Jump to content

SS Baychimo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
SS Baychimo, 1931
SS Baychimo, 1931
NameSS Ångermanelfven
OwnerBaltische Reederei GmbH, Hamburg
BuilderLindholmens Mekaniska Verkstad A/B, Gothenburg, Sweden
Yard number420
FateTo the UK as war reparations
United Kingdom
NameSS Baychimo
OwnerHudson's Bay Company
HomeportArdrossan, Scotland
FateAbandoned and lost, 1931; Last seen, 1969, ultimate fate unknown
General characteristics
TypeCargo ship
Tonnage1,322 tons
Length230 ft (70.1 m)
PropulsionTriple expansion steam engine
Speed10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)

SS Baychimo was a steel-hulled 1,322 ton cargo steamer built in 1914 in Sweden and owned by the Hudson's Bay Company, used to trade provisions for pelts in Inuit settlements along the Victoria Island coast of the Northwest Territories of Canada. She became a notable ghost ship along the Alaska coast, being abandoned in 1931 and seen numerous times since then until her last sighting in 1969.

Early history[edit]

The Baychimo was launched in 1914 as the Ångermanelfven by the Lindholmens shipyard (Lindholmens Mekaniska Verkstad A/B) in Gothenburg, Sweden,[1] for the Baltische Reederei GmbH of Hamburg. She was 230 ft (70.1 m) long, powered by a triple expansion steam engine and had a speed of 10 kn (19 km/h; 12 mph). The Ångermanelfven was used on trading routes between Hamburg and Sweden until the First World War. After World War I she was passed to the United Kingdom as part of the reparations by Germany for shipping losses and acquired by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1921. Renamed Baychimo and based in Ardrossan, Scotland, she completed nine successful voyages along the north coast of Canada, visiting trading posts and collecting pelts.


On October 1, 1931, at the end of a trading run and loaded with a cargo of fur, Baychimo became trapped in pack ice. The crew briefly abandoned the ship, traveling over a half-mile of ice to the town of Barrow to take shelter for two days, but the ship had broken free of the ice by the time the crew returned. The ship became mired again on October 8, more thoroughly this time, and on October 15 the Hudson's Bay Company sent aircraft to retrieve 22 of the crew. 15 crew remained behind, intending to wait out the winter if necessary, and constructed a wooden shelter some distance away. On November 24, a powerful blizzard struck, and after it abated there was no sign of Baychimo; the skipper concluded that she must have broken up and sunk in the storm. A few days later, however, an Inuit seal hunter informed them that he had seen Baychimo about 45 mi (72 km) away from their position. The 15 men proceeded to track the ship down and, deciding that the ship was unlikely to survive the winter, retrieved the most valuable furs from the hold[2] to transport by air. Baychimo was then abandoned.

Ghost ship[edit]

The Baychimo did not sink, and over the next several decades there were numerous sightings of the ship. People managed to board her several times, but each time they were either unequipped to salvage the ship or driven away by bad weather. The last recorded sighting of the Baychimo was by a group of Inuit in 1969, 38 years after she was abandoned. She was stuck fast in the pack ice of the Beaufort Sea between Point Barrow and Icy Cape in the Chukchi Sea off the northwestern Alaskan coast.[citation needed] Baychimo's ultimate fate is unknown and she is presumed sunk.[citation needed]


Baychimo in 1933, two years after being abandoned
  • A few days after Baychimo disappeared, the ship was found 45 mi (72 km) south of where she was lost, but was again ice-packed.
  • After several months, she was spotted again about 300 mi (480 km) to the east.
  • In January of the following year, she was seen floating peacefully near the shore by Leslie Melvin, a man traveling to Nome with his dog sled team.
  • A few months after that, she was seen by a company of prospectors.
  • In March 1933, she was found by a group of Iñupiat who boarded her and were trapped aboard for 10 days by a freak storm.
  • On 11 August 1933, she was sighted 12 miles off the settlement of Wainwright, Alaska. She was boarded by local inhabitants, as well as by the crew of the M.S. Trader and their passenger, the author and botanist Isobel Wylie Hutchison. A whale-boat, some furniture, and several other items were salvaged.[3]
  • In August 1933, the Hudson's Bay Company heard she was still afloat but too far asea to salvage.[4]
  • In July 1934, she was boarded by a group of explorers on a schooner.
  • In September 1935, she was spotted off the Alaskan coast.
  • In November 1939, she was boarded by Captain Hugh Polson in an attempt to salvage her, but the creeping ice floes intervened and Polson was forced to abandon her.
  • She was spotted numerous times over the following years, but always eluded capture.
  • In March 1962, she was seen drifting along the Beaufort Sea coast by a group of Inuit.
  • She was found frozen in an ice pack in 1969, 38 years after she was abandoned. This is the last recorded sighting of Baychimo.
  • In 2006, the Alaskan government began work on a project to solve the mystery of "the Ghost Ship of the Arctic" and locate Baychimo, whether still afloat or on the ocean floor. She has not yet been found.

In education[edit]

"Alaska's Phantom Ship", an article about the vessel, was printed in the textbook Galaxies (Houghton Mifflin: Boston, 1971, 1974 p. 180.)


  1. ^ "Baychimo: The Adventures of the Ghost Ship of the Arctic". Manitoba Museum. 12 May 2020. Retrieved 10 May 2023.
  2. ^ "Aeronautics: Flights & Flyers". Time Magazine. Time Inc. February 29, 1932. Archived from the original on December 24, 2007. Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  3. ^ Hutchison, Isobel W. (1934). North to the Rime-Ringed Sun. Blackie & Son, Ltd. p. 109.
  4. ^ Dalton, Anthony; James Delgado (2006). Baychimo: Arctic Ghost Ship. Heritage House Publishing Co. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-894974-14-1. Retrieved January 4, 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • Dalton, Anthony, Baychimo: Arctic Ghost Ship, Heritage House, 2006, ISBN 1-894974-14-X
  • Gillingham, Donald W., Umiak!, Museum Press, 1955