Joffre

Listed on National Register of Historic Places
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Archaeologists have identified the remains of the eastern rig dragger Joffre in over 300 feet of water off Gloucester, MA.  Joffre’s extant remains consisted of its lower hull structure, propulsion components, vessel hardware, and fishing gear. 

Joffre 1
The Joffre was built as an auxiliary schooner in Essex, MA in 1918
(Atlantic Fisherman July 1932, Maine Maritime Museum).

 
Designed by renowned naval architect Thomas F. McManus, Arthur D. Story of Essex, MA launched the auxiliary fishing schooner Joffre in 1918.  Initially, Joffre entered the mackerel seine fishery, but within a year, its owners set the schooner after groundfish.  During the 1920s, Joffre’s crew landed record catches of halibut.  After dory trawling for haddock and halibut for nearly twenty years, Joffre’s new captain, Simon Theriault, convertedthe 105-foot long vessel into an eastern rig dragger to pursue Acadian Redfish, a rapidly developing fishery.  Joffre’s working life spans the mechanization of New England’s fisheries and exemplifies the transition from sail to diesel power.  During its 29 year career it landed over 15 million pounds of fish.

Eastern Rig Dragger
The Joffre was converted to an eastern rig dragger in 1939
(Atlantic Fisherman November 1943, Maine Maritime Museum).

 
After a routine ten-day fishing trip to Nova Scotia’s offshore banks, the Joffre’s engine caught fire as it was returning to Gloucester, MA on the evening of 9 August 1947.  The fire quickly engulfed the wheelhouse and engine spaces forcing the ten-man crew to abandon ship into dories without gathering their personal effects.  Despite efforts to quench the blaze and tow the vessel to port, the Joffre sank the next morning.

Joffre’s Crew on Its Final Trip:

Captain Simon P. Theriault (owner/skipper) of Gloucester, MA
Charles Frank Parsons (engineer) of Gloucester, MA
Clifford E. Smith (second engineer) of Gloucester, MA
Freeman A. Frelick (cook) of Gloucester, MA
Burton Holliday of Gloucester, MA
William “Red” Ryan of Gloucester, MA
Millard L. Campbell of Gloucester, MA
George Edgar Hubbard of Gloucester, MA
Manley P. Gray of Gloucester, MA
Cass Isaacs of Everett, MA

Engine  Trawl
 
The Joffre’s diesel engine (left) and trawl winch (right) are characteristics of eastern rig draggers (NOAA/SBNMS and NURC-UConn).

When NOAA archaeologists investigated an unidentified shipwreck with a remotely operated (ROV), in partnership with the National Undersea Research Center at the University of Connecticut, they found the lower portion of wooden hull, a large trawl winch, and gallows frames, which indicated that the vessel was an eastern rig dragger.  The shipwreck’s single most diagnostic feature was a large 8-cylinder Fairbanks-Morse diesel engine still connected to its propeller.  NOAA archaeologists compared the shipwreck’s dimensions, location, and characteristics to archival records to identify the shipwreck as the Joffre.
    
AnchorStern

The Joffre’s bow was marked by an anchor (left) and its stern was identified by its propeller (right) (NOAA/SBNMS and NURC-UConn).

Future study of the site will provide information about shipboard life, the vessel’s adaptation from dory trawling schooner to eastern rig dragger, and its wrecking event.



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