Eastern Rig Dragger Edna G

In 2003, sanctuary researchers located the eastern rig dragger Edna G. off Gloucester, MA in over 300 feet of water. The eastern rig dragger can best be described as a wooden-hulled engine-powered fishing vessel that deployed, towed, and recovered its otter trawl net or dredge over the starboard or port side as opposed to over the stern as done in modern trawlers.  These gasoline or diesel powered vessels were a transitional design between earlier wooden sailing schooners and modern steel trawlers.

Edna G
Eastern rig dragger Edna G. during its sea trials off North Carolina in 1956. (National Fishermen July 1956, courtesy of Maine Maritime Museum).

The Morehead City Shipbuilding Corporation of Morehead City, North Carolina built the Edna G. in 1956.  The dragger measured 54 feet long by 16 feet wide with a 6 foot depth of hold.  The Edna G. fished down south for Earl Holton of the Pamlico Packing Company until 1972 when it moved up to Portland, Maine.  Its homeport changed to Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1977.  Between 1977 and its loss in 1988, the dragger fished for groundfish under captains Joseph Lochirco, Salvatore Sciortino, Pasquale Vitale, and Antonio Romeo.

Gloucester Daily Times article about Edna G
Gloucester Daily Times headline announcing the Edna G.’s loss.

Around 5:30 am on 30 June 1988 the Edna G.’s crew, consisting of Antonio Romeo and his brother Giuseppe, heard a strange noise in the engine room while they were deploying the trawl net.  When they went below, they found the engine room filling with water. Thirty minutes later the dragger sank leaving the two men afloat in a dory. They were rescued by the fishing vessel Padro Pio and eventually transferred to a Coast Guard vessel which took them back to Gloucester.  The cause of the sinking was never determined.

The sanctuary is investigating the Edna G. shipwreck to shed light on a rapidly disappearing watercraft variety emblematic of New England’s fishing heritage. When it was found, researchers examined the site with an ROV, photographing diagnostic features, such as its winch and wheelhouse. These features and the site’s dimensions were compared to shipwrecks reported in the historical record leading to its identification as the Edna G.

The shipwreck's bow (NOAA/SBNMS, NURC-UConn, and the Science Channel).

Wooden Hull
Edna G.’s wooden hull was almost completely intact aside from a hole on its portside under the pilothouse. This hole likely caused the vessel to sink (NOAA/SBNMS, NURC-UConn, and the Science Channel).

trawl winch
The shipwreck’s trawl winch was positioned fore and aft along the vessel’s port side; therefore, the vessel towed its net off the starboard side (NOAA/SBNMS, NURC-UConn, and the Science Channel).

Edna G.’s wheelhouse was still intact including most if its glass windows and its helm (NOAA/SBNMS, NURC-UConn, and the Science Channel). 

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
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