Over the Waves: SS Charcot

Ship Stats

  • Nationality: Norwegian, then Newfoundlander
  • Length: 35.7 metres
  • Beam: 6.6 metres
  • Weight: 212 tonnes
  • Launched: 1923
  • Built in: T√łnsberg, Norway
  • Sunk: 1960s
  • Sailed by: Hawke Whaling Co. (also owned by the Polar Whaling Company)
  • Owner: Captain Johan Borgen

If you have ever driven along the Conception Bay Highway, you may have driven through a pretty little community called Conception Harbour. And if you slowed down to look out into the inlet, you may have seen a wreck hauled up on the shore.

The Charcot on the shores of Conception Harbour, July 2016

The SS Charcot was a whaling vessel owned by the Hawke Whaling Co. She and her four sister ships, the SS Southern Foam, the SS Sposa, the SS Stoika, and the SS Sukha, sank in this area in the 1960s. The Southern Foam and Sukha were deliberately scuttled by their owner. The Charcot was destined for the same fate, but bad weather pulled her from her moorings and drove her onto the shore. For years some locals discussed pulling her out and sinking her entirely, but for now she and her sister ships are being marketed as underwater tourism attractions.

For a long time, the Charcot was thought to be the wreck of the SS Sposa, her sister ship. The Shipwreck Preservation Society of Newfoundland and Labrador positively identified her as the Charcot in 2013. This leaves the wrecks of the Sposa and the Stoika unaccounted for, resting somewhere further out in Conception Harbour. They sank while being towed to be scrapped just off of Bacon Cove.

This wreck was the first full wreck I had ever came in contact with. Nature has now started to take her decks, with trees and shrubs starting to peek over her rails. That being said, she is still in one piece, with water starting just above her wheelhouse. If you're feeling adventurous (or like to push yourself, which is what I did) you can easily get within five feet of her bow. And if you like diving, the Southern Foam and the Sukha are just off her stern, in about thirty feet of water. Check out the Shipwreck Preservation Society of NL's maps of the wrecks here and here.

And if you do happen to find the Sposa and Stoika, let me know, because that would be pretty awesome!

That's it for this week's "Over the Waves". Have a great week everyone!

Images are my own

I also have an account on Twitter. If you want to check out random history blurbs, bits of harbour information, and the occasional picture of my dog, feel free to follow me! @OriginalShipstr