The flotsam found in New York may be from the famous SS Savannah

NEW YORK — A piece of weather-beaten flotsam that washed ashore in New York after Tropical Storm Ian last fall has piqued the interest of experts who say it may be part of the SS Savannah, which ran aground and broke up in 1821. two years later. it became the first ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean partially under steam power.

The approximately 13-foot (4-meter) square piece of wreckage was found in October on Fire Island, a barrier island that hugs the southern shore of Long Island, and is now in the custody of the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society . It will work with National Park Service officials to identify the ruins and make them available to the public.

“It’s very exciting to find it,” said Betsy DeMaria, a technician at the park service’s Fire Island National Seashore museum. “We’re definitely going to have some subject matter experts who are going to look into this and help us get a better look at what we have here.”

It can be difficult to identify the wreck with 100% certainty, but park service officials say the Savannah is a leading contender among known wrecks on Fire Island.

Explorers searched the Savannah for more than two centuries but found nothing they could link to the famous ship. The newly discovered wreck, however, “very well is” a piece of historic shipwreck, said Ira Breskin, a senior lecturer at the State University of New York Maritime College in the Bronx. “It makes perfect sense.”

The evidence included 1-to-1.3-inch (2.5-to-3.3-centimeter) wooden pegs holding the planks of the wreck, consistent with a 100-foot (30.5-meter) ship, it said. park service officials in a news release. Savannah is 98 feet, 6 inches (30 meters) tall. Additionally, officials say, iron spikes on the wreckage suggest a ship built around 1820. The Savannah was built in 1818.

Breskin, author of “The Business of Shipping,” says that the Savannah’s use of steam power was so advanced for its time that May 24, 1819, the start of its transatlantic voyage was celebrated as National Maritime Day. “It was important because they were trying to demonstrate the ability of a steam engine to cross the pond,” he said.

Breskin said a nautical archaeologist should be able to help identify the wreckage on Fire Island, which is likely from the Savannah. “It’s plausible, and it’s important, and it’s living history if scientists prove it’s what we thought,” he said.

The Savannah, a sailing ship equipped with a 90-horsepower steam engine, sailed primarily under sail across the Atlantic, using steam power for 80 hours in nearly a month’s passage to in Liverpool, England.

Crowds cheered as the Savannah sailed from Liverpool to Sweden and Russia and then back to her home port of Savannah, Georgia, but the ship was not a financial success, in part because people were afraid to travel on a hybrid ship. The Savannah steam engine was removed and sold after the ship’s owners were defeated in the Great Savannah Fire of 1820.

The Savannah was carrying cargo between Savannah and New York when it ran aground on Fire Island. Later it was disbanded. The crew reached the shore safely and the cargo of cotton was saved, but the Augusta Chronicle & Georgia Gazette reported that “Captain Holdridge was badly hurt by the upset of the boat.”

Explorers have searched the Savannah for two centuries since then but have not found anything that they could link to the famous ship. The newly discovered wreck, however, “very well is” a piece of a historic shipwreck, Breskin said. “It makes perfect sense.”

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