The mystery of a ghost ship, whereabouts unknown

The Baychimo encased in Alaskan ice. Photograph: The Hougan Group

    She did not sink.  She was spotted numerous times over the next few decades.

Does the SS Baychimo still sail the seas without a captain or crew?  No one knows for sure.

The ship was built in Sweden in 1914 and was owned by Baltische Reederei GmbH, Hamburg.  It was launched under the name Angermanelfven from Gothenburg, Sweden.  (Angerman is the Swedish river for which she was named).  She is a steel-hulled, 1,322-ton cargo steamer, 230 feet long, that basically traveled the coast of the Northwest Territories of Canada, and traded provisions for fur pelts.

She traveled the trading routes for Hamburg and Sweden until the onset of WWI, then, she was transferred to the United Kingdom as part of Germany’s settlement for shipping losses.  In 1921 she became part of the Hudson’s Bay Company and was re-named Baychimo.

I imagine you are wondering when I will get to the creepy part of the story.  Don’t worry, I will.  The trail of unfortunate events started on July 21, 1928, when she ran aground off Pole Island in Camden Bay.  She was able to be re-launched the next day, but in 1931, October 1st, she was ending a trading run, loaded down with fur pelts, when she became trapped in a pack of ice.  The crew abandoned her and took out over the solid ice pack on foot where they were able to make their way to the town of Barrow.  While they were taking shelter there for a couple of days, the Baychimo, crewless, had broken free of the ice.  Again, on October  8th, she became even more encased in ice.  It was so bad that an airplane was flown in to pick up 22 crew members.  Fifteen of the most loyal remained behind to ride out the winter and constructed a wooden shelter nearby for that purpose.

On November 24, a blizzard arrived—there was no visibility at all, and when the weather cleared, the Baychimo had disappeared from the scene.  The captain and other old salts decided she had broken up in the rough winds and sank.

They were wrong.  In a few days, an Inuit hunter reported that he had seen Baychimo 45 miles away from their present location.  Crewmen tracked her down to remove fur pelts, which were transported by air.  After they had gotten the pelts, they abandoned the ship for good.  They were certain she was too battered to survive the winter.

She did not sink.  She was spotted numerous times over the next few decades:

Three hundred miles to the east, a few months later.

Spotted by a man with a sled dog team, floating the shore near Nome

Spotted by a company of prospectors a few months after that

In August of 1932 was boarded by a trading party near Wainwright, AK

March of 1933, Eskimos that boarded her were trapped inside for ten days by a freak storm

August of 1933, Hudson’s Bay Company wanted to salvage but she was too far a-sea

July of 1934, explorers on a schooner boarded Baychimo

September of 1935, she was seen off of Alaska’s NW coast

November of 1939, she was boarded by a Captain Polson in an attempt to salvage her, but ice floes forced abandonment

In 1962 she was seen drifting along the Beaufort Sea by Inuit

In 1969, she was once again seen frozen in an ice pack thirty-eight years after the original abandonment

Is the Baychimo still afloat—or on the ocean floor?  The Alaskan government decided in 2006 to work on the mystery.  Baychimo—current whereabouts unknown.

Sara Marie Hogg is the author of the award-winning Quiet Curious, a collection of true stories about the unknown and unexplained. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.

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