Numerous shipwrecks, time capsules of the nation's maritime heritage, sit on the sanctuary's seafloor. Under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and the National Historic Preservation Act, sanctuaries are required to locate, assess, protect, manage, and interpret their maritime heritage resources. Through the interpretation of these archaeological resources, the sanctuary works to increase public understanding of New England's links to the sea and foster stewardship of America's maritime legacy.
The sanctuary has initiated a voluntary Shipwreck Avoidance Program, in cooperation with NOAA Fisheries, to protect wrecks from inadvertent damage from interactions with fishing gear.
To learn more about the sanctuary's shipwrecks click on the individual shipwrecks below.
This passenger steamship sank in The Portland Gale of 1898 with the loss of all passengers and crew. It has been called “the Titanic of New England.”
Schooners Frank A. Palmer and Louise B. Crary
These two coal schooners crashed as they hastened to Boston after weather delays in December 1902. The ships lie upright on the bottom still linked at their bows.
Schooner Paul Palmer
This collier's last voyage was truly unlucky. It departed Bangor, Maine on Friday, July 13, 1913. After a fire broke out, the ship burned to the waterline and sank.
After 45 years of carrying cargo, the cut granite basin heads proved to be the final ordeal. Shifting stone, stormy seas and a leaky hull led to the 1893 sinking.
Eastern-Rig Dragger Joffre
As fishing techniques changed, so did the ships. This two-masted auxiliary gas schooner transitioned from dory trawler to eastern rig dragger. It sank in 1947.
Eastern-Rig Dragger Edna G
New England's fishing vessels have evolved over time. This purpose-built eastern-rig dragger provides an excellent example of the early-to-mid 20th century style.
Major energy transporters of the 18th and 19th centuries, coal schooners traveled extensively along the coast. This vessel met its demise east of Stellwagen Bank.
Pentagoet (suspected, STB007)
The wreck site indicates a wooden-hulled steamship that might be another victim of the great Portland Gale of 1898. The captain and 17 crew were lost.
While groundfishing off Thacher Island in 1988, the two crew members found the engine room flooding. The ship sank but the crew survived.
The 80-foot steel-hulled trawler, built in 1969, was lost on February 1, 1992 as it returned to Gloucester from a routine fishing trip.
An eastern-rig dragger, converted from trawler to clam dredge, capsized and sank on Stellwagen Bank in 2003. The dredge appears to be caught on boulders.
This steel-hulled western-rig dragger, built in 1997, capsized after hauling in its net. Two crew members were drowned in the 2009 sinking.
This unidentified vessel broke into four main components that now rest atop Stellwagen Bank under the Outbound Lane of Boston's Traffic Separation Scheme.
Originally a U.S.Navy minesweeper, this 97-foot, wood-hulled vessel caught fire and sank 15 miles southeast of Gloucester in 1969 on its way to Georges Bank fishing grounds. All crew survived.