Ship dubbed 'Bad Luck Barquentine' found on bed of Lake Superior after 153 years

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A ship nicknamed the ‘Bad Luck Barquentine’ has been rediscovered after sitting on the bottom of Lake Superior for more than 150 years.

The 144-foot vessel, officially named the Nucleus, had been undisturbed since it sank for the third and last time during a storm in September 1869.

But a team of US shipwreck enthusiasts, piloting a small robot fitted with a light and camera, finally tracked it down 40 miles off the lake’s shore.

After searching the lake bed with sonar, they found the ship largely intact with its cargo of iron ore still visible.

The ‘Bad Luck Barquentine’ was not given that nickname lightly.

Researchers from the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum said it had sunk twice before and was resurfaced each time to be used again.

In 1854, it rammed the SS Detroit on Lake Huron, causing the sidewheeler – a style of steamboat with large paddlewheels on either side – to sink.

Calling it a ‘pretty significant’ find, the Shipwreck Society’s executive director Bruce Lynn said: ‘We can’t overlook the vessel’s checkered past.’

After a few hours adrift in bad weather on the night when the Nucleus went to its final watery grave, the crew tried to hail down a passing ship called the SS Union.

The officers reportedly spotted the soaked sailors waving to them, but decided to steam ahead and leave them behind.

Luckily, a more generous schooner named the Worthington passed a little later, and the crew was picked up with no loss of life.

A video released by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum shows items like plates and shovels still scattered around the Nucleus, preserved by the water of Lake Superior.

The wreck was first spotted in the summer of 2021 using sonar technology, and the positive identification came last year thanks to the Shipwreck Society’s remotely operated vehicle.

Darryl Ertel Jr, the director of marine operations at the society, said he was surprised at the barquentine’s good condition, adding: ‘It had a straight back stern and then the port side also was intact.

‘And so, I was more excited about it because at first, I thought it was totally in pieces on the bottom.’

Last month, a mystery shipwreck off the coast of East Sussex was finally identified as a Dutch warship called the Klein Hollandia which sank in 1672.

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