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Great Lakes Shipwreck Diving

Prins Willem V (Willie)

Known as the "Willie", Prins Willem is one of the most popular ship wrecks in Milwaukee and Great Lakes history. She lies intact at about 80 feet with penetration possible for the trained and experienced divers. 

Dutch motor ship built in 1949 at Neder-Hardinxveld, Netherlands by N.V. Scheepswerf en Mahchinefabrik, "De Merwede" Voorheen Van Vliet & Co. for Oranje Line, Maatschappij Zeetransport N.V., Rotterdam, Holland. 

Willie was a St. Lawrence canal size vessel engaged in regular trade between Northern European ports and the Great Lakes. On October 14th, 1954, she collided with the oil barge SINCLAIR XII, which was being towed by the TUG SINCLAIR CHICAGO about 1.7 miles east of the Milwaukee breakwater light. Two collisions - the first a glancing blow to the starboard side of the Willem's bow, then a heavier one amidships, tearing a 20 x 8 foot section of plate from the starboard side. Which led to electrical and communications systems being knocked out. Sailed eastward another two miles before sinking, bow first, at 8:30 p.m. All 30 crew members rescued by the Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock. The Sinclair XII and Sinclair Chicago made port safely. A Coast Guard board of inquiry found both captains to blame. 

Ownership of the Willem was transferred gratis to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corpos decided it was a potential navigational hazard. Max Gene Nohl, a diver from Milwaukee, placed the winning bid to clear the wreckage to 40 feet below the surface in 180 days. The first major attempt to raise her in 1958 failed. Another attempt in 1961 also failed. Then in 1965, the wreck sold at an auction to Charles K. Huthsing, chairman of the board of Fire Guard Co., Northbrook, IL., to be used as a floating salesroom for his extinguisher firm. However after four seasons of work, the Willem was not raised. 

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258 ft., 1567 t. 

Propeller motor vessel, steel, package freight

55 ft (16 meters)

90 ft (27 meters)

She collided with the towed barge SINCLAIR XII, in tow of the tug SINCLAIR HOUSTON (or SINCLAIR CHICAGO), and sank with a 20x8 foot hole in her side. Her crew rescued by the Coast Guard cutter HOLLYSHOCK. She was scuttled while building to prevent capture by Nazis, reflected and completed in 1948-9. 

1954, October 14th

3.75 miles east of Milwaukee Harbor mouth

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Dave Swayze