SS Regina (1907)
|Owner:||Canada Steamship Lines Inc.|
|Port of registry:||Montreal|
|Builder:||A. McMillian & Son, Dumbarton, Scotland|
|Launched:||September 4, 1907|
|Maiden voyage:||January 19, 1907|
|Fate:||Capsized and sank between November 9 and November 10, 1913 after being severely damaged during the Great Lakes Storm of 1913.|
|Status:||Located in the Sanilac Shores Underwater Preserve|
|Type:||Package Freighter or Canaler|
|Length:||249 ft 3 in (75.97 m) (lpp)|
|Beam:||42 ft 6 in (12.95 m)|
|Depth:||23 ft 0 in (7.01 m)|
|Installed power:||Two Scottish Boiler Steam turbines|
1 × triple-expansion steam engine
|Speed:||8 knots (15 km/h)|
The SS Regina was a steel canaler built for the Canada Steamship Lines and home ported in Montreal, Quebec. Named after Regina, Saskatchewan, the Regina had a tonnage of 1,956 gross register tons (GRT) and a crew of 32.
The ship sank during the Great Lakes Storm of 1913 after taking great damage. Lost for more than a half century, it became known as the "Great Mystery of the Great Storm of the Great Lakes". Since found, it has become an active dive site for scuba divers and is now part of Michigan's underwater Preserve system.
In 1907, the Regina was built in Dumbarton, Scotland by A. McMillian & Son. The order was placed by C.H.F. Plummer of Montreal, Quebec. In 1911 ownership was transferred to the Canadian Lake Transportation Company and in 1912 it was transferred to the Canadian Steamship Lines Incorporated.
The early years of the Regina are clouded and contains little recorded information. There was little interest for the ship until 1913, when it was caught in the Great Lakes Storm of 1913.
On November 9, 1913 the Regina was heading north of Sombra, Ontario. During the night one of the worst storms in Great Lakes history arose. The Regina made it to Point Aux Barqes, Michigan when the winds reached approximately 90 mph (140 km/h) and waves ranged up to 50 feet (15 m). Due to the stress, the ship made an 8-minute turn. Since the Regina was top-heavy with a load of sewer pipes, the turn became much more treacherous.
The Regina began heading south towards Port Huron, Michigan. Around Harbor Beach, Michigan the Regina hit a shoal. As the vessel was taking on water, the crew decided to anchor approximately 7 miles (11 km) east of Lexington, Michigan. All power was shut down and the ship was evacuated with the exception of the captain.
After the evacuation a distress whistle was sounded which was heard from Lexington, Michigan. Within 35 minutes of anchoring the Regina capsized and sank, taking the captain to the bottom of Lake Huron. Near Port Franks, Ontario, two bodies were found with a capsized lifeboat from Regina and another 10 bodies were found on the beach a short distance away. Apparently, there were no survivors from Regina.
Sailors initially theorized that the Regina collided with the Charles S. Price, another ship sunk in the storm, as some of the bodies of the Charles S. Price's crewmen were wearing lifebelts from the Regina. However, this theory was dismissed after the Charles S. Price was found on the bottom of Lake Huron; a diver confirmed that the ship was the Price and that the ship showed no signs of being in a collision.
Twelve ships foundered in the Great Lakes Storm of 1913 and there was confusion in determining where the shipwrecks were located. The day following the storm, November 10, 1913 a huge steel freighter was floating bottom side up, the bow about thirty feet clear of the water but the stern dipping down until it was impossible to tell the length of the carrier. Every visible part of the hulk was coated with ice and there were no identifying marks in view. Originally, people assumed this vessel was the Regina which had been lost the previous day. It was not until early Saturday morning, November 15, that the ship was identified as the Charles S. Price, shortly before it sank on November 17. The front page of that day's Port Huron Times-Herald extra edition read, "BOAT IS PRICE — DIVER IS BAKER — SECRET KNOWN."
Discovery & Salvage
The wreck of the Regina was discovered in 1986 in Lake Huron between Lexington and Port Sanilac, Michigan. The wreck is largely intact but is upside down and in about 77–80 feet of water. It was discovered by Wayne Brusate, Colette Witherspoon, Garry Biniecki and John Severance. During a 1987 archaeological salvage expedition led by underwater archaeologist and shipwreck expert E. Lee Spence, tens of thousands of artifacts, including hundreds of intact bottles of still potable Scotch and Champagne were recovered.
- Hancock, Paul (2001). Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes. Hong Kong: Thunder Bay Press. pp. 133–134. ISBN 1-57145-291-5.
- "Regina (1124231)". Miramar Ship Index. http://www.miramarshipindex.org.nz. Retrieved April 13, 2009. (subscription required)
- Historical Collections of the Great Lakes Great Lakes Vessels Online Index University Libraries / Bowling Green State University "Regina"
- Storm Toll Heavy in Life and Ships. Oshkosh Daily Northwestern. Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Wednesday, November 12, 1913. Page 1
- Hancock, Pg. 81
- Front page, Port Huron Times-Herald EXTRA edition, Port Huron, Michigan, 15 November 1913
- University of Detroit Mercy Fr. Edward J. Dowling, S.J. Marine Historical Collection
- Briggs-Bunting, Jane, and Ned Geeslin, "Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Mumm!" People, November 16, 1987, pp. 143-145