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Museum at Portland Head

Lifering from the ship S.S Oakey L. Alexander

Contributed by Museum at Portland Head
MMN Item 13473 Item Details
Lifering from the ship S.S Oakey L. Alexander
MMN Item 13473 Zoom


Early in the morning of March 3, 1947, the 5284 ton collier "Oakey L. Alexander" was battling her way toward Portland in a wild norÂ’easter. At 4:46am about one mile southeast of Dyer Point, in very heavy seas and winds up to a hurricane force of seventy knots (80 mph), 130 feet of her heavily loaded bow suddenly broke away and immediately sank.

With the rest of the ship still afloat, Captain Raymond W. Lewis headed for nearby high head (now Two Lights State Park) at slow speed so the forward bulkheads would not buckle.

The shipÂ’'s radio operator sent an SOS that was immediately answered by the Coast Guard. When the ship ran aground at High Head, men from the nearby Cape Elizabeth Coast Guard Station were ready for a breeches buoy rescue.

A Lyle gun successfully fired a light line to the ship, and a heavier line was pulled across and secured. One by one all aboard were pulled safely ashore riding in the breeches buoy. The remaining cargo of coal was saved, but the ship was a total loss. It was stripped and cut up for salvage.

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