The Concrete Ship

At Sunset beach

 

During the first World War, steel was becoming scarce. President Woodrow Wilson approved the construction of 24 concrete ships. Of the 24, only 12 were built, at a total cost of $50 million. By the time the ships were completed, the war had already ended. The S. S. Atlantus is probably the most famous concrete ship. She was built by the Liberty Ship Building Company in Brunswick, Georgia and launched on December 5, 1918 and was the second concrete ship constructed in the World War I Emergency Fleet. However, the war had ended a month earlier, but the Atlantus was used to transport American troops back home from Europe and also to transport coal in New England. In 1920, the ship was retired to a salvage yard in Virginia.

In 1926, the Atlantus was purchased by Colonel Jesse Rosenfeld to be used as ferry dock in Cape May, New Jersey for a proposed ferry between Cape May and Cape Henlopen, DE. The plan was to dig a channel into to the shore where the Atlantus would be placed. Two other concrete ships would be purchased to form a Y-shape where the ferry would dock. In March 1926, the groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the construction of the ferry dock. The Atlantus was repaired and towed to Cape May. On June 8th, a storm hit and the ship broke free of it's moorings and ran aground 150 feet off the coast of Sunset Beach. Several attempts were made to free the ship, but none were successful.

It instantly became a tourist attraction, as thousands have ventured out to Sunset Beach for a look at the old girl. At some point, and I don't know when, an Advertisement was put on the ship. all I can read is "For Boat Insurance...AMBLANCHE....". It was during the 1950's when the ship began breaking apart. This was the beginning of the end for the beloved ship. As you'll see in the photos below, there's not much left of it at all. Soon, it will be nothing more then a memory. Luckily, sites like this will display photos of it for years to come, so our children will get to see what it looked like.

 

 

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