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  • The Minnie Breslauer Bermudas Unluckiest Ship
    by Geri Murphy
    The Minnie Breslauer was one of those unlucky ships that give insurance underwriters gray hair. She sank on her maiden voyage, on New Years Day! Constructed of the finest materials available, this 300 foot long English steamer was built and launched toward the end of 1872.

    Bound for New York she departed Portugal with an assorted cargo of cork, lead ingots, dried fruit and wine. The captain and his crew of 24 were in good spirits on this transatlantic voyage.

    Intending to use Bermuda as a landmark, the captain edged his new ship close to the islands South Shore. He did not have the appropriate navigation chart and was unfamiliar with the waters. Cruising at full speed, the ill-fated ship rammed into a submerged reef one mile offshore, causing the bow section of the hull to collapse. Not realizing the extent of the damage, the captain desperately tried to back his ship off the reef;which immediately caused it to begin sinking. It was New Years Day, January 1, 1873.

    Today, the giant shipwreck is off Bermudas South Shore, not far from the Southampton Princess Hotel beach. She lies on her starboard side on a coral slope, with her crumpled bow at 40 feet and her stern against the flat sand bottom at 70 feet. More than 224 years of saltwater submersion have caused this steel hulled freighter to become heavily overgrown with dome corals, seawhips and sponges.

    A huge steam boiler sits amidships, providing an excellent point of reference while exploring this wreck. Much of the ship is a jumble of steel beams, deck plates, bulkheads and deck machinery;yet the ships basic structure is still recognizable. Forward of the boiler is a pile of lead ingots pinned under the steel plates.

    The most interesting portion of this wreck is the stern, where you can penetrate the interior and shoot photographs among the steel beams. The ships giant four bladed propeller is intact and partially buried in the sand. The great rudder is also there. Perhaps the most interesting artifact is the ships steering quadrant;an odd shaped metal device that allowed the ships rudder to be moved by a steering lever.

    Underwater visibility in this area ranges from good to excellent. The day we dived the Minnie Breslauer the visibility was at least 100 feet. This wreck site is popular because of its proximity to three Bermuda dive operators and because visitors receive a Bermuda Shipwreck Certificate upon completing this dive.