By Matthew M. Burke
Eric Takakjian was overcome with excitement as he scraped sea anemones from an unknown shipwreck's wheel this past weekend.
There at the sunken ship's helm, Takakjian and the dive's videographer Patrick Rooney were able to make out the engraving, "NEWCASTLE CITY LIVERPOOLE," through their diving masks.
The discovery ended months of speculation about the name of the wreck that was discovered by Takakjian's team in August after several years of historical research and the inspection of "interesting" sonar targets south of Nantucket.
The ship had finally been definitively identified as the British steamship SS Newcastle City, a vessel that was carrying cargo when it was lost on Dec. 23, 1887, after striking an uncharted shoal in the wee hours en route to New York from South Shields, England.
The Newcastle City's 26-man crew and sole passenger rowed for six hours in two boats to the Nantucket Lightship, where they were rescued.
"We were just completely thrilled," Takakjian said Thursday in a telephone interview. "We were both screaming underwater like maniacs. We were just psyched beyond belief."