The Star of Bengal
The Great Unresolved Alaska Maritime Disaster
The Star of Bengal sometime after 1898, when it had been re-rigged as a barque.
The Star of Bengal was a 264-foot schooner that sank off Coronation Island, Alaska, on September 20, 1908. The ship was heading back to San Francisco, full of canned salmon and laborers from the cannery at Wrangell. In the middle of the night, the weather picked up and the ship broke on the rocks and sank. Of the 27 white crewmen, 15 died. Of the 110 laborers – most of them Chinese – all died except one.
Alaska Endeavour assembled a team of eight. In addition to Bill and Patsy Urschel, who run Alaska Endeavour non-profit and the research vessel Endeavour, were Ray Troll, an artist, raconteur, and musician from Ketchikan; Shawn Dilles, a retired government analyst; Jenya Anichenko, a marine archeologist; Gig Decker, commercial fisherman and diver; Sean Adams, a drone pilot; and Tessa Hulls, a writer and artist.
The expedition, of course, secured all the necessary permits. It carried the Explorers Club flag.
The Endeavour left Wrangell for Coronation Island on May 6, 2022.
This wasn't a treasure hunt. There was no gold on the ship. We just wanted to find the wreck and confirm that it is the Star of Bengal. We also wanted to tell the story of these Asian workers in Alaska, the work they did and under what conditions, and the institutional racism they faced.
Did we find the wreck? Click on the button below to watch the expedition report, delivered live from the salon on the Endeavour on May 13, 2022, the morning we returned to Wrangell.
This expedition was funded solely by Alaska Endeavour members and sponsors. Thank you to all of them!
Subscribe here for updates on the expedition as we pursue our research.
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Captain Warren Good of the Alaskan Shipwreck organization – and his associate, historian Mike Burwell – have been incredibly generous with their research on the wreck of the Star of Bengal. Warren’s website, www.alaskashipwreck.com, and his Alaska Shipwrecks page on Facebook, are indispensable resources for anyone who cares about maritime disasters. We carry a copy of Warren and Mike’s book, Alaska Shipwrecks 1750 - 2015 onboard the Endeavour (it makes for light reading in heavy weather). That book and more are available on the Alaska Shipwreck website. Again, Warren and Mike, thank you!