Mystery shipwreck uncovered by Isaac

By Erin  McLaughlin - ABC News

Hurricane Isaac has uncovered the remains of an old sailing ship on an Alabama beach, prompting questions about when the ship wrecked and where it came from.

The remains of the large wooden ship have been seen before: the wreckage is normally covered by sand, but the beach erosion caused by big storms has periodically given glimpses of what is left of the ship's hull.

The wreckage was first exposed after Hurricane Camille in 1969, then again in 2004 after Hurricane Ivan, and again in 2008 after Hurricane Ike.

But Isaac unearthed more of the ship than has been seen before, bringing droves of people out to see the bit of historical mystery on the shore.

Local historians say there really is no mystery about the ship's origins. According to Mike Bailey, historian with the Fort Morgan, Ala., Historical Society, the ship is the Rachel, a schooner built in Pascagoula, Miss., during World War I.

At that time, the government was using most steam ships for the war effort, but the region still needed trade ships, so the Rachel was built to carry cargo in the gulf.

The Rachel was built at the De Angelo Shipyard in Moss Point, Miss., for the purpose of carrying lumber.

When she was completed in 1918, she was the largest ship built in the yard at more than 150 feet long with three masts.

However, with the conclusion of WWI, she wasn't in high demand, sitting unused for several years, Bailey told ABC.


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Hurricane Isaac old sailing ship an Alabama beach Historical Society the Rachel schooner Pascagoula Miss. World War I