Lost Deck Cargo Valued at $700,000 Found by Shipwreck Explorers in Lake Ontario


A large crane and associated construction equipment with an estimate worth of over $700,000 lost in a violent October gale in 1981 has been discovered by a team of shipwreck explorers in Lake Ontario.

The team consisting of Jim Kennard, Dan Scoville, Roland Stevens, and Craig Hampton had been searching this summer for a lost steamer approximately 30 miles east of Niagara, and over 8 miles from shore when several large objects were detected on the bottom at a depth of nearly 500 feet.  The team deployed an underwater remote operated vehicle (ROV) to explore the targets.   It was only last week after a shipwreck colleague recalled the incident and sent Kennard an article from the October 8, 1981 Democrat & Chronicle newspaper that the story of the lost deck cargo came to light.

Work Barge Capsizes in October Gale

The work barge, Western Brave, loaded with a large crane had been working on the water intake and discharge system for the NYS Electric & Gas coal fired power plant at Somerset, New York.  When a storm began to build in strength, the lake side construction on the power plant was halted and the barge with 11 people on board was towed back to Toronto to avoid being capsized by heading into the waves.  As the storm grew in intensity, with winds upward of 60 miles per hour and waves of 10 to 12 feet, the tug pulling the barge could not make any headway.   The US Coast Guard was contacted and a helicopter from the Canadian Forces was immediately dispatched to rescue the workers stranded on board the work barge. Within 20 minutes of their rescue the barge capsized spilling its entire deck load of construction equipment into the deep depths of Lake Ontario.  The crane is believed to be a Manitowoc 4600.  The equipment was owned by the Lakeshore Construction Company of Muskegon, Michigan. 

A Debris Field of Construction Equipment

The ROV, piloted from the surface, landed on top of the cab of a large construction crane.  Loose cables were dangling off of the crane along with jagged metal pieces protruding from the lake bottom. A short distance from the cab and crane there lay another section of crane estimated to be 75 feet in length.  An overturned trailer, tanks, clam shell grab, large unidentified box, cables, and torn pieces of metal were just some of the items captured on nearly one hour of video that was collected as the ROV explored the area of the debris field.  Dan Scoville did a fantastic job in maneuvering the ROV through this very hazardous environment to explore the field of construction equipment that had landed on the bottom when the barge capsized.   

Barge Recovered

The barge continued to stay afloat during the storm and travelled another 25 miles east coming to rest in 30 feet of water near the Eagle Marina at Kendall, NY.   A few days following the storm the Lakeshore Construction Company had the barge towed back to Toronto.  The Western Brave barge still exists today.

VIDEO:  Discovery of Lost Deck Cargo in Lake Ontario  

 Lake Ontario Shipwreck Survey

The Lake Ontaio Shipwreck Survey was funded by a grant from the Great Lakes Historical Society of Vermillion, Ohio.

 Shipwreck Discovery Team

Jim Kennard has been diving and exploring the lakes in the northeast since 1970. He has found over 200 shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, Lake Champlain, NY Finger Lakes and in the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers over the past 35 years. Using his background as an electrical engineer, he built the side scan sonar system that located many of these shipwrecks in the past.   In 1983 he discovered a unique horse powered ferryboat in Lake Champlain.  National Geographic featured the ferryboat in their October 1989 issue.  Several other of his shipwreck discoveries have been reported in various publications including Skin Diver, Wreck Diver, Inland Seas, and Sea Technology.

Dan Scoville is an experienced cave and technical diver. He utilizes custom gas mixtures of oxygen, helium, and nitrogen to dive to depths of over 300 feet. In 2005, Dan led the development of an Underwater Remote Operated Vehicle with a team of college seniors from the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is currently a project manager and electrical engineer for Oceaneering International and was one of the team that built the tools that fixed the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico for British Petroleum.

Roland ‘Chip’ Stevens is a retired architect and working artist whose watercolors are well known in the Rochester area, many of which have been accepted into national exhibitions.  A sailor for many years, Stevens has a love of the sea, as reflected in his seascapes.  A number of his paintings of shipwrecks discovered by the team have appeared in various news stories and publications.  

Craig Hampton has been a certified SCUBA diver for over 40 years.  He is a master Mercury Marine mechanic and owner of the Boat Doctor in Lorain Ohio.  Craig has discovered several historic shipwrecks with Jim Kennard in Lake Erie.

In May 2008 the team of Kennard, Scoville, and Stevens discovered the British warship HMS Ontario, the oldest shipwreck ever found in the Great Lakes, and in late September 2008 they also discovered a rare 200 year old "dagger-board" schooner, both of which received worldwide attention in the news.




anonymous by MIKE BANDA on 3/23/2012
this is very interesting and i think it should be long in the top ten in te wiels book and that it was just a little less intering than the ones i read about in school.
anonymous by patrick LIZE on 2/18/2013
I would like to contact Dr Dan Scoville, Chris Koberstein, Roland Stevens and Craig Hampton. Do you have please their email?
We do not post email addresses to maintain each persons privacy. Please contact me directly with your questions and I will forward them to the individuals that you would like to contact.
Send :kennard@shipwreckworld.com

Add your comment

by Anonymous - Already have an account? Login now!
Your Name:  

Enter the text you see in the image below
What do you see?
Can't read the image? View a new one.
Your comment will appear after being approved.

Related Posts

An early 1800’s schooner has been discovered in deep water off the southern shore of Lake Ontario near Oak Orchard, New York.  more »

A 200 year old US warship may be buried in French Creek Bay near Clayton, New York. A cannon salvaged from the old hull of a shipwreck over a half century ago may be the link to the USS Oneida.  more »

A mid 1800’s Canadian schooner has been discovered in deep water off the southern shore of Lake Ontario near Sodus Point, New York.  more »

Rochester, New York – The battered remains of the Canadian schooner Ocean Wave, which capsized and eventually sank from a sudden and violent squall, has been found in the depths of Lake Ontario. Shipwreck explorers Jim Kennard, Roger Pawlowski and...  more »

While searching for historic shipwrecks off Oswego we occasionally find modern boats on the bottom of Lake Ontario, the majority of which have been houseboats. Experienced boaters know that the lake can sometimes change very rapidly from calm waters into...  more »

A rare dagger–board schooner, Three Brothers, has been discovered in deep water off Oswego, New York by a team of shipwreck enthusiasts. Jim Kennard, Roger Pawlowski, and Roland Stevens located the schooner in early July utilizing high resolution...  more »

The US Coast Guard boat, which sank in a storm December 1, 1977, has been located by local divers, Jim Kennard and Dan Scoville.  more »

The wreck of a U.S. Air Force C-45 aircraft abandoned during flight by its crew in 1952 has been located in deep water off Oswego, New York. Crippled by the failure of one of its two engines the plane continued on a 65 mile pilotless flight until it...  more »

The Lost Ship of the Month for December is the legendary British gunboat HMS Speedy, lost with all hands in 1804 on Lake Ontario. The Speedy is one of the earliest lost ships still missing on the Great Lakes and played a significant role in Canadian...  more »

Oswego, New York – A rare sailing craft identified as a scow-sloop has been located in deep water off Oswego, NY. In August 1872 the scow-sloop Black Duck was enroute from Oswego to Sackets Harbor when it foundered in a northwest gale. Only a small...  more »

A rare dagger-board schooner has been discovered in over 500 feet of water off the southern shore of Lake Ontario using deep towed side scan sonar equipment. Sailing vessels of this type were in use on the lakes for only a short period of time beginning in the very early 1800’s. This ship is the only dagger-board schooner known to have been found in the Great Lakes.  more »

A 140 year old Canadian steamship Homer Warren has been discovered in deep water off the southern shore of Lake Ontario near Pultneyville.  more »

Submit your own


Ask a Question

Shipwrecks of Lake Ontario - A Journey of Discovery Book

The National Museum of the Great Lakes is excited to announce the release of a new book titled Shipwrecks of Lake Ontario: A Journey of Discovery. This book contains stories of long lost shipwrecks and the journeys of the underwater explorers who found them, written by Jim Kennard with paintings by Roland Stevens and underwater imagery by Roger Pawlowski.

Buy Now!

Legend of the Lake - New Discovery Edition Book

The recent discovery of the wreck of the British warship Ontario, “the Holy Grail” of Great Lakes shipwrecks, solves several mysteries that have puzzled historians since the ship sank more than two centuries ago. Now, for the first time, the whole tragic story of the Ontario can finally be told.

Buy Now!