|George J. Whelan
LOCATION: Eastern Lake Erie off Dunkirk, NY, USA
DIVE CHARTER: Osprey
Dive Charters. Barcelona, NY
LIES: On port side, inverted. Deck is listing at least 45°.
CONDITION: Completely Intact.
DEPTH: 120'-140' [37-43m]
TYPE: Propeller, steel, bulk freight, sandsucker.
BUILT: 1910 at Toledo, Ohio (as the Erwin L. Fisher).
LOST: July 29, 1930 Rolled over during a squall after a cargo shift.
15 lives lost.
DIMENSIONS: 220' [67m] Length x
40' [12m] beam x 17' [5m] Draft.
NOTES: · After years of searching,
Kozak & Jim Herbert discovered this site October 12, 2005, and the first dive ever on
her was conducted Thursday, October 27, 2005 from Jim's boat, the Southwind by
Marc Beaudry, Mike Domitrek, Dave Grimm, Dan Kuzdale, Jeff Thompson, Wayne Rush, Pat Wolfe,
Dick Yager, and myself. A reporter (John Bonfatti) and photographer (Harry
Scull Jr.) from "The Buffalo News" were also on hand to pick up where the
paper's original 1930 coverage of the sinking left off (See October
29, 2005 Article: "Shipwreck Brought to Light" ). James
Herbert Jr. served as first mate on the expedition. Great thanks to Mr.
Kozak and Capt. Herbert for their diligence and the invitation to dive her! Thanks
as well to The Buffalo
News for the excellent coverage provided, and last, but not least,
thanks to Jim Jr. for not dropping my camera, thus enabling me the privilege
of capturing these first still images of this shipwreck. Dive two
on the Whelan was made on Saturday, October 29. I have included photos
from this dive below as well.
· Wreck sits on
her port side and is rolled over on to her starboard rail along the
forecastle. Access to the starboard deck and holds is provided by the
considerable height difference between the rail on the fore- and sterncastle decks and the rail on the main deck. · Moderate
to heavy zebra mussel infestation present.
At the bow, the wheelhouse and bow structure
submerged beneath the bottom. 3 of 4 port holes on the forecastle are open
(I wonder if this contributed to sinking?). Peering into these, one can
see a tangle of planks, lanterns, furniture, and lots of silt... An anchor
hangs with its fluke tips sticking above bottom. ·
Peering out across the
bottom, numerous pieces of assorted debris can be seen, mostly covered in
Just aft and below the Forecastle deck, is a closed hatch,
which leads to the cabin area of the forecastle. ·
Continuing aft, a large
deck winch hangs from the inverted main deck along with assorted other
rigging. The forward hold is wide
Approximately amidships, there is a series of
stairs and a ladder way that lead below deck. ·
At the sterncastle, portions of the cabin remain
above the bottom. Several open doors and windows, less glass, to be seen
here. Pieces of the lifeboat davit, which (according to photos) originally was mounted above the
cabin roof, protrude from the bottom along with some planking. The hull
here contains more open portholes and a square, cut-out hatchway less
cover. Approximately, 30' [9m] off of the wreck, the inverted bow of
a large, steel lifeboat rises at an angle from the bottom. Several pieces
of what I assume is rigging associated with connection to the davits still
hang from the inside. ·
At the stern, a large
four-bladed prop remains completely above the bottom. The enormous rudder
is heeled over to starboard, presumably due to gravity. ·
Overall she appears
quite virgin. Lets work to keep her that way.
Setting aside the
excitement of this spectacular find, hopefully we can set a goal to
eventually erect some type of marker memorializing the fifteen sailors
that lost their lives in the sinking, the majority of which are, more than
likely, entombed below decks. The
names of those lost -- as reported by The Buffalo Evening News, July 29,
Thomas J. Waagoe, Michael Emling, Arthur Walters, William Neueseler, Harry
Brooks, Arthur Zeck, Thomas Pierce, Jack Stalley, Ed ? (fireman),
Mr. & Mrs. Charles Godfrey, Carl Biechele, Ralph Weis, Ned Dumar, W.P.