New York: The wreck of a 253-foot British-built steamship that sank to the bottom of Lake Ontario off the coast of western New York after colliding with another vessel nearly 90 years ago has now been found. The four-man team from the area of Rochester, New York, Ohio and Texas said it found the wreck of the Nisbet Grammer in more than 500 feet of water about eight miles off Somerset, 40 miles west of Rochester. The ship was carrying a cargo of grain from Buffalo to Montreal when it collided with the steamship Dalwarnic in dense fog early on the morning of May 31, 1926.–DM

The stricken ship sank in less than 15 minutes, but all aboard were saved by the crew from the other steamer.  A six-year search for the sunken ship ended in August when the team’s side-scan sonar detected the wreck, said Jim Kennard, of Fairport. The other team members are Roland Stevens, of Pultneyville, New York; Craig Hampton, of Lorain, Ohio; and former Rochester resident Dan Scoville, who lives in Houston. The Nisbet Grammer, named for one of its Buffalo-based owners, was launched from a shipyard in England in 1926. It was known as a ‘canaller’ - a type of steamship used to transport grain, coal and other products through Ontario’s Welland Canal to ports on lakes Erie and Ontario.  The ship was the largest steel steamer to have sunk in Lake Ontario, Kennard said. The team surveyed more than 80 square miles of lake bottom until finding the wreck site in late August, he said. A remotely operated vehicle was used to obtain video of the shipwreck and identify it as the Nisbet Grammer, Kennard said. The steel bulk freighter Nisbet Grammer was built in Birkenhead, England, by Cammell Laird & Co and launched on April 14, 1923. On the morning of May 31, 1926, the coal-powered cargo steamship was transporting a load of grain from Port Colburne in Buffalo to Montreal when a dense fog descended on the calm lake, significantly reducing visibility. The Grammer reduced its speed by half as a precaution, down to 4.5 knots. At around 5.30am, the crew aboard the steamer heard the sound of a fog horn, and a few minutes later the Dalwarnic came into view directly in front of the cargo ship. The crew on the British-built boat rushed to turn it to starboard in a desperate bid to prevent a collision, but there was not enough time. The crash took place off Thirty Mile Point in Lake Ontario. Less than 15 minutes after the Delwarnic plowed into the Grammer, the hull of the stricken ship filled with water and the boat sank to the bottom of the lake, making it the largest steel steamer shipwreck. Dalwarnic had just been sold by Canadian government to Canada Atlantic Transit Co and was making the trip to the new owners. A formal investigation into the disaster found that the crews on both steamers made errors due to poor visibility.