flooded and there was 30 feet of water in her engine room. A representative of the vessel's Boston agents said the ship was "dead".
   April 5th the Boston Papers reported there was no hope of saving the grounded vessel as she was breaking in two at the No.4 hold.
   By April 9th the Charles S. Haight was considered a total loss.

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Dive Site Conditions

    Depth in feet:    maximum - 30 ;    minimum - 10
Visibility in feet:      average - 20

   Over the years Charles S. Haight's remains were reduced until only a vestige of her huge triple expansion steam engine could be seen at low tide. This can be found on the west side of the Flat Ground.
   Between high and low tides strong currents flow over this wreck making, even, anchoring difficult. I first dove this wreck in August of 1985. At that time of the year it was hard to discern rock from wreck given the thick mat of algae. Most of the "wreckage" consisted of steel beams and plates scattered atop the ledge. Some brass objects were to be found corroded into crevices in the ledge. Mostly nuts and bolts we did, however, recover what could be the key to a lifeboat launching apparatus. Hank Keatts, 1988, reported that remains of the bow could be found "One half the distance between the engine and the breakwater."

Click on the image to go to the MapTech Map Server,
for additional navigation information.
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Historical Background

Constructed:    year - 1944;    where - Brunswick, Georgia
                      builder -
Construction details: Liberty ship
Crew: 49 ;     Master: Capt. Joseph.A. Mano
U.S. War Shipping Administration; Peabody & Lane, Boston Agents;
Operated by Marine Transport Lines

Home or Hailing Port: Brunswick, Georgia
Former Name(s), date(s):
Official number: 246541      Country: U.S.A.
Other Comments: One of over 2700 Liberty Ships built during the Second World War, this class of vessel made a significant contribution to the war effort in the transport supplies.
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   Merritt Chapman & Scott, New York, began salvage operations on the vessel, within days of her stranding. She was not, at the time, considered a hazard to navigation.
   Much of this vessel was removed as scrap by various salvers over the years. In 1958, Shipwreck Researcher/Writer Brad W. Luther reported. "The bow and stern broke away from the mid-section and the stern disappeared from view. The bow projects about 10 feet above water and the mid-section was 40 feet above water at last report" By 1965 he reported the vessel had been reduced until only the main engine was above water.
   Today only a remnant of the freighters huge triple expansion steam engine bares at low water.

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Boston Globe; April 2, 3, 4, 5, 1946
Fisherman Magazine; August 22, 1991
MapTech Mapserver
Merchant Vessels of the United States; 1947
Merchant Vessels of the United States, Vessels Lost Chapter; 1948
New England's Legacy of Shipwrecks; Keatts, 1988
New England Shipwrecks, Luther; 1967
New York Times; April 3, 4, 9, 1946
Wrecks Below; B.W. Luther, 1958

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   These files are under construction. Any information, specifically dive site related, would be greatfully appreciated.  

Send comments to: Chris Hugo

Copyright 2000 by Christopher C. Hugo
Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources
All Rights Reserved