Inkerman and Cerisoles
The Inkerman and Cerisoles Minesweepers are two French warships named after two major battles fought during the Crimean War, that vanished on their madian voyage in a Great Lakes storm in Lake Superior sometime in mid-november of 1918. No Traces of the two vessels have ever been found. 76 French Sailors and two Candian captains disppeared along with the Minesweepers. The Inkerman and Celisoles are the last Navel Warship Vessels to disppear in the great lakes and are the largest loss of life on Lake Superior.
Built at The Canada Car and Foundry Company In What was then known as Fort William, Ontario. The vessels layed at 140 feet long, and eighty feet in width, 630 tons, with a single smoke stack. Sailed by two steam powered propellers. The Vessel class was divided into four water tight compartments. Two 100mm deck guns were located forward and aft with a range of about 20 kilometers. Had a speed of about twelve knots. Consisted manly of a wood hull with some steel. Rumored that because of the end of World War I, funds were cut short and wooden plugs took the place of metal rivets in the Minesweepers which could of lead to their demise. The Vessels were in the Navarin-type Minesweeping class and were designed to clear hundreds upon thousands of underwater mines in the English channel. Along with the Inkerman and Celisoles, a sister ship, called the Sebastopol was built along side the two, almost sinking on its madian voyage it's self.
In the Middle of Novemeber the 3 minesweepers Inkerman, Cerisoles, and Sebastopol Left the harbor of Fort William, Ontario in Lake Superior. The three vessels were to reach the Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence River after crossing the Greak Lakes. 76 french sailors made up the crew of the Inkerman and Cerisoles, with the addition of two vetren Canadian captains, Capt. R. Wilson and W.j. Murphy. These Vessels were built to fight even the heaviest waves of the ocean. As the ships steamed further into Lake Superior, and Blizzard came across the lake with recored winds of 50 mph, and waves 30 ft high. All three ships soon lost visual sight of eachother through the snow and waves. The storm was so bad that a sailor from the Sebastopol said "We had to get out the life boats and put on lifebelts ... the boat almost sank – and it was nearly `goodbye' to anyone hearing from us again,"You can believe me, I will always remember that day. I can tell you that I had already given myself up to God." Water had poured into the Sebastopol, flooding part of her engine room and nearly putting out the coal fires in her boilers.The Storm pounded the Sebastopol for 2 days but the vessel managed to pull in the the Sault Ste. Marie. What soon became apparent was that the Inkerman and Cerisoles were nowhere to be found. As days passed, rumors that the warships sailed through the locks unnoticed all the way to the St. Lawrence River, but it was assumed the ships were lost. On December 3, 1918, ten days after the three ships left what is now Thunder Bay, a search effort was launched, but because of Wartime Censorship it was small and the public people were left out of the search. No wreckage was ever found of the ships and their whereabouts are unknown. The public knew nothing of the Inkerman and Cerisoles till Wartime Censorship ended in Canada in 1918.
Since no wreckage or bodys were ever officially found, it hard to say what really happened. Most believe the vessels went down because of the Lake Superior storm, and others believe the the warships may have struck the Lake Superior Shoal, which is a area of the lake that has extremly shallow water and ships have been know to bottom out and sink. This is what was believed to sink the mighty Edmund Fitzgerald. Ideas came about suggesting that the ships sailed on through the lakes under wartime censorship, but if thats the case, the what happened to all the saliors. Some extreme thoughts were that a German u-boat sailied into the great lakes and sunk the warships. A popular idea today is that the vessels had contact with a UFO in the Lake Superior Triangle, and vanished like other planes and ships in that area. What is clear is that the ships are still missing after over 90 years without a trace.
Search for the Wrecks
In whats being called the "Holy Grail" of the great lakes, a search for the Inkerman and Cerisoles is under. Lead by Famous shipwreck hunter Tom Farnquist, known for removing the bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald. The search has been ongoing but no strong finds to date.
List and Fate of the French Minesweepers Built by Canadian Car and Foundry
The Cerisoles on Lake Superior(November 1918)
|Name:||Inkerman and Cerisoles|
|Operator:||French Navy France|
|Port of registry:|
|Builder:||Canadian Car and Foundry of Fort William, Ontario|
|Christened:||November 11, 1918|
|Maiden voyage:||November 13, 1918|
|Fate:||Disappeared in a storm in November of 1918 with all 78 crewmembers|
|Hull #||Original Name||Original Owner||Vessel Type||Built||Disposition|
|1||Narvarin||Frech Navy||Trawler||Sept-18||Deleted 1965|
|2||Mantoue||French Navy||Trawler||Sept-18||sold 1949|
|3||St. Georges||French Navy||Trawler||Nov-18||Deleted 1952|
|4||Leoben||French Navy||Trawler||Nov-18||Deleted 1933|
|5||Palestro||French Navy||Trawler||Oct-18||Deleted 1936|
|6||Lutzen||French Navy||Trawler||Nov-18||Wrecked on Cape Cod 1939|
|7||Bautzen||French Navy||Trawler||Nov-18||Foundered 1961|
|10||Sebastopol||French Navy||Trawler||Nov-18||Wrecked in 1933 off Cape St Francis|
|11||Malakoff||French Navy||Trawler||Nov-18||Foundered Bay Roberts 1974|
|12||Seneff||French Navy||Trawler||Nov-18||Wrecked near Canso 1955|