Joel Perry

Submarine exploration of Admiralty Inlet shipwreck only the beginning

An overturned sink at the 90-year-old wreck site of the SS Governor is shown under 240 feet of water in this image from OceanGate

By Charlie Bermant  - Peninsula Daily News

The exploration of the wreckage of the SS Governor in Admiralty Inlet is not only of historical significance but also sets the tone for future oceanic research, says the spokesman for the exploration dive team.

“Our mission was to create a three-dimensional scan of some portions of the wreck,” Joel Perry, vice president of expeditions for OceanGate, told more than 200 people at the Northwest Maritime Center last week.

OceanGate sent a manned yellow submarine, the Antipodes, on several dives in late June to the 90-year-old wreck 240 feet beneath the surface of Admiralty Inlet.

“Conditions were favorable and we were successful in scanning the portions that we wanted,” Perry said.

The next stop for the team is off the coast of Monterey, Calif., where it will attempt examination of the SS Montebello, an oil tanker that was torpedoed on Christmas Day in 1941 by a Japanese submarine and sank within 25 minutes off the coast south of Monterey.

The 38-member crew survived, but 73,000 barrels of crude oil may yet be aboard the vessel.

OceanGate will survey the wreck to assess the potential environmental threat to the nearby Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and report its findings to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Our exploration of the Governor couldn’t have gone any better,” Perry said.

“It was the ideal place for a practice run before our work with the Montebello.”

A capacity crowd Thursday night listened to Perry and Jefferson County Library Associate Director Meredith Wagner to find out more about the history and exploration of the ship that sank off Point Wilson at about midnight April 1, 1921.

Eight of the 240 people aboard the Governor did not survive.

The 417-foot passenger steamship was heading from Vancouver, British Columbia, on its way to Seattle when it was rammed by the SS West Hartland, which was leaving Port Townsend, heading for Bombay, India.

Captain Harry Marden of the Governor mistook the red light on the port side of the West Hartland for the bright red light at the end of the Fort Flagler dock and could not stop in time to avoid the collision, Wagner said.

The bow of the West Hartland hit the starboard side of the Governor. The Hartland’s captain, John Alwen, intentionally kept the bow wedged into the Governor, allowing time for most of the liner’s passengers to abandon ship.

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