Friday, October 01, 2004


Wreckage of 'British Whaling Ships' Found in Hawaii

______________________________________________________________________________________ News

The wreckage of at least one of two British whaling ships that were lost in the north-western Hawaiian Islands nearly 200 years ago may have been found near an atoll that was named after them.

Divers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration came upon the wreckage on September 20 while removing marine debris from reefs on Pearl and Hermes Atoll, a scientist said.

The atoll 1,210 miles north-west of Honolulu is named for the two ships, which disappeared in 1822.

If scientists confirm the find, it would be the earliest Western shipwreck discovered in the Hawaiian Islands, said Hans Van Tilburg, maritime heritage coordinator for the regional office of NOAA’s national marine sanctuaries programme.

The debris clearly came from a whaling vessel, and there are no records of any other whaling losses at the atoll, he said.

“I think it’s fantastic that they came across this extensive site,” Van Tilburg said. He said divers found wreckage scattered across almost 700 yards of reef and ocean floor.

Items at the wreck site include anchors, large cauldrons used to process whale oil, metal hardware and even parts of the wooden ship. Cannons and cannonballs, gaffs and other gear for hunting and processing whales were also found.

According to the NOAA scientists, the Pearl was sailing with the ship Hermes when it struck the reef first on April 24, 1822. When the Hermes raced to help, it also struck the reef. The crew from both ships swam ashore and were later rescued.

Scientists are not releasing the exact location of the wreckage for fear the site would be stripped of its artefacts.

Pearl & Hermes Atoll (27° 50' N - 175° 50' W)

Check the link about Hawaii shipwrecks history.

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