SS Mohegan conspiracy


James Hill

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Feb 20, 2002
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Having visited a few sites on the Mohegan I`ve found out about a plot thats seems almost beleivable.Captain Griffiths of the Mohegan,commodore of the Atlantic Transport Line and also a shareholder in the line was apparently in a considerable amount of debt at the time of the Mohegans foundering and some people even to this day suspect Griffiths deliberatly ran his vessel into the Manacles (the Manacles are rocks which have claimed many ships and their crew)of Cornwall.To claim the insurance money and clear the debt.When a rescue operation was mounted a man in evening clothes was saved.The second the boat came onto the beach he lept of,ran through the village,up the valley and was never seen again.Was this Captain Griffiths ?Does this plot sound familiar ?But I don`t think it could be true since a headless torso that was dressed in a Captain`s uniform was washed ashore a few days later.Was the man a hysterical survivor ?There is also a rumour that she is you guessed it haunted.Over the years divers on the wreck have reported some strange goings on.The ships boilers for instance have the hands and fingers of the stokers who serviced them.A note to anyone in the UK who dives.You can dive the Mohegan wreck any time,any day you wish there are no restrictions.There are tons of china plates about that you are allowed to take home.I wish I could dive so I could see the ship.Note the ship is badly broken up and some pecies of the wreck are reported to be unstable.It would be good if someone from the board dived the wreck and told us about it.I wish the Mohegans story was aknowledged more as I belive it to be a truly interesting wreck.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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LoL! Looking at the title of this thread, I'm beginning to wonder if there's any shipwreck that doesn't have a conspiracy theory attached...

I agree with you that the Mohegan's story is fascinating, James. I looked into her when I was still in the UK and tossing up the idea of donning a dry-suit and getting some wreck diving in.

I posted on another on-line forum about the ghost stories connected with her (the folklore collector in me keeps a bit of an ear out for ghost stories connected with scuba diving - I come across them suprisingly often).

There are some good on-line sites, some of which you've probably already looked at, complete with photos of her on the Manacles. For those who are interested, this first one also has photos, including one of Captain Griffiths and another of the mass grave in St Keverne's:

http://www.submerged.co.uk/mohegan.htm

This one has material drawn from local oral history:
http://www.st-keverne.com/history/Mohegan/mohegan.html

Here's info on diving the wreck:
http://www.divernet.com/wrecks/wtour81099.htm

This page, also from divernet, rehashes the story, and mentions the haunting angle:
http://www.divernet.com/history/0903factorfiction.shtml

I wouldn't recommend souveniring items from the wreck, however, and many divers frown upon this practice. Conservation of marine artifacts is a specialised field, and far too many sport divers take items that they have no idea how to preserve - gradually they crumble away (which is not to say that some sport divers, who can be knowledgeable and conscientous, do not have something to contribute to underwater archaeology). People lost their lives on this wreck - I don't think it's appropriate to nab things from her willy-nilly as they take our fancy. Laws on the preservation of marine wrecks are also evolving, and it's wise to familiarise yourself with these before diving an historic wreck - Britain is taking steps to preserve its underwater maritime heritage.
 

James Hill

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Feb 20, 2002
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I went on to diver.net`s page on the Mohegan.All the divers there were artifact mad!One was really down because he could`nt get an almost intact champagne bottle!I wonder how Captain Griffiths body was in the mentioned state.A few years ago the BBC had a program about ghosts.Did anyone see this?On the last episode it mentioned the Mohegan and went into it.I was interested but fell asleep as I was extremley tired at the time I saw it.The Mohegans tragic story should be told more.As I see it it is one of the most overlooked ships in history.Sorry if I`m exagerating to much.
 

Inger Sheil

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I don't know if it's one of the most overlooked, James - sadly, there were many maritime accidents in that era. Even more lives were lost when the Yongala went down in 1911 - all souls on board, over 120 people. There are many tragedies of that era that are even less well known today than the Mohegan - the Mohegan, because she is such an interesting dive site, is probably better known than most disasters of a similar scale.

I didn't see the BBC program - sounds interesting.

There are some sections of the diving community who will grab things willy-nilly off the bottom. Some do take care to preserve items they salvage, so I wouldn't want to tar them all with the same brush. Some are simply avaricious - did anyone catch the program that aired here in Oz recently about Guadalcanal wrecks? They found a previously unlocated wreck and, when diving it, found the bell intact. Within days of the discovery, as they were still filming the doco, the bell was removed from the wreck (contrary to preservation regulations). The authorities were searching hotels and luggage to try and locate it, but there was no word on its recovery by the time the film crew had left the Solomons.

Other divers, who care deeply for marine heritage and its preservation, work to preserve artifacts (either on the sea floor or through salvaging them).
 

Dave Moran

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Apr 23, 2002
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What great sites, and quite a chilling story. Thanks for posting it all.

What was the story of the Yongala, Inger ?
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Hallo Dave -

The Yongala is a bit of a favourite of mine - certainly out of all the wrecks I've dived. The story itself, as well as the extraordinary beauty of the wreck today, are hauntingly compelling.

Here's a link to a site about her:

http://www.townsvillemaritimemuseum.org.au/Yongala.htm

I note that the most recent figures I've seen for those lost with her seem to be around the 124 figure. I'd originally heard the passenger and crew figures came to 120 on the list, with one baby in arms taking it to 121.

She was lost in 1911 in a cyclone near Cape Bowling Green, and until the wreck was located by WWII sonar scans and then dived in the 50s, her fate was one of the areas mysteries - there were no bodies recovered, although some wreckage did wash ashore.

Here's an article on diving the wreck:
http://www.saudidiving.com/yongala.htm

and a site that includes a gallery of images:
http://yongaladive.com.au/

I spend a day and night diving her - absolutely breathtaking experience. She's crawling with seasnakes, large grouper, schools of trevally and barracuda, and at night the biggest stingrays I've ever seen hovered over us. We were joined on the first dive by a friendly turtle, who swam the length of the ship with us. Seeing the light of the torches disappearing into the depths of her hull was particularly eerie.

Max Gleeson wrote a rather good book about her titled 'SS Yongala: Townsville's Titanic.' My copy seems to have gone walkabout, however.

She also has had the odd conspiracy theory connected with her - a rather sinister spin was put on a chance remark of her Captain's along the lines of 'nothing is going to part me from the old girl'.

James, I haven't dived the Mohegan, but it's on the list of worldwide wrecks I'd like to visit some day.
 

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