Using a five-passenger submarine and a remotely operated vehicle, a team of explorers has discovered a historic Mosquito Fleet Steamer in Elliott Bay near Alki Point, USA, that they believe is the SS Dix, which sank in 1906 and has not been seen since.
After 104 years, the sinking of the Dix is still considered the worst maritime disaster in Puget Sound.
On November 18, 1906, the Dix was underway from Seattle to Port Blakely on Bainbridge Island with 77 passengers and crew when she struck the three-masted schooner Jeanie one mile west of Duwamish Head. The Dix sank within minutes with a loss of thirty-nine lives.
Explorer and underwater videographer Laura James has searched for the location of the Dix for two decades. In early March, 2011, believing she had located the Dix, but lacking the resources to explore those extreme depths, she began collaborating with wreck diving author Scott Boyd, and OceanGate, a local submarine exploration company.
Boyd and James first scanned the wreck using surface sonar from aboard Boyd's boat, Dive Bum, to confirm that it was likely to be a notable shipwreck and not another sunken barge.
OceanGate then provided a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) with an experienced crew on Dive Bum and on 19th March, 2011, the first video images of the wreck were recorded along with high-definition sonar.
"The deep wreck is clearly a wood-hulled passenger steamer from the Mosquito Fleet era and is in a location consistent with the last sighting of the Dix," said James.
On 14th and 15th April, OceanGate's five-person submarine Antipodes made three dives totaling 11 man-hours on the newly discovered wreck, which sits at a depth of 500 feet, about one mile north of Alki Point. "The photos, video, personal observations and sonar images captured during the hours spent on the wreck are all consistent with the vessel being the Dix," said Boyd.
The pilothouse and much of the upper deck cabin is still in place, as is the propeller. The wreck is laying on its starboard side, pointed towards Port Blakely almost directly below the intersecting plots of the courses of the Jeanie and Dix.
Additional submarine dives are planned to gather more information and images to document the wreck using the latest 3D sonar technology. "It's a rare privilege to dive in a submarine to a depth where very few people have been," said Joel Perry, OceanGate's VP of Expeditions. "To visit a wreck that might be such an important piece of local history that nobody has seen before is an awesome experience."