To the editor:
Recently, in this newspaper, there was a picture on the editorial page showing a horse and wagon on Horseneck Beach. Gooseberry Island is in the background with the Navy cruiser Yankee aground on Old **** Ledge.
I have written about the Yankee before but it is quite long and I will tell a small portion here.
The ship was built of steel in 1892 as a 380-foot merchantman. In 1898 the Yankee was purchased by the U.S. Navy and had a varied life for the Navy.
In 1908, the vessel was having torpedo practice in Vineyard Sound. During that time, a torpedo exploded in the tube. I have a picture showing a large black area where the explosion took place. The ship was not harmed and, after practice, she headed around Penekese Island to take a westerly course to Newport.
It was thick fog and, upon clearing the island, a horn was heard from a ship entering Buzzard’s Bay. The captain ordered the engine room to go astern to get out of the channel. When a ship with a single screw and right-hand propeller goes into reverse, the stern will go to port. The bigger the propeller, the pronounced that swing is. So, going astern with the Yankee would have caused the bow to head north. When the captain ordered the engineer to go ahead and thinking the ship was still on a westerly course, she drove right onto the ledge. I believe the captain had never backed a ship such a great distance
A man named Arbunckle was awarded the contract to raise the ship and take it to Newport. He had never salvaged a ship before but he had the best idea.
Mr. Arbuckle’s crew sealed the ship and made everything air tight. Big compressors on deck filled that craft with air and it floated off but a storm was brewing. It was decided to tow the ship to New Bedford because of the storm. The towline kept parting. Off Dumpling Light the tug came alongside to pass over a new line. A sea slammed the tug into the ship and broke open a port hole. The Yankee lies just off the light and scuba divers have fun on it.
The total history of the Yankee is interesting but long.