Dominator Shipwreck

Joined
Mar 15, 2009
Messages
7,500
Location
Los Angeles, CA
An unusually heavy layer of fog enveloped the craggy cliffside coast lining Palos Verdes Estates on March 13, 1961.

The inclement weather made the water particularly difficult to navigate. A cargo ship, the Dominator, was carrying about 9,000 tons of wheat and beef from Vancouver, British Columbia, to the north African nation of Algeria. With no radar on board, the captain slowed the 441-foot-long vessel to about 11 knots as he searched for the Port of Los Angeles, where he planned to fuel up.

Instead, the captain got too close to the rugged shore and the Dominator ran aground off Rocky Point just before 6 p.m.

A distress call was received a short time later by King Harbor lifeguards, who raced from Redondo Beach to Palos Verdes Estates. There were no casualties, and the crew of 34 men chose to remain on board. The next morning, the crew tried to break the ship's engines free from the jagged rocks during high tide, but the attempt was futile. Later on, three of the Dominator's compartments started taking on water.

For the next two days, the crew hoped that the stranded vessel would be pried loose with assistance from tugboats and the rising tide. Instead, divers found that the hull was tightly wedged between the rocks, lying paralyzed in what would ultimately become its final resting place.

The captain finally decided to abandon ship and radioed an SOS just after midnight on March 16. The freighter was starting to break apart as Coast Guard officers and county lifeguards assisted the crew onto a cutter and several tugboats bound for Long Beach.

"A once-mighty ocean creature sighed heavily today and conceded victory to the fury of the sea," according to a March 16, 1961, Daily Breeze story reporting the crew's evacuation.

Here is the ship's final resting place today, 50 years later:

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Closeup of the ship's bow
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Closeup of (unknown) part of the ship
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A piece of the onboard machinery, covered in Ferric Oxide :wink:
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Personal note: The shipwreck is located between Malaga Cove and Lunada Bay in a spot that is very difficult to access. After descending a steep cliff, we hiked for an hour through a beach full of unstable rocks, seeing dead sharks and seals along the way. This area is not frequented by people and can be dangerous during a high tide. We headed on a low tide and I had to work FAST before high tide comes in and possibly get us stranded. It's a strenous hike and I have no plans to go back, but it was a great adventure that I enjoyed. :wink:
 
Joined
Jun 23, 2008
Messages
631
Location
Texas
Interesting story and good pics. I can understand why you would not want to make that trek again.
 
Joined
Mar 30, 2006
Messages
1,406
Real Name
Alvin
This is cool.

I grew up in Torrance.

I recall as a small child, the shipwreck off of Palos Verdes was like
a myth. We heard talk about it but never saw it, so we weren't sure
whether to believe it or not.

I guess this proves that there is a shipwreck off the PV coast.

Alvin
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2009
Messages
7,500
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Thanks all! :smile:

This is cool.

I grew up in Torrance.

I recall as a small child, the shipwreck off of Palos Verdes was like
a myth. We heard talk about it but never saw it, so we weren't sure
whether to believe it or not.

I guess this proves that there is a shipwreck off the PV coast.

Alvin

Alvin,
I work with someone who lives literally in front of the shipwreck along Paseo Del Mar in PV, and even he has never heard of this ship... and he's lived there for more than 20 years!
 
Joined
Jun 14, 2008
Messages
9,867
Location
Florida
Great images. The colors are superb. It's an interesting story and your photos and words tell it very nicely.
 
Joined
Jan 4, 2010
Messages
524
Location
Kent, England
Wow, those are some terrific shots - well done Joseph :smile:!

The ship parts in the first two shots remind me of some kind of tropical marine fish :biggrin: (it's the blue eye and orange scales that do it :wink:).

I like the last one too. Well worth risking your life for, IMHO :tongue:.
 

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