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The Lillian 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.


The Lillian was built in 1920 by the Bethlehem Ship Building Company and was owned and operated byA.H. Bull Steam Ship Company. She had a 328 foot length and a 46 foot beam, displaced 3,482 tons and was powered by 292 nhp triple expansion engines.

On February 26, 1939,while hauling a cargo of sugar into New York, the Lillian ran into a heavy fogbank.  At 6:53 PM, still enveloped in fog, Captain Frank Buyer saw another ship, the Wiegand, steaming directly toward him. Although both ships tried evasive maneuvers, it was too late.  The Lillian rammed the Lloyd Line freighter on her starboard bow, giving her a twelve foot gash.  This hole was above the water line and caused no immediate danger to the Wiegand.  The Lillian, however, suffered greatly and almost immediately started to sink.  Before abandoning ship, William Helmbold, the radio operator, locked his key to send a continuous SOS signal.  This action not only helped the Coast Guard home in on the sinking vessel and rescue her 17 crew members but caused havoc on the radio waves for nearly eight hours. It seemed the Lillian was not ready to quickly settle into her watery grave.  The vessel remained afloat with her radio automatically sending SOS signals. The Coast Guard finally had to shoot down her aerial to clear the radio waves. Ironically, after staying afloat for 18 hours after her collision , the Lillian finally sank when the salvage ship, Relief, had just come within sight.

The Lillian rests in150 feet of water, 38 miles out of Debs Inlet. According to John Lachenmayer, this wreck is laid out similar to the Iberia only deeper. Her hull supports a wide array of life, including cod, ling and lobsters, while being in deep enough water to bring in sharks and, on occasion, giant tuna.

Bill Chambers and Andrew Nagle with a porthole recovered from the Lillian wreck. Photo courtesy Andrew Nagle.

Lillian Wreck. Courtesy Dan Berg Wreck Valley Collection.

Capt. John Lachenmayer with porthole from the Lillian Wreck. Courtesy Dan Berg Wreck Valley Collection.






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