By Capt. Dan Berg
Photo: Stern of the
Iristo wreck. Photo by Alan Marquardt. Portholes recovered from the
Iristo Shipwreck. Photo by Peter Phillips.
The Norwegian steamer, Iristo, was built in 1918 by American
SB. Company., Lorain, Ohio. Originally named Lake Jessup, she
was 251 feet long, had a 43.5 foot beam and displaced 1,821 gross
tons. This vessel was going to be named War Briar and was
contracted to be built by the British Government. However, when the
United States entered World War I, all merchant ships being built in
the U.S. were requisitioned by the U.S. Shipping Board. She was sold
in 1921 to the International Coal Transportation Corp. She was sold
again in 1925 to Norwegian owners andre-named Ekstrand. She
was again sold in 1935 to Hans F. Grann and re-named Iristo.
On March 15, 1937, under the command of Captain Christian Stephensen,
she was enroute from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Bermuda, with a
cargo of flour, 200 barrels of gasoline, a steam roller and afire
engine. Captain Christian spotted the Cristobal Colon, a ship
that had run aground the year before and was sitting high on the
submerged reef, and assumed she was under way and in the channel,
even though the Colon's wreck information had been posted in
Notice to Mariners. He ordered a change of course and actually
followed the Cristobal Colon into the reefs about two miles
off North Rock. She was pulled off at about 4:00 PM the same day by
a salvage tug from St. George's. The next day, while in tow, the
Iristo sunk one mile east of the North East Breakers to her final
resting place due to the wounds she had suffered on the reef.
Captain Stephensen was blamed for the wreck by the Marine Board of
Inquiry. He was charged with negligence for having no local charts
or the knowledge published in the Notice to Mariners about the year
old Cristobal Colon wreck.
This wreck is known locally as the Aristo. This spelling may
have come from the original New York Times report on the wreck in
which reporters misspelled her name.
Today, the Iristo is resting very close to the
Colon wreck on a sand and coral bottom in 50 to 55 feet of
water. Her stern and bow are intact, and divers will find two large
anchors, her boilers, engine and a broken propeller that all make
for excellent photo opportunities.
The information listed
above was taken with permission from the Book:
BERMUDA SHIPWRECKS, ISBN # 0-9616167-4-1
A Vacationing Divers Guide to Bermudas Shipwrecks,
by Dan and Denise Berg, 6x9 softcover,73 pages.
Now also Available as
an instant download printable PDF eBook
BERMUDA SHIPWRECKS ebook
A Vacationing Divers Guide to Bermudas Shipwrecks
4.5 MB instant download, printable PDF file
by Dan and Denise Berg, 6x9, 73 page
From the first quarter of the 16th century,
Bermuda became a landmark for
Spanish ships sailing back to Spain from the New World. The desire to sight
Bermuda to confirm their position often ended their voyage as they wrecked
on Bermuda's outer reefs. To this day Bermuda's treacherous reefs have taken
their toll on shipping. The reefs have claimed vessels ranging from ocean
lines to small fishing boats. Bermuda Shipwrecks is the most comprehensive,
accurate, illustrated collection of information, photographs, sketches and
stories ever written about the legendary wrecks around Bermuda. Bermuda
Shipwrecks includes over 100 illustrations comprised of 61 sensational color
photos, 17 rare b&w historical images, 19 stamps, 4 sketches plus one
map. Bermuda Shipwrecks contains a wealth of enlightening information that
gives the readers a nostalgic glimpse into the history and present condition
of over 55 of Bermuda's most popular Shipwrecks.
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other shipwreck and Diving eBooks