The Boston newspapers carried the news of the Steamship Portland's demise

The Boston newspapers carried the news of the Steamship Portland's demise during "The Portland Gale" in the fall of 1898.

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 vessel’s past and plan for its future, the team conducted the first surveys of the Portland since its location was confirmed in August 2002 within NOAA’s 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.

Updates & Logs

Click images or links below for detailed mission logs and updates.

Sept. 19 Log Sept. 19 The Portland mission heads back in as Hurricane Isabel gets close. The Science Channel team gives us a glimpse on the inside of shooting a documentary.

Sept. 18 Log Sept. 18 There's still time for more research before the hurricane reaches our team. This time out, they're investigating a mystery ship.

Sept. 17 Log Sept. 17 Hurricane Isabel is headed toward our researchers, creating changes on the go. They head off to the Palmer and Crary site in search of "ghost gear" on ghost ships.

Sept. 16 Log Sept. 16 Artifact discoveries give voice to and tell a story from the Portland's past. They not only spark the imagination but move the archaeologist to understand patterns of human behavior.

Sept. 15 Log Sept. 15 The team makes it down to the wreck today for a five-hour stay. They revisit features that they only had tantalizing glimpses of last year, and observe new areas through the "eyes" of a high definition television camera.

Sept. 14 Log Sept. 14 ROV repair needs kept the mission from getting out to the site today.

Sept. 13 Log Sept. 13 The exploration gets underway and they put the "fish" in the water. The "fish" is a towed side scan sonar – a piece of equipment that uses sound to create images of the seafloor.