Acme II

During a systematic side scan sonar survey, sanctuary archaeologists located a sonar target with shipwreck characteristics at a depth of 400 feet approximately 20 miles off Gloucester, MA.  In partnership with the National Undersea Research Center at the University of Connecticut, researchers investigated the target with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).  The ROV survey revealed a steel stern trawler sitting upright on a muddy bottom.

side scan 

bow bow 
The trawler’s bow was encrusted with bright yellow sponges

 pilothouse port door 
The trawler’s pilothouse had round windows and its port side door sat open (right) (NOAA/SBNMS and NURC-UConn).

stern  stern
Two views of the shipwreck’s stern showing its trawl winches

After investigating the shipwreck, archaeologists began searching Gloucester newspapers and talking to fishermen about the wreck.  These efforts led to Captain Phil “Filippo” Cusumano, whose family owned a fishing vessel that had sunk years earlier. After reviewing the underwater video, Captain Cusumano determined that the shipwreck was his family’s vessel, the Acme II.

Acme II 
The Acme II (courtesy of Phil Cusumano).

Acme II 
The Acme II at dock (courtesy of Phil Cusumano).

The Acme II was built in Biloxi, Mississippi in 1966.  It measured 65 feet long and 20 feet wide with a gross tonnage of 89 and a net tonnage of 60.  The vessel was groundfishing off Thatcher’s Island on 6 September 1988 when its engine room began flooding. In less than seven minutes, the Acme II sank. Its two crewmembers were rescued by the nearby fishing vessel Italia.

The sanctuary would like to thank Captain Phil “Filippo” Cusumano for identifying the shipwreck and providing the above images. Please visit his website at to view his marine art.


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