The ill-fated British Lutzen freighter (also known as the Blueberry Boat), which sank off the coast of Cape Cod, Orleans, in February 1939, is re-emerging on the ocean floor after 77 years, as changing tides strip off the sand that once covered the wreck.
Marine surveyor John Perry Fish, who carried out sonar mapping of the site of the shipwreck last month with other marine experts and the director of the state’s Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources, Victor Mastone, said that the blueberry ship is slowly re-appearing on the ocean floor, Cape Cod Times reported.
According to Fish, the Lutzen was located 20 feet deep, about 400 feet offshore. He said both the bow and stern of the ship were visible.
The reappearance of the Blueberry ship may give researchers a chance to examine the wreck, which had been buried under sand for many years.
The Lutzen was on a journey from Nova Scotia, Canada to New York when it ran aground close to Nauset Beach. According to Underwater Search & Survey, the captain of the Lutzen, which was transporting blueberries, salmon, and cod liver oil, had misjudged the location of the shore, resulting in the crash, the Boston Globe reported.
However, Cape Cod Life reported that the captain, identified as Robert J. Randell, blamed the accident on low visibility due to foggy conditions, as well as powerful winds. Only one member of the Lutzen’s crew died in the shipwreck.
After the blueberry ship got grounded, several attempts were made to rescue the ship and its cargo before it finally sank. According to Cape Cod Life, several people gathered to watch the attempt to save the ship, which had a 155-foot steel-hulled refrigerator.
Up to 200 tons of blueberries were reportedly salvaged from the ship before it sank. The ship had been carrying 230 tons of frozen blueberries. The blueberries were set to be transported to their final destination in New York. But according to historian William Quinn, they ended up in pies, as there were no refrigerators to preserve them.
The latest sonar mapping of the blueberry ship is not the first indication that the wreck of the freighter may be visible. In the 1970s, Quinn claimed that the Lutzen was visible from the air when the tide is low, Cape Cod Life reported.
In 2010, after aerial photos showed a shipwreck several yards offshore, Quinn speculated that the ship could be the Lutzen or the Andover, according to Wicked Local.
The Blueberry ship was not the first or last ship to sink off Cape Cod. There have been up to 3,000 shipwrecks in the area, according to Bill Burke, a historian of the Cape Cod National Seashore.
According to Cape Cod Life, the Lutzen was developed in Ontario in 1918. It was reportedly used as a minesweeper in the English Channel during the First World War. After the war, it was changed into a freight vessel. Records from the early 1930s show that the Lutzen was registered to the Lloyd’s insurance company, according to Cape Cod Times.
Fish said sonar images of the wreck would be added to records of the Lutzen. The Blueberry ship is expected to become all the more visible in the coming years.
“We don’t plan on removing it or anything. That’s very costly, with not much benefit,” Mastone explained. “We’re going to try to keep documenting it out in the field. We’ll do an additional scan, so it can give us some of the details about how the wreck is doing.”
The re-emergence of the Blueberry ship could presage the discovery of other wrecks in the area known as the “ocean graveyard.”
[Featured Image by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]