The Atlantus Shipwreck
New York and New Jersey's (Wreck Valley)
Historical and current New York ands New jersey Shipwreck Information and images for scuba
divers and fisherman.
DIRECTIONS: (Cape May Point, Cape May County)
Take the Garden State Parkway south to the end. Travel west on
Sunset Boulevard (Route 606) to Sunset Beach. You will come to a
parking lot at road's end.
During World War I, while there was a shortage of steel the United
States government began to search for alternative materials for ship
construction. The Atlantus was one of twelve experimental concrete
ships. She was built by the Liberty Shipbuilding Co. of Brunswick,
Georgia, in their Wilmington, North Carolina shipyard. The Atlantus
was 250 feet long, had a 43foot beam and displaced 2,500 tons. She
was completed on November 21st and launched on December 4, 1918. The
Atlantus made several Atlantic crossings, and even transported
soldiers home from France after World I ended. Cathie Cush reported
in UNDERWATER USA that, "Although the concrete hulls were more
brittle than steel, the concrete ships were less susceptible to
vibration from their 1,400 horsepower oil fired steam engines than
their steel counterparts." After the war there was not much need for
a concert hulled vessel and the Atlantus was removed from service.
In 1920, the Atlantus was stripped near Norfolk, Virginia. In 1925
her hull was purchased by the National Navigation Co. The firm was
planning to start a ferry service from Cape May, New Jersey to
Lewes, Delaware. Elaborate plans were made to beach the Atlantus and
use her as a ferry terminal. First, a dredge would dig a channel
into the beach. The Atlantus would be pushed into the channel, and
then a gate would be cut into her stern. A ramp would be built for
passenger entry and her superstructure removed so her decks could
accommodate motor vehicles.
Because of mother nature, these grand plans never became a reality.
On June 8, 1926, a storm struck the cape. The Atlantus broke free of
her mooring and came grounded off Sunset Beach, Cape May. Attempts
were made to pull her back into deeper water but they were not
Today, the deteriorating remains of the concrete ship lie in 20 feet
of water, with a slight list to her port side. The vessel has broken
in half and her superstructure has collapsed. According to Cathie
Cush, an avid diver and writer, ";On calm days at slack tide, it's
possible to swim out to the concrete ship"; Cathie goes on to say
that, " The site can be deceptive, and both divers and snorklers
should approach the wreck with care" Its location at the southern
tip of New Jersey puts it near the Mouth of Delaware Bay,
making tidal currents a significant consideration. It would be
nearly impossible for a diver to swim back to the beach against an
outgoing tide."; Gary Gentile in his book "SHIPWRECKS OF NEW JERSEY"
warns "; Approaching the wreck from the water one should also be
careful of getting impaled on exposed reinforcing rods that face
upward through the waves like punji stakes.";
Diver Bill Davis noted on a recent dive that many one and two pound
sea bass inhabited the wreckage. Bill also spoke to a fishermen who
was anchored to the opposite side of the wreck. The angler had just
caught a striped bass and reported that he often catches stripers,
blues, weakfish and flounder around the wreck.
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