Deep and dark, the Mud Hole is the Hudson River's channel from a time when the oceans were much lower. Today it collects all the silt and sediment that the river carries out to the sea, making it a very fertile fishing ground, frequented by pelagic fishes and large sharks.
With depths ranging from 130 to 200 ft and difficult diving conditions, most Mud Hole wrecks are beyond the capability of a typical recreational diver without specialized equipment and experience. Where river water mixes with seawater, suspended particles form a constant snow of sediment in a process known as flocculation. This results in very dark and turbid conditions, often with visibility measured in inches and total darkness at the bottom. In addition to this, most Mud Hole wrecks are heavily fished, and are covered with dangerous tangles of monofilament and fishing nets.
The Mud Hole deepens into the Glory Hole, which deepens further into the Hudson Canyon, which follows the path of a seismic fault, and eventually runs off the edge of the continental shelf down into the abyss at over a mile depth. Along the northeast edge of the Mud Hole is a relatively shallower plateau known as the Monster Ledge, on which lies the most well known and accessible Mud Hole wreck, the Arundo.
Interestingly, all of the wartime Mud Hole wrecks with the exception of the Arundo are victims of collision rather than enemy action, which attests to the enormous amount of shipping in the region at that time.
- shipwreck, wooden something or other
- 155 ft
The Arundo as she appeared just prior to sinking.
Note the locomotives on deck, foreword of the aft mast.
- shipwreck, freighter, Netherlands
- 1930, New Castle England, as Petersfield
- ( 412 x 55 ft ) 5163 gross tons, 43 crew
- Tuesday April 28, 1942
torpedoed by U-136 - 6 casualties
- 140 ft max; 110 ft min; 125 ft typical
In a daring shallow water attack, a single torpedo from the U-136 tore open the starboard side of the Arundo just below the bridge and blew off the hold covers. The stricken ship heeled over to starboard and sank in only five minutes. Survivors of the attack were soon picked up by nearby vessels, but her cargo of war materiel outward bound for the campaign in North Africa never made it. That cargo included jeeps, big 10-wheeled army trucks, 2 locomotives, and 5000 cases of Canadian beer. After the war the Arundo was wire dragged and otherwise demolished, and her exact location was lost. There are several other wrecks in close proximity which have all gone under the name Arundo until the true Arundo was finally re-identified.
What remains of the real Arundo is more a vast debris field than a ship, although some parts are still tall and almost recognizable. The highest parts near the bow are at about 110 ft, but the bulk of the wreck is at 120-130 ft, and the stern goes down to 140 ft at the sand. This is not a dive for the faint-hearted. You can expect a long boat ride to cold, silty, dark conditions in the Mud Hole, and the depth of this site is going to require a considerably higher level of experience and equipment than most others, and should only be attempted by those who are realistically prepared. The Arundo is also heavily fished, and offers myriad ways for the unwary diver to get entangled in the usually poor visibility. This is a two-knife double-tank decompression dive.
If you are willing and able, what you will find is amazing. By way of comparison, imagine the Mohawk, but twice as big and twice as deep. Or better yet, imagine the Algol with a full cargo, exploded all over the place. I was told the bow juts up with two huge anchors still attached and is very impressive, so I got directions and set out to find it on the second dive. Well, I must have taken a wrong turn*, because I went out to the end of a 300 ft wreck reel, and I never saw a bow, or an anchor, or an end to this enormous wreck.
Everywhere there are large truck tires, some still mounted in eight wheel sets to double-axle truck differentials, others crated together or just lying around. Much other debris is scattered all over, and in many places the walls of the hull still stand high out of the sand. One of the locomotives lies off the wreck in the sand; the other resembles a overly long, narrow boiler. Most of the parts having rusted away. At right is a drive wheel.
There is a seemingly never-ending supply of unbroken but rather ordinary one quart clear glass beer bottles for collectors of such things. These bottles are filled with the foulest looking black muck. In fact, every part of this wreck seems to be covered in filth and sediment ( as if there is such a thing as a clean wreck ! ) and the overall conditions are rather dark and dreary, even on a good day.
A large truck wheel. The rubber tire is still intact and the tread is visible around the edges.
The Arundo is a veritable car-parts store. Here are tires and radiators.
I think this is an upside-down truck engine. The oil pan has rusted away, exposing the heavily corroded crankshaft.
Something good to avoid - probably a fishing boat's lost anchor line. Such entanglements abound on this and all Mud Hole wrecks.
The bell of the Arundo
The Arundo is not really known as a lobster wreck, although it produces a few. There are also mussels, but they are very dirty. Fish life is dominated by large ling and winter flounder.
* Since the directions involved "taking a left turn from the anchor line", and I suspect that the current had reversed between the first and second dive, I probably ended up going back to the stern rather than up to the bow. I have seen this kind of reversal happen on the
Algol. Always get compass bearings!
|| Petersfield, Cromarty
||412' x 55' x 26'
|Type of vessel:
||Northumberland Shipbuilding Company, Newcastle, England
|Port of registry:
||April 28, 1942
|Cause of sinking:
||Torpedoed by U-136 ( Kapitanteutnant Zimmermann )
Arundo, taken only days before the fatal torpedoing, shown with the locomotives lashed to the after deck. Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
By this time the war was in full swing, and military cargoes left New York on a regular basis. In this case the materiel bound for Alexandria, Egypt, ( via Capetown, Africa ) was comprised of such dilectables as 2,000 cases of evaporated milk, 7,000 cases of canned herring in tomato sauce, 4,500 drums of lubricating oil, 55,000 bags of nitrate of soda, 123 GMC 3-ton trucks, and, as deck load, two 2-8-2 coal fired steam locomotives and their tenders. Oh, and 5,000 boxes of beer.
Captain A.C. Trdelman, the Dutch master, had already lost one ship to enemy action, when she was bombed in European waters. Everything seemed bright and cheery this spring morning: "the weather was clear, sea calm with slight swells, wind, little or none, visibility excellent." From the bridge he saw two tankers and a U.S. destroyer 4 miles to the south, and 2 other merchantman close to the horizon.
For a freighter and non-combatant, the Arundo was armed to the teeth: an aft mounted 4- inch deck gun, two 20mm antiaircraft guns, two twin Marlins, and two 30 caliber Hotchkiss guns.
At 9:30 a.m., only 4 hours out of port, Chief Officer Akkerman and 3rd Officer Van Rhee spotted the wake of a torpedo. Instantly, a tremendous explosion tore out the starboard hull just under the bridge. The violent concussion shook the ship, and a column of water shot up into the air. "The hatch covers in #2 hold were blown off; #1 lifeboat destroyed, and the radio equipment damaged."
The submarine was not seen, and there was no time for the gunners to man their weapons. The Arundo took an immediate starboard list. It took only 5 minutes for the vessel to tilt to 90 degrees and slip beneath the waves.
The scrambling crew launched three lifeboats and two rafts. One of the lifeboats was pulled under as the ship sank, the other two were damaged. Most of the men ended up donning lifebelts and leaping into the frigid water. Of the crew of 43, 6 were lost: "Two individuals, a trimmer and a fireman, were not seen subsequent to the attack, and the other 4 men may have lost their lives either in the lifeboats that were faultily launched or because one of the locomotives, which were a part of the deck load, tipped into the water among the swimming survivors."
The men spent two hours floating about until the destroyer USS Lea picked them up. All the officers agreed that "the installation of a convoy system was necessary to protect merchant shipping along the East Coast of the United States."
No salvage was attempted. The wreck was marked with a buoy until it was demolished, and cleared to a least depth of 63 feet. During a 1950 survey it was again wire dragged, this time to 72 feet.
Because of its size, the Arundo is one of the most fascinating wrecks to explore: it is almost never-ending. Although the hull has been blown apart, huge sections remain intact. In several places parts of the super-structure sit on slightly tilted angles, their rooms readily accessible but not complicated enough to be dangerous. Truck chasses are strewn about, as are axles and differentials; the metal bodies have long since rusted away. Rubber tires lie everywhere. Clear glass, 1 quart beer bottles abound by the thousands. Miscellaneous brass parts are all over the wreck.
The remains of the locomotives can be found in the sand on the starboard side, about 50 to 100 feet forward of the propellor. They lie on their sides and are difficult to recognize because the cabs are gone and all external metal components long since turned into rust. Essentially, what you can expect to see are just the long, narrow boilers, with the trains of wheels.
Interestingly, when John Dudas recovered the ship's bell, the name cast in bronze was Petersfield, the Arundo's christened name.
Fish practically blanket the wreck, and the convolutions of broken hull plates offer almost infinite hiding places for lobsters. Hardly anyone comes back from the wreck empty-handed; there is always something to bring up.
The U-136 survived only another couple months. On her next war patrol, while operating off the west coast of Spain against a Gibraltar-bound convoy, she was sunk by the HMS Spey, the HMS Pelican, and the RF Leopard. There were no survivors.
GARY GENTILE'S POPULAR DIVE GUIDE SERIES
Shipwrecks of New Jersey
As suggested by the title and series name, this volume covers the most well-known wrecks sunk off the coast of New Jersey.
For each of the wrecks covered, a statistical sidebar provides basic information such as the dates of construction and loss, previous names ( if any ), tonnage and dimensions, builder and owner ( at time of loss ), port of registry, type of vessel and how propelled, cause of sinking, location ( loran coordinates if known ), and depth. In most cases, an historical photograph or illustration of the ship leads the text. Throughout the book is scattered a selection of color underwater photographs, some of the wrecks, more often of typical marine life found in the area.
Each volume is full of fascinating narratives of triumph and tragedy, of heroism and disgrace, of human nature at its best and its basest. These books are not about wood and steel, but about flesh and blood, for every shipwreck saga is a human story. Ships may founder, run aground, burn, collide with other vessels, or be torpedoed by a German U-boat. In every case, however, what is emphatically important is what happened to the people who became victims of casualty: how they survived, how they died.
Also included are descriptions of the wrecks as they appear on the bottom. At the end of each volume is a bibliography of suggested reading, and a list of more than 400 loran numbers of wrecks in and adjacent to the area covered..
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The shaft alley
Type VIIC U-boat U-136, at the u-boat pens, sunk July 1942
- shipwreck, freighter, Brazil
- 1930, Germany, as Roland
- ( 468 x 58 ft ) 6872 gross tons, 67 crew
- Wednesday June 10, 1945 ( well after cessation of hostilities )
collision with freighter General Fleischer - 1 casualty
- 170 ft, starts at 110 ft
The Oil Wreck, or Ayuroaca as she was named, was German-built by the Akt Ges Wessner company in Bremen, 1912, as the Roland. Her length was 468 feet with a 58 foot beam and displacing 10,500 tons. On June 6, 1945, while under Brazilian ownership she collided in a dense fog with the Norwegian ship General Fleischer. The General Fleischer received a tear above her water line but to the Ayuruoca the collision was fatal. She sank within a half hour taking only one of her crew with her.
Today the Oil Wreck is located in an area of the New York Bight called the Mud Hole. This is an area scoured by the continual flow of the Hudson river and an accumulation of sediment from the river accounts for the name. This area tends to be a bit deeper than surrounding waters due to the rivers effects and the visibility tends to suffer for the same reason. The Ayuruoca is in 170 feet of water, sitting upright. Her masts are still standing and reach to within 80 feet or so of the surface. Her decks are covered with war materials, namely military vehicles. You can see codfish among the trucks on her decks.
There are a lot of nets and monofilament on the wreck, this combined with the lack of ambient light and low visibility make it a cautious dive. During your surface interval, look around, you will see small oil rainbows from fuel still leaking from the wreck after 50 years of submersion. This is one of the deeper dives, make sure you are trained and experienced for this sort of dive before you attempt it. There are better deep dives for your preparation where the visibility is better and the risk of entanglement not so great. If you are ready for the Oil Wreck, don't miss it, it's one of the favorites of experienced North East Wreck Divers.
Views of the crow's nest - the highest part of the wreck
Looking up the main mast
A fallen pulley
The ship's helm
General Fleischer after the war as Tortugas
- 120 ft
shipwreck, covered with monofilament
- sailing ship
- Balaena is an old term for whale, derived from Latin. The name was found inscribed on the ship's bell.
- 170 ft
shipwreck, wooden hull full of coal
A wood sailing ship in the Mud Hole at a depth of 170 feet. She was a collier or ore carrier. She is still largely intact, coal in what's left of her holds. Divers tell tales of finding lots of deadeyes, but I haven't seen or heard of one coming from this wreck in many years. Her bell was found to identify her name, but not much else has been discovered about her history. A dive for the very experienced diver. Limited visibility, deep and dark. For those with the technical dive skill it is a very nice dive.
- shipwreck, probably a barge
- 120 ft
A sailing ship or small steamship in 120 feet of water. Sandy bottom, but given to silty conditions. Like the Deep Dry Dock, she has been dragged apart, mowed down and pulled apart. She has some nice bronze parts strewn about.
It had been a good lobster and scallop dive. It is too often dived any more, probably due to her shrinking condition and depth
- shipwreck, freighter, Chile
- 1937, England, as Helga
- ( 292 x 41 ft ) 1700 gross tons, 67 crew
- Thursday September 21, 1944
collision with tanker British Harmony, then with freighter Voco ( 5090 tons) while at anchor, then with tanker Empire Garrick - no casualties
- 195 ft, starts at 160 ft
The Voco was also involved in the collision that sank the Gypsum Prince.
- shipwreck, freighter, Canada
- 1931, Netherlands? as Castor
- ( 211 x 45 ft ) 466 gross tons, 14 crew
- Saturday January 10, 1942
collision with Byron D Benson ( 7953 tons) - 1 casualty
- 40°25.662' -73°50.736' (AWOIS 2013)
- 130 ft
mostly intact, dark and dismal
The Byron D Benson was torpedoed and sunk off North Carolina
- shipwreck, dry-dock barge
- 110 ft
This anonymous big rectangular wooden dry-dock barge lies off Asbury Park, out near the edge of the Mud Hole. It is similar to the better-known
Immaculata. The hulk of the wreck rises up as much as 10 feet, partially intact, while the upper sides have collapsed into the silty sand. Holes in the main wreckage allow penetration into the dark interior, which is surprisingly barren. A debris field of large rectangular ballast stones, wooden ribs, and rusted machinery extends from the western edge of the wreck, and to a lesser extent all around it. In exceptional late October fifty foot visibility the view of this wreck from above was impressive, but overall this is not a very pretty site, and it is seldom dived. Good for lobsters, Sea Bass, scallops, and decompression.
This was once a great dive spot. It was the best-producing place for a big catch of scallops and lobster on or near the high wood walls and sandy but silty bottom. This was probably a very big dock in her day. Today, it has fallen apart from the ravages of the ocean and draggers so that not much remains. It is very hard to find now and divers can get easily lost swimming from piece to piece in limited vis. There are probably scallops here still. It's still worked over pretty well by the scallopers. For those of us who dived her before, it's a shame to see what's become of her wreckage due to being dragged apart. A good example of habitat lost to bottom draggers.
-- Capt Steve Nagiewicz
- shipwreck, freighter, Greece
- One of the Goulandris brothers, who's shipping company owned the vessel.
- 1910, England, as Maria Stathatos
- ( 362 x 51 ft ) 3750 gross tons, 31 crew
- Tuesday December 1, 1942
collision with freighter Intrepido - no casualties
- 190 ft
The Intrepido was scrapped in 1950
- shipwreck, barge
Location courtesy of Capt. Dan Berg of
- shipwreck, tanker
- ( 120 ft )
- 115 ft
This is erroneously called a tug, but it's shape and size indicate that she was once might have been a small oiler or tanker. The wreck lies upright in the muddy bottom at 120 feet. She comes up 15 feet off the bottom in many places and is mostly intact. I have little idea of age, but her conditions suggest she's been there for 30-40 years or more.
Nothing of substance in the way of artifacts. She is all steel. It should be a nice place for lobster, as she isn't often dived, but after many years of trying, we have never made the great killing you'd expect from a not too often dived spot. A very nice dive despite this.
I make no claim as to the accuracy, validity, or appropriateness of any information found in this website. I will not be responsible for the consequences of any action that is based upon information found here. Scuba diving is an adventure sport, and as always, you alone are responsible for your own safety and well being.
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