Local History Talk: Shipwreck! The SS William H. Machen
Sunday April 8 | 2 – 4 PM
Portsmouth Public Library
Levenson Community Room
The library’s Local History series features authors and experts on local history topics. The series continues with a group of New England divers who made an exciting discovery: the wreck of the SS William H. Machen!
This past summer, the divers located and explored the wreck of the SS William H. Machen (Machen) in 300 feet of water, 75 years after she sank off the New England coast. On July 7th, 1942, the 360' Machen collided with the 218' general cargo freighter the Maid of Stirling, owned by Stirling Shipping Company, east of New Hampshire and Maine. The Sterling was not seriously damaged and continued on to port. Unfortunately, the mortally wounded Machen foundered, and few details ever emerged about the collision itself or her final location. Lost during war time, with 44 other US merchant vessels losses in July 1942, the sinking of the Machen became a single line entry in a Coast Guard report and was largely forgotten.
Currently, the wreck lies partially turtled on her left side with a considerable portion of the wreck buried in the muddy bottom. Over 75 years on the bottom of the Atlantic has taken a toll on the wreck, which initially hindered identification. Although the general dimensions and layout certainly suggested the wreck was the William H. Machen, the team spent the summer combing the wreck for more conclusive proof.
You’ll hear from the whole team:
Mark Bowers is from north central Massachusetts and has been a professional fire fighter for 30 years. Mark has been diving for 38 years and is an open circuit advanced trimix instructor and actively dives open circuit scuba.
Josh Cummings has been diving for 30 years and is certified in closed circuit rebreather and mixed gas diving as well as being an avid underwater photographer shipwreck explorer. Josh originally from NH now lives on Cape Cod and works in the environmental remediation field.
Bob Foster has been an active diver since 1972, and became interested in wreck diving while living near the Great Lakes in the 80’s. He has has discovered and documented over 15 shipwrecks and is excited to be in the company of the next generation of explorers. He works for an environmental consulting firm in MA.
Nate Garrett is an active NAUI instructor who’s been exploring shipwrecks for 24 years and joined the nomad dive team last year, making the drive over from VT to join in the adventure
Jeff Goodreau’s an avid diver, who has been hunting and diving shipwrecks for over 20 years. A certified rebreather and mixed gas diver, Jeff likes exploring cold water wrecks, and has dove many famous wrecks like the U869, Carl D. Bradley, Palmer-Crary, and Gunilda.
For over 25 years, Ryan King has been diving, teaching, and photographing marine life, caves and wrecks from Canada to the Caribbean. He has a passion for exploration and helping others enjoy and appreciate the underwater world. ryankingunderwaterphoto.com