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The USS TARANTULA 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.
 

  Commonly known as the Gun Boat, the identity of this wreck had been unknown since she was originally located by Jay Porter. She was given the name Gun Boat by divers who noticed the armament that she had carried.

 In 1985, Billy "Bubbles" deMarigny, a local diver, found and recovered the ship's brass bell. Inscribed on the bell was the ship's true name, Tarantula. The Tarantula was a private steam yacht. But why would a yacht be armored?. Through some research, I believe I've found the answer.

 While researching the name, Tarantula, I came across two ships. Both were yachts owned by W.K. Vanderbilt, one built in 1902 and the other in 1912. I thought I had found the answer when I read that the ship built in 1902 had been commissioned by the Canadian Navy  during WW I. This ship was renamed the H.M.C.S. Tuna and would have certainly explained the wreck's guns, but unfortunately my early assumption was wrong. The Tuna had never sunk; she was sold in 1918 and eventually stripped for salvage. The Gun Boat wreck off of Long Island was the 128 foot by 19 foot, 159 ton U.S.S. Tarantula, built by George Lawley and Son Corp in 1912. She was in service with the U.S.Navy at the time of her loss. After a collision with the Royal Holland Loyd Line steamship, SS Frisia, on October 28, 1918, the Tarantula sunk.

 In 1988, Steve Bielenda and I were filming the marine life on this wreck. I was filming a three foot Angler fish swimming over some low lying wreckage when we both noticed the outline of another angler fish hidden in the sand. The second fish was huge, almost five feet long and most definitely the largest fish of this species either Steve or I have ever seen. We also found a few 40 pound cod fish and an eight pound lobster. We were both amazed at the quantity and size of marine life inhabiting this little wreck.

 Today, the U.S.S. Tarantula lies 22 miles off Jones Inlet in 115 feet of water. If you want to dive on her or fish over this wreck, most captains know her as the Good Gun Boat wreck. The remains are very low lying with only her boilers coming off the bottom about seven feet. She lies in a straight line. Her bow, which only protrudes about three feet off the bottom, still has a navy anchor in place on the starboard side. Divers can dig just ahead of the boilers for ammunition or behind the boilers for china and silverware.

 

 

Shipwreck in a Bottle.
Replica of the Tarantula built by Capt. Dan Berg in 2010. To see additional shipwrecks in bottles or to learn about building ship in a bottle click link below.

Ships in a Bottle

 

Tarantula. Photo courtesy Wreck Valley Collection

Dan Berg with artifacts from the Tarantula Wreck

Model of the Tarantula. Phot courtesy Capt. Dan Berg

Underwater sketch of the Tarantula by Dan Berg

Diver aboard the charter boat Wreck Valley with a spoon recovered from the Tarantul Shipwreck. Photo by Dan Berg

The Yacht Tarantula. Courtesy Wreck Valley Collection

Steve Jonassen and Dan Berg with a small anchor and lobster recovered from the Tarantula Shipwreck. Photo courtesy Wreck Valley Collection.

Artifacts from the Tarantula. Wreck Valley Collection.

Crew from the Wreck Valley after a dredge trip to the Tarantula.

   
 

 

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Capt. Dan Berg and Jamie Arkins with brass clock recovered from the Tarantula Shipwreck.


Bell recovered from the Tarantula Shipwreck. Photo by Dan Berg

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 

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