The Wreck Today: Considering how shallow the water is at this site, a lot remains of the wreck. The keel and ribs rise 8 feet off the bottom. Many fish use the remaining structure as their habitat. Parts of the wreck and metal fittings are still found in the sand. Watch for heavy boat traffic and don’t hit this wreck with your props.
A deadeye and strap from the Success is at the Great Lakes Historical Society Museum in Vermilion, Ohio. Other artifacts are housed at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio.
Prison Ship Success
Location: ½ mile off Port Clinton, Ohio Depth:15 feet
Coordinates: LORAN: 43616.4 56855.9 GPS: 41 31.321 82 54.705
Official #: none
Type: teak barquentine Cargo: light
Owner(s) Walter Kolbe of Port Clinton, Ohio
Built: 1840 in Moulmein, India by the British
Dimensions: 135’ x 30’ x 14’ Tonnage: 621
Date of Loss: Thursday, July 4, 1946
Cause of Loss: fire/grounding
Additional information on the Success is on page 184 of Erie Wrecks West.
There are many kinds of great wreck dives in the Great Lakes. Some are ships sitting just beautifully preserved on the bottom waiting for a diver to explore, some are shallow habitats and spawning grounds for sea life. The Success is another type of great shipwreck…a vessel whose remains might lack luster but with such a great story that a diver wants the chance to touch her at least once. This story is the perhaps best on the Inland Seas.She has the longest and most colorful history of any ship that sailed and sank in the Great Lakes. This unique vessel was built as an armed merchantman, but had many incarnations serving as an immigrant ship, prison, ammunition storehouse, freighter, and museum and exhibit vessel. In the course of her long life she sank 5 times, visited 6 continents, and had her history written and rewritten with many fictitious events included.