Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), Sat., May 4, 1878
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THE SINKING OF THE PRINCE ALFRED. - About half past 5 o'clock yesterday morning, the wrecking tug Prince Alfred, while lying at her dock at Windsor, quietly took a notion to sink, without any previous warning. For a day or two since, some repairs had been going forward to her engines and boilers. At 6 o'clock Thursday night Captain Innes left the boat in good condition and all right, as he supposed. She has not been in the habit of leaking, and at that time was dry as a bone. At 11 o'clock, the mate, who sleeps on board, turned in. At that time everything bore its usual appearance. At 4 o'clock in the morning, the mate was awakened by the captain of the Princess Alexandra, lying alongside the Prince Alfred, who informed him that the wrecker was rapidly going down. Thus aroused, the mate soon perceived that nothing could be done, and one hour and a half later down she went in about 80 feet of water. Her spar and smoke stack are all that can be seen above the surface. As everything appeared to be all right the evening before the sinking, there can be but one theory for the disaster, and that is that the boat must have been tampered with for mercenary purposes. Captain Innes thinks the sea-cock must have been opened by some one, which would let a stream of water into the hold from 2½ to 3 inches in diameter. Immediate steps will be taken to raise her; in fact preparations have already been begun. Once she is afloat again, of course the trouble can be made manifest. If the boat was sunk maliciously, too heavy punishment cannot be meted out to the one who was instrumental in sending her to the bottom.
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- This wrecking tug (C#7406) had an interesting career as a ferry, tug, gunboat and wrecker. She was built at Point Edward, Ont. by Robert Steed in 1859 as the small (275 t., 154 ft) rail ferry MICHIGAN for use in Sarnia-Port Huron by the Grand Trunk Railway. Apparently not well-suited for that purpose, she was converted to a tug in 1862 after being purchased by Americans John Pridgeon and W. K. Muir (though she stayed in Canadian registry). In 1867 she was chartered by the Canadian government and soon converted for use as a 288 t. gunboat in the Fenian uprising. She was renamed PRINCE ALFRED at this time. While still in the midst of her military career - 1871 - she was converted for use as a government wrecker and in 1877 she was sold to the Canadian Towing and Wrecking Co. for that purpose. She was a common sight on Lakes Erie and Huron for a number of years, towing her schooner-lighter PRINCESS ALEXANDRA. After the incident below she continued on as a wrecker until the fall of 1883. For a photo of PRINCE ALFRED in her gunboat garb, see Historical Collections of the Great Lakes.
- Date of Original:
- Sat., May 4, 1878
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- Dave Swayze
- Copyright Statement:
- Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes