MONROVIA

Date Built: 1943 in Scotland
Builders:
Construction: Steel Steamer Owners:
Dimensions: 430' 6700 gross tons Cargo: Steel from Antwerp, Belgium

Condition: Upright, largely intact but damaged on the port side and bow is twisted

Location: About 13 miles at 111 degrees from Thunder Bay Island light.

Depth: 140', 80' Top Cabins, 100' deck

Date of Loss: June 25, 1959

GPS: 44 59.012' /082 55.40' (bow)

Type of Loss: Collision with Canadian Steamer Royalton

Loss of Life:

Co-ordinates are informational only, they maybe inaccurate and should
NOT BE USED FOR NAVIGATIONAL PURPOSES!

The collision between the MONROVIA and ROYALTON occured at 2:05pm on June 25, 1959 in a "pea soup" fog. The 430', 6700 ton MONROVIA was built in Glasgow, Scotland in 1943 as Liberty Ship to help in "The War Effort". The MONROVIA was operated under a Liberian Flag and manned by a Greek crew, a combination known to mariners to mean that she would have been run on spit and bailing wire. The MONROVIA, Owned by the Eastern Shipping Company of Liverpool, and loaded with steel from Antwerp, Belgium was bound for Chicago. It was her first trip on the Great Lakes.

The MONROVIA's Captain upon hearing the ROYATON's fog horn and not having radar decided to turn to port. A course change that would have put the MONROVIA closer to the downbound shipping lanes and disaster. The 536-foot, 12,000-ton ROYALTON was downbound from Duluth to Montreal with grain. She was owned by Colonial Steam Ships Ltd. of Port Colborne, Ontario. The MONROVIA took the collision on her port side in the number one, two holds and was takin on water in the number four hold as well as in her engine and fire rooms. Luckily for the MONROVIA the freighter NORMAN W. FOY, only 5 miles away, heard her MayDay calls, The FOY was equiped with radar, without which it could not have rescued the MONROVIA's crew. When the FOY arrived the MONROVIA's crew were already in their life boats and the rescue proceeded quickly.

The ROYALTON's Captain stated “What are you supposed to do?” he said, “A ship that didn’t cut its speed, wouldn’t answer its telephone and has no radar.” At the Coast Guard Board of Iquiry, the MONROVIA’s Greek captain claimed the ROYALTON was going at “excessive speed” and that he failed to answer signals before the collision. The ROYALTON’s Captain continued telling the board that the MONROVIA “came out of the fog about 400-feet away and struck us on the bow.” He also said he “turned left three times and after the third time, three minutes before the crash, he ordered double full astern", he was already going full astern.

The FOY then stood by a radar watch as the MONROVIA filled and dropped off it's screen at 1:15am. The FOY then backed into the fog engulfed area of the sinking only to find nothing but debris after which she continued on her way to Detroit. The ROYALTON continued on to Sarnia.

Approximately 13 miles ESE Thunder Bay Island Light

Sources: Bedford 2000; Hoagman 1999; NOAA 1999; Stonehouse 1992; Swayze 1999; McConnell; Kauffman; Barker