Letter: Salvor’s plan to refloat Yankee didn’t go so well

EastBayRI.com ·

To the editor:

My last report told about the U. S. Navy ship Yankee going aground off Westport. 

Applications were sent out by the Navy asking for bids to salvage the ship. A Mr. Arbuckle from Brooklyn N.Y. had no experience salvaging anything but the Navy liked his idea. 

Mr Arbuckle got together all the equipment to do the job.  All openings in the ship were sealed and two big air compressors were placed on the deck. Air was pumped into the ship until it floated. 

Mr. Arbuckle’s contract called for the Yankee to be towed into Newport, R.I.  Before the tow started, however, the wind began to blow strong from the southwest.  The tug was connected and the ship was pulled from the ledge. Because of the strong wind, it was decided to take the Yankee into New Bedford. 

Off Dumpling Rock in Dartmouth, the tow line parted.  The tug came alongside to pass a new towline but, because of the rolling seas, the tug smashed a port hole on the ship.  The air came boiling out of the opening and the ship went to the bottom.  I have not checked a chart but I believe there must be at least 10 fathoms of depth there. The government removed all superstructure so other vessels could safely pass over. 

Famous scuba diver Brad Luther and others have had great times diving on the wreck.  Looking backwards it seems a decision should have been made to let the ship sink back on the ledge until calmer waters came back.

Carlton “Cukie” Macomber