This Saturday I’m going out with the normal crew to make a dive on the AJ Fuller – a massive 229 foot long, three mast sailing ship that sunk in 1918. She is sitting at the bottom of Elliot Bay, 240 feet deep, so I consider this dive to be a “big dive” if that makes sense.
The AJ was owned primarily by Flint & Company of New York, and named for a shareholder who lived in Bath, Maine. The three-skysail yard ship was one of a dozen ‘Down Easters’ built in 1881. Under the Flint house flag she sailed between New York, San Francisco, and Liverpool for ten years.
In 1892, she was put in trade from East Coast ports, where she loaded case oil for the ‘Orient’ or general cargo or coal to Hawaii, generally returning with sugar cane. It was while she was in that trade that Felix Riesenberg, who later became a master mariner in his own right, sailed in her before the mast.
She was sold to the California Shipping Company in 1902 and used in trade between the Pacific Northwest and Australia, exporting lumber and importing coal. In 1912, she was purchased by the Northwestern Fisheries Company of San Francisco, who employed her in their seasonal salmon fisheries—sailing north in the spring with fishermen, cannery workers, and supplies, and returning in the fall with a full load of canned salmon.
On October 18, 1918, while inward bound to Seattle in a heavy fog, she was rammed by the Japanese steamship Mexico Maru and sank in 240 feet of water.