Unlike the rest of the shipwrecks along the Pictured Rocks, which were victims of storm, collision, fog, or fire, the latest addition to the area's family of wrecks sank as a result of years of hard work by dedicated volunteers.
When Public Act 184 authorized the establishment of bottomland preserves in Michigan, the main concern was to protect existing shipwrecks. Public Act 452 in 1988 modified the law to allow one vessel "associated with Great Lakes maritime history" to be intentionally sunk in each preserve to serve as a dive attraction.
For years the members of the Alger Underwater Preserve Committee searched for a suitable vessel to sink in the Alger preserve. Finally, in early 1994, Preserve Committee President Peter Lindquist got word that Selvick Marine and Towing of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin was planning to scrap their tug STEVEN M. SELVICK. Lindquist contacted the company and suggested that they donate the tug to the preserve, to which Selvick readily agreed.
The tug was built in 1915 in Cleveland, Ohio for the Great Lakes Towing Company. A "city class" tug, she was originally named the LORAIN and was equipped with a 1889-vintage steam engine removed from another vessel. In 1953, the tug was sold to the Merritt - Chapman - Scott Company and renamed the CABOT. Her old steam engine was scrapped, and she was re-powered with a diesel engine. As the CABOT, she served on the construction of the Mackinac Bridge in 1957. The tug was purchased by the Selvick Marine and Towing Company in 1988. She was re-fitted with a newer Fairbanks-Morse diesel engine and renamed the STEVEN M. SELVICK in honor of the son of the company's owner.
By the time the SELVICK was donated to the Preserve, she had been mothballed for several years and was no longer able to sail under her own power, so it was necessary to tow the tug from Sturgeon Bay to Munising via Lake Michigan, the Straits of Mackinac, northern Lake Huron, the St. Marys River, the Soo Locks and Lake Superior. Mike Kohut of Recreational Diving in Royal Oak, Michigan donated the use of the dive charter boat REC DIVER to make the tow. Despite the fact that they were towing a 71-foot, 74-ton tugboat with a 42-foot passenger boat, Lindquist and his volunteer crew managed to bring the SELVICK to port in Munising without mishap.
Once at the dock in her final port, the real work on the tug began. In order to avoid polluting the lake, hundreds of gallons of fuel oil and lubricants had to be pumped out of the tug's tanks and bilges, and the interior was steam-cleaned. Miscellaneous equipment such as auxiliary engines and generators had to be removed to give divers safe access to the engine room. Volunteers from the local area and around the Midwest accomplished these jobs over the course of two years. Approval from the Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers was needed to ensure that the sunken tug would not pose a hazard to navigation.
Late in the winter of 1995, a through-hull fitting deep inside the SELVICK froze and ruptured, allowing water to pour into the bilges. As the deep-hulled tug settled to the bottom, she rolled over nearly 45 degrees onto her starboard side before coming to rest with her gunwale and cabin hatches below water. When Lindquist and friends tried to pump out the water, the tug merely rolled farther over on her side. Drastic action was needed! Calls went out to divers across the Upper Peninsula and Wisconsin, and on a sunny Saturday in April a volunteer crew went to work to raise the tug. While one crew cleared sand from under the boat's keel, another group fastened heavy-duty lift bags to the sunken side of the boat. Another group of divers buried heavy anchors off to the side of the tug and ran stout lines to the top of the pilothouse to help pull her upright. With several pumps draining water from inside the hull, divers stuffed plastic into every leak in the super structure. Finally, with the addition of more pumps, the SELVICK slowly righted herself and floated free of the bottom.
On the morning of June 1, 1996 the SELVICK was slowly towed out the east channel by the U.S. Forest Service tug ABRAHAM WILLIAMS, accompanied by a flotilla of small boats as well as chartered vessels with VIPs, media representatives and spectators on board. Once at the sinking site, some six miles north of Munising off Grand Island's Trout Point, her flag was lowered for the last time and workers opened valves below the waterline to flood the vessel. When this flow proved too small to sink the vessel in a reasonable time, pumps aboard one of the support vessels were used to pump water into the tug's hull. Finally, with her deck awash, lake water began to pour aboard through her hatches, and it was only a matter of seconds before the STEVEN M. SELVICK sank stern first, disappearing to lie beneath the waves in her final resting place.
The SELVICK came to rest on a sandstone bottom 60 feet deep, and sits upright with a list to port. Damage to the tug from the sinking was minimal: the rudder broke off when it hit the bottom, and all the glass was blown out of the pilothouse windows. Divers have access to all areas of the tug; doors were secured in the open position and a hatch was cut in her deck to provide access to the machinery spaces in the stern. The pilothouse, galley, messroom, engineroom, and crew quarters can all be penetrated.
COORDINATES: ....46°29.53' N 86°35.87' W
DEPTH: ..........60 feet
For more information on diving these shipwrecks, visit the Scuba Diving section on Captain Peter Lindquist's main web site . Descriptions of the wrecks, pictures, and reports on the individual wrecks.
Back to Shipwreck Dive Tours
Report on the Steven M. Selvik from the book Dangerous Coast: Pictured Rocks Shipwrecks by Fred Stonehouse and Daniel Fountain, Avery Color Studios, Marquette Michigan, 1997. This book, and other shipwreck books by Fred Stonehouse, are for sale at the Shipwreck Tours Bookstore.
Top photo of the Steven M. Selvick by Mike Kennedy
Photo of towing by Bert Bowers
Other photos from the Frederick Stonehouse Collection
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