"Divers Reach the Portland for the 1st Time"

The following news comes to us from this month's New England Historical and Genealogical Society newsletter... (BTW, note that "Divers David Faye, Bob Foster, Don Morse, Slav Mlch and Paul Blanchette spent 10 to 15 minutes each dive exploring the shipwreck but had to endure up to 4 hours of decompression in the frigid North Atlantic in exchange"!)
The wreck of the steamship Portland off the coast of Cape Ann was one of the worst shipwrecks in the history of New England. Sailing into a 'perfect storm' now known as the Portland Gale in November 1898, almost 200 people, including a senator from Maine, lost their lives returning home from a Thanksgiving holiday.

Little of the wreckage was ever recovered. Few victims ever turned up on shore. Even the exact location of the disaster remained a mystery for a century, until researchers discovered her in the summer of 2002.

The wreckage lies about 15 miles east of Cape Ann, and at 460 feet is about the limit that unprotected human divers can reach. Five Massachusetts men recently reached the Portland for the first time since she sank more than a century ago.

Even though the disaster was enough to rip the upper decks off the ship, many fragile class and porcelain items were found intact, including stacks of delicate china plates.

You can read more about the divers in the Boston Globe, and a slideshow is also available here. In addition, you can also read more about the wreck and view a computer-animated [and - I think - haunting!] video of what scientists believe happened to the ship, on the Science Channel.
The wreck site of the S.S. Portland was added to the National Register of Historic Places back in 2005.

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