The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
John McKerchey (Dredge), U203204, sunk, 14 Oct 1950

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      Captain Dies at Post as Lake Ship Sinks
      [Free Press Wire Service]
LORAIN, O. - The Coast Guard opened an investigation to determine what cause the 151-foot sand dredge John McKerchey to sink in Lake Erie here Monday. The ship's captain, Horace Johnson, 46, of Monroe, Mich., went down with the vessel as it settled in 30 feet of water.
The other 19 crew members were rescued by Coast Guard boats only minutes after the ship sank. A commercial diver recovered Johnson's body later in the place the crew last saw him - the pilot house. Survivors said that in the tradition of sea captains, he remained with his vessel to the last, sounding a warning to the crew to abandon ship.
THE McKERCHEY was loaded with 700 tons of sand. The vessel was owned by the Kelley's Island Lime and Transportation Co. of Cleveland. Five crewmen were fished out of the cold water and 14 were taken off a lifeboat they had launched from the McKerchey. Crewmen said the vessel sprang a leak on the way to Lorain Sunday night, started taking on water, and capsized when only about 15 minutes from port. Second mate Louis Hasler, of Marine City, Mich., was credited with waking the sleeping crew members in time to get them off the sinking vessel safely.
      FIVE CREWMEN taken to a hospital here, none injured seriously, were: Chief engineer Roscoe Thomas, of Detroit; First Assistant Engineer Ora Harris, of Fremont, Mich.; Wheelsman Angel Hetrick, of Norway, and Elmer Norwick, of Sterling, Mich., and Watchman William Gang, of Florida.
Other crewmen included Second Mate Louis Hasler, of Marine City, Mich.; Third Mate Ed Farley, of Chicago; Crane Operator Albert Doruin, of River Rouge, Mich. Wheelsman Percy Ward, of Marine City, Mich.; Konrad Brovog, of Muskegon, Mich.; Firemen Jack Conway, of Detroit and Peter Huus and Chris Timmerman, both of New York City.
      Capt. Johnson Planned to Retire from Lakes
      [Special to the Free Press]
MONROE - Capt. Horace Johnson came to Monroe with his wife and son Allen, 15, in 1940. He was port captain at Monroe seven years and had charge of the ships of the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. berthed here during winters. He had been with the company 24 years and had sailed the lakes 28 years. He had planned to retire from the lake service this winter and take up business ashore.
      Detroit Free Press
      Tuesday Oct 17, 1950

JOHN McKERCHEY. Built May 19, 1906 Sand Boat
U.S. No. 203628. 723 gt - 443 nt 161.0 x 37.1 x 11.0
      Capsized and foundered off Lorain, Ohio, Lake Erie, October 16, 1950; one life lost. Wreck removed as menace to navigation in 1954.
      Great Lakes Emgineering Works, [Ecorse], Master Shipbuilding list
      Institute for Great lakes Research
      Perrysburg, Ohio

Media Type:
Item Type:
Reason: sunk
Lives: 1
Freight: sand
Remarks: Total loss
Date of Original:
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ohio, United States
    Latitude: 41.45282 Longitude: -82.18237
William R. McNeil
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John McKerchey (Dredge), U203204, sunk, 14 Oct 1950