SS Princess Sophia, Vanderbilt Reef

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SS Princess Sophia, Vanderbilt Reef

by | Oct 24, 2018

On October 24, 1918, SS Princess Sophia sank at Vanderbilt Reef, a wave-cut platform that emerges at low tide, located about 3.7 miles (6 km) northeast of Little Island and 3.3 miles (5.3 km) northwest of North Island in Lynn Canal, Alaska. At extreme low tides, the highest point is about 12 feet (3.6 m) above sea level.

Princess Sophia departed from Skagway for Juneau, Alaska on October 23, 1918, more than three hours behind schedule. Onboard were 75 crew and about 268 passengers, including families of men serving overseas in the war, miners, and crews of sternwheelers that had finished operations for the winter. Fifty women and children were on the passenger list. Four hours after leaving Skagway, while proceeding south in Lynn Canal, the steamship encountered heavy blinding snow driven by a strong and rising northwest wind.

At 2 am on October 24, 1918, Princess Sophia struck and grounded hard on Vanderbilt Reef. The ship remained lodged on the reef for 40 hours, and rescue attempts were delayed when another severe storm developed. The ship broke apart the following night and all 343 passengers and crew died in the incident. The wreck of Princess Sophia was the worst maritime accident in the history of British Columbia and Alaska. Read more here and here. Explore more of Lynn Canal here:

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