SS Ozama was Shipwrecked & Salvaged in Bahamas as SS Craigallion


Shipwrecked in the Bahamas

Reported as in distress on Watling's Island, Bahamas

“The steamtug which left Nassau, N.P., on April 28 (1885) to assist the British steamer Craigallion, reported as in distress at Watling’s Island, reports that during the heavy northerly winds that prevailed last week the steamer parted her hawsers, drifted upon the reefs and became a total wreck.”[1]

Reported as wrecked on Hogsty Reef, Bahamas

Another report advised that the British steamship Cragallion (sic), which was wrecked “on Hogstye Reef” in July of 1885 during a voyage out of Baltimore, was towed from Nassau into Norfolk by the Norfolk wrecking steamer Resolute. The Cragallion was described as in “fair condition, and is a very successful piece of wrecking work.”[2]

About Hogsty Reef, Bahamas

Hogsty Reef is a uninhabited coral atoll located in the southern Bahamas. It is located between Great Inagua (to the South) and Acklins Island (to the North).

Hogsty is a bit of an oddity in the Atlantic basin. It is a 5×3 mile coral atoll rising up from 6,000 ft deep surrounding waters.

Atolls are presumed to form from extinct volcanoes – in a process whereby the volcano creates the sea mount which rises from the ocean depths, then subsides leaving a coral atoll. There are just a handful of these geological formations in the Atlantic, whereas there are hundreds in the Pacific.

Hogsty is uninhabited and hardly anyone ever visits. There are just two tiny islands – hardly larger than sandbars – not enough to offer any real lee anchorage. The islands are small enough to walk/circumnavigate in 5-10 minutes. They do offer good shelling.

Most charts and guides call out an anchorage in the lee of NW Cay. It is also possible to anchor at the head of the lagoon. The lagoon is mostly 20-30 ft deep with scattered coral heads. Good light is needed to navigate it. Once at the head of the lagoon, there is a large field of 10 ft sand to anchor in. The charts indicate areas of the reef dry at low water, which suggests good protection from surge at low tide, but as of 2009, little of the reef actually dries.[3]


[1] Boston Evening Transcript, (Boston, Massachusetts, USA), Volume 58, #17810, May 15, 1885, p. 7, c. 1
[2] The Richmond Dispatch, (Richmond, Virginia, USA), #10671, September 12, 1885, p. 3, c. 3
[3] Hogsty Reef, Wikipedia entry, accessed June 11, 2013,

More on the SS Ozama, Ex-Craigallion

Information on: Discovery of the Ozama
Information on: Construction & physical details
Information on: Steam engine and machinery
Information on: Towing history
Information on: Smuggling guns
Information on: Seizure & release
Information on: Miscellaneous Voyages
Information on: Wrecked in the Bahamas
Information on: Re-flagging as American steamship
Information on: Wrecked off Cape Romain, SC
Information on: The shipwreck as it is today
(private not currently available to general public)
Information on: Shipping money
(private not currently available to general public)

Image Files Relating to Shipwreck Ozama

Images: Sidescan images of Ozama wreck site
Images: Photos of artifacts found on the Ozama
(private not currently available to general public)
Images: Photos of people and work in progress
(private not currently available to general public)
Images: Maps & charts relating to Ozama’s history
(private not currently available to general public)
Images: Archaeological and technical drawings
(private not currently available to general public)

Ownership of Salvaged Gold & Artifacts

The above posts all deal with the steamer Ozama, which was shipwrecked off Cape Romain, South Carolina in 1894 and discovered and identified by underwater archaeologist Dr. E. Lee Spence in 1979 and 2013 respectively. He also discovered other abandoned wreckage in the same general vicinity. In 2012, the Federal District Court ruled that Spence was the “true and exclusive owner of the abandoned wreckage” (which includes the Ozama and all of the other shipwrecks that he had found in the specific area designated in his court filing), which means he is already the legal owner of any and all shipwreck gold, silver, cannons, hulls, engines, rigging, and other artifacts on those wrecks. To learn more about shipwrecks in general, check out Spence’s page on Facebook.

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