NORTHERN LIGHT

 

Depth: 185 fsw
Location: Key Largo
GPS:
Lat 25 08.081'N Lon 080 14.210'W (I personally got the position)
Dive date:Nov. 10, 2002

The Northern Light wreck is sometimes referred to as the “Elbow Wreck”.  It was a steel freighter built in 1888, which was newer technology at the time of its construction, and it was one of 6 ships similar in design built for Great Lakes service.  Early in the ships life ownership passed through many hands and it faithfully provided the owners with income as it plied the Great Lakes waterways up until about 1917 when for whatever reason a decision was made to transfer the vessel to salt water service.  Due to the fact that the system of locks  connecting the Great Lakes could not accommodate the ship’s size, it was actually split in two by burning out the rivets which held her together. Later, it was a simple matter to re-rivet the hull sections together after the vessel was ferried by barge to docks that would give it access to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Northern Light operated out of Mobile Alabama during the 1920’s until the cost of maintaining it made it unprofitable as a cargo ship.  Its here that the history of the ship becomes interesting as the owners attempted to scuttle the vessel as well as several other ships by setting them on fire in a unsuccessful attempt to collect an insurance settlement.   This fraud was eventually exposed and the owners brought to justice.  The Northern Light seems to have weathered this storm and emerged intact enough for a new owner to convert the ship into a “barge” by removing damaged superstructures and rearranging its remains.  The vessel carried out its new assignment reliably but would meet its final fate in the 1930’s when passing up past the Florida Keys it encountered a storm then described as one of the worst in recent memory.  It was reported to have become de-attached from its tow vessel and simply slipped below the surface to its now resting place in Key Largo with a loss of 5 lives.  The exact cause for this still remains unknown, but speculation centers around the weakened hull from its earlier split in two. Only one seaman onboard the vessel was rescued and 5 others of the 6 onboard were never found.  Today the Northern Light lays in 185fsw exactly where it sunk around 70 years ago.

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Photos -Click for bigger- then move it wherever you want, click on the X to close the picture

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The next photos are courtesy of Mark Zurl www.deeperstuff.com
Thanks Mark for take pictures of myself
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