Steamship Portland 2003
Sept. 13 Sept. 18, 2003
On Nov. 26, 1898, the Steamship Portland left India Wharf in Boston for Portland, Maine, on a regularly scheduled run. She never made it to port. None of the 192 passengers and crew survived the massive storm that wreaked havoc on New England's coast -- a storm that was later dubbed "The Portland Gale" after this tragic loss.
For years, controversy reigned as to the location of the ill-fated ship. In the summer of 2002, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, joined by the National Undersea Research Center at the University of Connecticut, solved the mystery surrounding the Portland's location. Using data from American Underwater Search and Survey, they brought back images from the sea floor that conclusively identified the remains of the steamship Portland.
Researchers from NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, along with the NOAA-UConn team and filmmakers from The Science Channel, returned to the wreck of the famed 19th-century steamship from Sept. 13 - Sept. 18, 2003. Kicking off the expedition to peer into the vessels past and plan for its future, the team conducted the first surveys of the Portland since its location was confirmed in August 2002 within NOAAs Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the Massachusetts coast.
In addition to documenting the Portland, the expedition team investigated the wrecks of the Louise B. Crary and Frank A. Palmer, a pair of Boston-bound coal schooners that collided and sank in 1902 as a result of a navigational error. Like the Portland, the Crary and Palmer lie within the boundaries of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Side-scan sonar images obtained in 2002 during a joint mission between NOAA and NURC-UConn revealed that the two large vessels plunged to the sea floor simultaneously, their bows locked together in a deadly embrace.
The researchers also investigated several nearby mystery wrecks that have yet to be fully identified.