Possible Position for Andelana

The Andelana was a British bark that vanished during a Jan. 6, 1899, windstorm while moored in Tacoma’s Commencement Bay.

[The four-masted British bark had been moored there, roughly 500 yards from shore. The crew had unloaded its cargo of steel and was bunked down for the night. The plan was to load up with wheat in a day or two and set sail for San Francisco. Without ballast, the 300-foot ship was kept on even keel by chains fastened to heavy logs on either side.

Then, during the night a windstorm hit and the ship vanished, slipping silently below the waterline and entombing all 17 sailors aboard. It had not been rammed or burned; no one saw or heard it go down. It appeared that the rigging broke during the storm, tipping and capsizing the Andelana.

The loss of life – the worst ever in the bay – and the way the Andelana simply disappeared in a protected harbor made it something of a mystery ship as years passed.] [Story Credit: Seattle Times, 2000]

It has apparently been found from time to time – In 1935, a diver looking for a tugboat’s anchor stumbled upon the silt-covered hulk of the Andelana. In 1954, some of the ship’s ironwood railing was hauled up and made into gavels for Republican clubs around the state – but the wreck has never been explored by divers.

I believe the Commencement Bay bathymetry points to its location. In the bathymetry included here the wreck is marked as ‘Target with Shadow’ and lies between 60 and 80m; which would give the depth of the wreck as approx 230ft.

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Grumman F4F Wildcat & TBF-1 Avenger

F4F Wildcat and TBF-1 Avenger
F4F Wildcat grumman-tbf-avenger.jpg
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Collision Details:

Date: August 17, 1942

  • 4 Grumman Avenger bombers making simulated group torpedo run on Meydenbauer Bay, Lake Washington
  • 3 Wildcat fighters attempting to oppose run
  • 1 Wildcat held his attack too long
  • Mid air collision between 1 Wildcat and 1 Avenger; both aircraft crash and sink
  • Avenger Pilot, Radioman Injured, Tail Gunner Killed

Operating out of NAS Seattle at Sand Point, four Avenger torpedo bombers made a simulated torpedo attack on a target in Lake Washington, located near Meydenbauer Bay.

Three Wildcat fighters were simulating defense of the target.

The torpedo bombers were traveling east, toward Bellevue, at about 200 knots. The three fighters made an opposing run from ahead at about 300 knots. The pilot of one Wildcat held his attack too long to affect a safe recovery and collided with one of the Avengers. The fighter pilot continued west, toward Seattle, lowered his landing gear to slow his plane and bailed out. The Wildcat went into the lake off Leshi.

The damaged Avenger and other aircraft flew north toward NAS Seattle. According to Seattle Times cartoonist, Sam Groff, who was fishing
from a boat,

“I saw five planes flying in formation. There were three torpedo bombers and two fighters. Suddenly one of the bombers began to tip on
its right wing. It was getting lower and lower. The next instant it struck. The impact tore off the right wing.” (Seattle Times, August 18, 1942).

After the crash, the pilot, F. W. Janney of Philadelphia, PA, and top turret gunner, Charles W. Price of Houston, TX, managed to get out of the damaged
Avenger before it sank. However, the radioman/ventral gunner, Bernard J. Viscovich of Shamokin, PA, was trapped in the plane and

Another eyewitness, Paul Moran, provided this account of the crash:

“I was on a sailboat near the crash site when it occurred. We had been to a marina in Houghton and were returning toward moorage between Juanita and Champagne Point. Someone aboard shouted “look at that plane!” and when I looked it was approaching the water at high speed and at a fairly steep angle. When it hit, the wings appeared to fold forward and all kinds of debris threw up spray ahead of it. A large piece of debris, which we thought was the propeller, cart wheeled across the water ahead of the fuselage. We saw what we thought to be the pilot thrown 20 to 30 feet into the air. We turned the boat around and proceeded to the crash site to see if there were any survivors. We found a person floating in his life jacket who was dazed and barely conscious. We could see another person also floating in the water some distance away that seemed to be in slightly better shape so we stayed with the first person to be sure he wouldn’t drown. We were afraid to bring him aboard because we didn’t know the extent of his injuries. We held him along side until a crash boat arrived from NAS Seattle which retrieved both persons.” (Personal Communication, December 3, 2004).

Artist’s 3D Rendering of Wildcat today:
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F4F Underwater Images:
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Seattle Times, August 18th, 1942
“Planes Victim’s Body Hunted”
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Avenger Underwater Images:
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Avenger Pilot F.W. Janney
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Sonar Imagery (F4F and TBF-1)
f4f_wildcat_sonar1.jpg avenger.jpg
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US Navy Minesweeper Discovered in Lake Washington

This past Sunday, in a joint effort between JaWS Marine and Innerspace Exploration, we located a previously undocumented Navy Minesweeper in Lake Washington. This ship is 130ft in length, 24ft wide and is sitting in 200ft of water off Sand Point/Magnuson Park.

The YMS designation stands for Yard class Mine Sweeper. These ships were used during WWII for near shore mine sweeping as means to prepare for amphibious based assaults. More detailed history on the YMS located here and here.

Dive and ROV operations have not yet begun on this ship, so we do not yet know which of the 481 YMS ships built during WWII we have located. Based on experience with the relatively well known YMS-359 also located in Lake Washington, as well as other submerged minesweepers, we’re hoping the white designation numbers will still be visible on the bow.

Included below are a few sonar images from our work on Sunday, as well as some YMS 3D modeling images courtesy of Infusion Studio’s 3D.

A few things to look for when comparing our sonar images to the model photos: the narrow, but tall pilot house, fenders on stern deck (these reflect very brightly in the sonar image), opening in hold where ‘spool’ use to sit, opening in hold at engine compartment (meaning engines were removed prior to sinking), forward mount for guns.

More on this one as the story unfolds; I hope to post underwater images here before the end of the year.






Additional Sonar Image of Hauler

Additional image of the Hauler as recorded by the sonar crew today; great detail in the shadow of this image showing roof line, windows and open bow. 

If you look closely at the top down view of the wreck you can see a rectangular opening in the mid ship. I dropped into this hole on the dive mentioned in the first post about the Hauler but I was focused toward the bow.  Divers on the wreck today discovered that entrance leads to a lower room back toward the stern complete with sink and mirror.


Lake Washington Hauler

This past Sunday I hit the water with a new sonar crew operating on the lake.  Locally they are known as the ‘NAUI boys’ because of their training background.  The short story on them is they are a real solid bunch of guys, good DIR divers and they are using sonar equipment by Burton Electronics.

We focused on an area off Leschi pretty hard, looking for a specific wreck in that general location that we knew had been missing for almost 100 years. 

By the end of day Sunday, we had spent about 6 hours on the lake.  It was raining really hard all day, and the wind was blowing some sizeable waves, but in their fully covered/enclosed 34ft boat we stayed pretty comfortable the whole time.  And by the time we left the water we were armed with the following sonar image, showing a shipwreck of about 60ft in length:


The image is somewhat grainy, but if you look at it closely there are a few things you can determine:
– Rounded stern (left side) – note roundness of stern in shadow
– Sonar passing through portion of stern – usually indicates windows or open deck with overhead structure
– Appears to have square faced cabin structure at the aft end of the ship
– Long open bow

Monday evening we made the first discovery dives on this wreck, which lies in about 120ft of water. 

Pre dive I had somewhat convinced myself we had found the Acme.  The Acme was a passenger steamer that operated on the lake before the bridges.  It burned and sank off Leschi in 1908 and it happened to be 60 feet long – and there aren’t too many unfound 60ft wrecks in Lake Washington.

As it turned out this wreck appears to be an old hauler of some kind.  Possibly from the original Foss Launch and Tug Company.  I am guessing its era is from the 1920’s to 1940’s.  It has a round stern with no aft deck, square windows on the top portion of the cabin with additional portholes below.  A square cabin face with one door and then a large open deck that has a 4×6 sized opening in the middle and a closed metal hatch near the bow.  A wooden craft with large rudder and propeller still in place.

It will take some time to identify this wreck.  I am having trouble even locating a top-side photo of a boat that looks similar to this one.  It reminds me of a container ship shrunk down to 60ft in length.    

One interesting note about the dive – we saw salmon all over this wreck; and they were aggressive.  We rarely see much life at all at the bottom of the lake, so it was unique to come across a half dozen salmon. 

Special thanks to the NAUI Boys: Scott, Shaun, Marc, Greg & Ben on this one.  They were instrumental in locating the wreck, and the first divers to see this ship in what has probably been 70 or 80 years.


Target 1 Identified as the Phoenix

We conducted dive ops on the last of the three newly discovered targets in Lake Washington today. 

Attached is the sonar image for Target1; now identified as the Phoenix.  The Phoenix rests in 200ft of water off Madison Park.  Her length is approx 50ft, width: 14ft, 9-10ft rise  

Initially, from a read of the sonar image, I expected Target1 to either be an early century sailboat or, because of the square lines, a PBR type military craft. 

In reality this one appears to be a work or fishing boat of some type, built for offshore use.  The construction is wooden, but the roof is reinforced with GRP (glass reinforced plastic).  There are ‘chain plates’ jutting upward on both sides like sets of metal ribs which look to have supported a small sail. 

Guessing the boat was built no earlier than the 40’s, no later than the 60’s (based on general construction), but sank no earlier than the 60’s.  The later assumption made due to the presence of the GRP.  We also noted there was protection above the forward hatch, used to prevent breaking seas from entering the forecastle, as support for this boat being built for offshore use.   

The Phoenix is very well intact, but generally stripped of equipment.  It has a large main cabin, as well as an aft cabin that extends nearly to the stern.  In the sonar photo what looks like what might be the stern of the wreck with a sail crumpled up behind is actually the back of the aft cabin with about 5 feet of semi collapsed stern deck behind. 

All the cabin access points still house freely swinging doors with glass and brass hardware.  This is not a very common sight for sunken wrecks of Lake Washington.  Most of the cabin windows are still intact as well – a few broken, one with the circular break from a rock or baseball.  It is somewhat of an eerie feeling to be interacting with a wreck that hasn’t been seen for 45+ years, opening doors that have not moved since they last had natural light shining on them.  The first door I opened I half expected some(thing) inside to jump out at us.  : ) 

Inside there is a tarp or sail of some sort which looks like is covering something large, but not wanting to silt out the visibility for the video we were shooting today, decided against disturbing it.  Also inside the cabin, not visible unless you swim inside, is an old ‘pot belly’ stove.  Quite a nice find. 

I hope to have photos of the wreck and some of its artifacts up on the website next week.


Target 3: Gas Powered Craft of the 30’s or 40’s

This past Sunday I made a dive with scret.org friends on the target previously described here as Target 3. This craft is approx 37ft long and is sitting in 200ft of water off Madison Park.

The exact identity of the wreck is unknown.  I’ve attached a side scan sonar image with this post so you can have a look – pay special note to the shadow of the sonar as it reveals quite a bit about the architecture of the boat.  You can clearly see the great condition of the wreck in the sonar image.  The entire cabin of this one is still intact. 

Prior to diving this one, and based on what we were seeing in the sonar image, I expected this wreck to be a small steam tug.  At approx 37feet long it is too small to be a passenger ferry. 

We were surprised to find on diving it that it was a gas powered craft – probably of the 30’s or 40’s. It could be that this wreck was a small work boat – or even a pleasure craft. As can be seen in the sonar image, the wreck is generally intact. The forward and aft cabins are still structurally sound, there is a small washroom sized area inside of the cabin, with its door off the hinges. A single porthole on each side gives peering opportunity into the forward hold.

There is no indication of how or why this boat sank; no sign of fire or collision. The guess is that it was intentionally scuttled as most of her equipment is gone.

I’ll post some underwater photos of this wreck, as well the SS Success, here sometime soon.


Target 3 Sonar