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

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Vineyard Sound

Description: Warship, Ship-of-the-Line
 Dimensions:    length - 196.3 ft.     width - 53 ft.    depth - 25.6 ft.
      Tonnage:      gross - 2600         other -
   Propulsion: Sail, Square Rigged, 3 masts

The Shipwreck

   Date Sunk: July 27, 1922
          Cause: Burned
      Location: Graves Island, Manchester
Coordinates:     Latitude, 42o - 34' - 16"N    Longitude,70o - 44' - 45"W

   While in tow of the tug Perth Amboy, five days out of New York City, a fire of undetermined origin broke out aboard the old ship of the line. The third fire in the warship's history, it started around 10AM and spread quickly. No sooner had the two man crew abandoned ship, then the towline parted from the flaming bow and the USS Granite State was adrift. Smoke could be seen for miles, but those witnessing the conflagration from shore knew not what vessel burned off their coast. The ship burned fiercely all day, preventing the Perth Amboy from securing a new towline or even fighting the fire. At midnight observers on shore saw the flames suddenly go out. The warship had fetched atop the granite shoals on the southwest corner of Graves Island. Beyond recovery the ship was left to the mercy of the elements.
   On May 23 of the previous year, the Granite State was severely damaged by fire, while tied to the 96th Street Pier in New York City. Oil, pooling around the ship from a leaking 6 inch Standard Oil Company pipe, was ignited from the backfire of a passing Captains gig. The resulting fire destroyed the gig, a 3 story naval office, storehouse and the Granite State. Low water pressure on shore contributed to the loss. However, before the crew abandoned ship the vessels powder magazine was flooded, preventing an explosion that would have devastated the surrounding area. Fireboats pumped tons of water into the flaming hulk until it settled into the mud. Listing sharply to port only the mooring chains kept the vessel from capsizing.
   In August of 1921 the burnt out hulk of the USS Granite State was sold at auction for $5000.
   Fastened and sheathed with over 100 tons of copper, it was estimated that $70000 of salvageable material could be removed from the hulk. Two, five ton anchors along with 100 tons of chain were still aboard and it was rumored there were three gold spikes in the ship's keel.
   The initial salvage operation took 5 months. After the lower gun ports were sealed with canvas patches and the water was pumped out, the old warrior was taken in tow for Eastport, Maine, to be broken up.

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Dive Site Conditions

     Depth in feet:    maximum - 40    minimum - 10
Visibility in feet:      average -

Storms have battered, broken and buried sections of the once staunch oak hull.

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Historical Background

Constructed:     year - 1816 - 1864
                       where -
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
                       builder - Portsmouth Navy Yard
Construction details: Built of live oak. Copper fastenings believed to have been forged at the Revere Foundry, founded by Paul Revere, they're identical to fittings used in the smaller frigate USS Constitution, which came from the Revere Foundry.
Crew:     Master:
Owners: Mulholland Machinery, Corporation, New York
Home or Hailing Port: New York
Former Name(s), date(s): Alabama (1818 - 1864), New Hampshire (1864 - 1904), Granite State (1904 - 1922)
Official number:       Country: U.S.A.
Other Comments:
1816 - April 29, the United States Congress authorized funding for nine 74 gun ships of the line.
1818 - Commissioned as the Alabama in presence of President James Monroe.
1825 - Nearly completed, but remained on stocks at the Porstmouth Navy Yard.
1864 - April 23, Launched for service in the Civil War, name changed from Alabama to New Hampshire.
1864 - 1866 - Served off Port Royal, South Carolina, as a Hospital and Supply ship.
1866 - June 8, Norfolk, Virginia, began service at as a Recieving Ship.
1876 - April 10, returned to Port Royal.
1881 - Reassigned to Norfolk, Virginia, for use as a recieving ship and then to Newport, Rhode Island, as flagship of the Apprentice Training Squadron.
1893 - Loaned to the New York State Naval Militia, as a training ship and armory.
- nearly 1000 men who trained aboard the old Ship-of-the-Line, saw service in the Spanish American War.
1904 - November 30, name changed to Granite State so that "New Hampshire" could be used for a new Battleship.
1918 - Fire broke out in the forecastle and spread through the superstructure. Disaster averted by flooding ship's magazine.
1921 - April 23, fire destroyed the old warship at the dock.

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   Three salvage attempts recovered huge oak timbers for the copper they were fastened with. One of the ship's anchors and many cannon balls have also been recovered.
   The November 2, 1965 edition of the Boston Globe reported Norwood resident William Kolb planned on recovering artifacts from the Granite State. At the time he was manning the Foxboro based Hektor Scientific Company, "Aqua Cabin" underwater habitat , which had been placed in 80 feet of water a short distance from the wreck site.

Boston Globe; Novenber 2, 1965
New Englands Legacy of Shipwrecks; Keatts, 1988
New York Times; April 24, 1921
New York Times; July 27, 28, 1922
New York Times; November 2, 1965
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships

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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