Conception Harbour Wrecks Project

In 2013, SPSNL partnered with the Town of Conception Harbour and the Northeast Avalon Regional Economic Development Board to improve the adventure tourism facilities around the whaler wrecks. That summer and fall, SPSNL members had the opportunity to get involved in:

  1. conducting historical research to identify the three whaling ships sunk in Conception Harbour, and to document their history
  2. conducting underwater surveys to map the wrecks and help establish their identity
  3. taking photographs and video to document the current state of the wrecks and associated artifacts
  4. providing information to scuba divers to make them more aware of the site and what they can see
  5. assembling the collected information for presentation on a storyboard at the site and this website

The Town of Conception Harbour will complete improvements to the parking area beside the wrecks this spring, including installing picnic tables and a fire-pit for the use of divers, kayakers and other visitors, installing a storyboard at the wreck site, and providing public to washrooms in the town hall. Major improvements to the town wharf to benefit pleasure boaters and kayakers were completed in 2013.

Modest funding to SPSNL from the federal, provincial and municipal governments for this project enabled us to host NAS training in July 2013, made the wreck survey work possible, and covered the insurance SPSNL requires to undertake the tasks listed above.

SPSNL members have finished surveying the whaler wrecks at Conception Harbour and have produced a map of the shipwrecks.


Conception Harbour Results

During summer and fall 2013, volunteers from SPSNL worked on the Conception Harbour Project. We gathered the following information through historical research:

  • a list of five whaling ships purchased by the Hawke Harbour Whaling Company,
  • the shipyard plans for the Southern Foam,
  • the shipyard specifications for the Southern Foam, Sukha, Sposa and Soika,
  • the dimensions for the Charcot,
  • old photos of several of the five whaling ships.

We also surveyed the three shipwrecks in Conception Harbour, gathering data from:

  • detailed sketches of each wreck,
  • 2- and 3-dimensional surveys,
  • GPS locations for the bow and stern of each ship,
  • Google Earth and air photo imagery of the shipwrecks, and
  • underwater photographs and video.

We processed the information gathered by:

  • entering the survey measurements and GPS locations in 3H Site Recorder,
  • creating a final shipwreck map by hand,
  • creating 3-dimensional models of each shipwreck in Google SketchUp, and
  • combining and orienting the 3D models into a single layout using the survey and GPS data.

The final step was to compare our underwater survey measurements of the three wrecks to the shipyard dimensions of the five ships, to positively identify the three shipwrecks. We were able to determine that the shipwreck on the beach in Conception Harbour is the S.S. Charcot (built in T√łnsberg, Norway in 1923). The two shipwrecks underwater behind it are the S.S. Southern Foam and the S.S. Sukha (both built in Middlesbrough, England, in 1926 and 1929).

If you are interested in viewing a spinnable 3D model of the whaling shipwrecks:

  1. DOWNLOAD this 3D SketchUp file (12 MB) of the shipwrecks and then,
  2. INSTALL the SketchUp viewer on your Windows or Mac computer. Start the viewer and open the SketchUp file.

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