The Black Warrior Shipwreck
New York and New Jersey's (Wreck Valley)
Historical and current New York and New Jersey Shipwreck Information and images for scuba
divers and fisherman.
Black Warrior was built 1852 in New York at a cost of $135,000 and owned by the
New York and New Orleans Steamship Co. The wood ship was 225 feet in length and
weighed 1,556 gross tons. Aside from being fully rigged with sails, the 37 foot
beam was flanked by two steam driven side wheels.
Black Warrior carried mail, passengers and cargo through her voyages, most of
which were between New York, New Orleans and Havana, Cuba.
most notable voyage was on February 28, 1854, when she was seized by the newly
appointed governor of Cuba. The governor stated that the Alabama cotton on board
the ship should have been listed for the Havana customs people. Captain Bullock
of the Black Warrior tried to explain that since the cotton wasn't being
unloaded in Havana, he was within regulations. Despite his arguments, the
Captain and his crew were forced to leave the ship while Cuban officials
confiscated the cargo. After transferring the Warrior's crew to the American
steamer, Fulton, which was then loading in Havana, the Cuban officials imposed a
$6,000 fine and detained the Warrior.
forces in this country used the Warrior incident as a reason to demand war with
Spain. Their hope was to add Cuba as another slave territory. Fortunately, Spain
surrendered her position and not only repaid the original fine of $6,000 but an
additional compensation of $53,000 for the detention of the Warrior.
another journey in 1857, the Black Warrior was caught in a furious gale. All of
her coal was consumed trying to keep the ship running, while her wheel-house and
life boats were knocked away by the sea. According to the NEW YORK TIMES, "
Captain Smithmanifested the
qualities of the cool and skillful." He ordered that all light wood work,
furniture and any remaining spars be used as fuel to power her steam engine. His
seamanship brought all passengers and crew to safety.
February 20, 1859, about 9:00 AM, while trying to enter New York harbor in a
heavy fog, the captain of the Black Warrior ran his ship aground on Rockaway
Bar. All passengers, crew and cargo were brought safely to New York by the
assisting vessels, Screamer, Achilles and Edwin Blount. At first, she was
resting easy and no trouble was anticipated in towing her off. Unfortunately,
The Black Warrior struck at high tide, and although during the next few days
every effort was made to save her, she settled deeper and deeper into thesand. Finally, on February 24, during high tide, she was moved about one
hundred feetbefore grounding
again. That same day a gale blew up and the once proud Black Warrior was pounded
Warrior now rests in 30 to 35 five feet of water.She is all broken up and spread out over a large area.Although most of her brass artifacts have been recovered,
lucky divers may still find anything from brass spikes, silverware, and
portholes. Take note that the eating utensils found here have the vessel's name
engraved on their handles.In the
past eight years, we have made many dives on this wreck, and although the site
is home to some huge black fish which would be great for spear fishing, we have
always been content to find a spot in the sand and dig for artifacts.
This wreck is only a mile offshore from the Cornelia
Explorers Inc. would like to announce that a 2000 pound ten foot long fluted
anchor was successfully salvaged from the wreck of the Black Warrior. Marine
Historian and author Daniel Berg coordinated and planned the project with Rich
Fryberg of Subsalve Liftbags.
August 12 of 1994 divers Mike McMeekin, Lou Schriner, Joe Koppelman, Ed Jenny
and Rich Fryberg from Subsalve Lift Bags boarded the R.V. Wreck Valley. Led by
veteran wreck diver Daniel Berg the team planned on filming photographing and
raising the Black Warrior's ten foot long 2000 pound fluted anchor. Heavy
salvage requires not only the proper equipment but planning. The team rigged the
anchor so she would draw only five feet of water. This was critical since the
artifact would have to be towed through several shallow waterways. At 10:00 AM
the artifact was raised off the sandy bottom after over 135 years of submersion.
The salvage was completed with the use of two 2000 pound Subsalve commercial
lift bags which floated the heavy anchor to the surface. Conditions both topside
and underwater were perfect the sea was flat calm and visibility underwater
exceeded 30 feet. Divers from the Research Vessel WRECK VALLEY then began the
long twelve hour tow back to shore. A few days latter a tow trucks hydraulic
winch was utilized to haul the anchor onto shore. Local TV and Newspaper
reporters were on hand to interview the divers as well as photograph the dynamic
scene. The Black Warrior's anchor is now undergoing a lengthy preservation and
restoration process after which she will be put on display. The entire operation
was filmed and photographed for use not only in an upcoming book project, but
also to air on SPORTSCHANNEL cable Networks ongoing DIVE WRECK VALLEY television
Steve Bielenda and Dan Berg
with anchor salvaged from the Black Warrior shipwreck.
on 10-28-01 Capt Ed Slater surfaced from his dive and asked if I could
go down and help him recover a large pc of brass. The brass looked like
a screen but was wedged under the wreck. Ed had spent his entire dive
working on the artifact but was now running low on air. I jumped in and
quickly found the spot. Visibility had cleared a bit and I could see a
rock wedging the brass in place. It only took a couple minutes and Ed's
artifact was free. It was then that I noticed a shinny object half
buried in the sand. Ed had found a strainer from a sink. I found a gold
ring which had once been lost in the Black Warrior's plumbing.
Scanning sonar image of the
Black Warrior after Hurricane Irene 2011. Compare this image to the side
scan image above to see how much of the wreck was exposed from the
Black Warrior shipwreck artifacts. Courtesy Al Golden
Denise and Chris Berg with Black Warriors Anchor. Photo by Dan Berg
Sketch of the Black Warrior Shipwreck site. By Daniel Berg
Black Warrior sunk 1859. Courtesy Wreck Valley Collection
Porthole from Black Warrior sunk 1859. Courtesy Wreck Valley Collection
Side Scan sonar image of the black warrior shipwreck area. Note the boiler and mast. Copyright Wreck Valley/ Capt. Dan Berg
Capt. Ed Slater with a brass artifact recovered from the Black Warrior wreck in 2005. Photo by Dan Berg.
Photos: Black Warrior sunk
1859. Courtesy Wreck Valley Collection
Mike McMeekin with a fork from the Black Warrior
Steve Bielenda with anchor salvaged from the Black Warrior
2745 Cheshire Dr
Baldwin NY 11510 Phone/Fax 516 868-2658
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