The Wreck of the Freighter Vanlene

by John M. MacFarlane (2012)


Wreck of the Vanlene (aerial) (Photo (1973) from the John MacFarlane collection. )

The 10,500 ton freighter Vanlene ran up on the rocks on Austin Island in the Broken Group islands on March 14, 1972. She was carrying 300 Dodge Colt automobiles while enroute to Vancouver British Columbia from Japan. The 38–man crew was rescued and taken to Port Alberni. How she ended up on the rocks is still a matter of conjecture but it appears that the Master simply did not know where he was at the time of impact (he thought he was off off of the coast of Washington) and his navigational aids were inoperable. Hopes of salvaging the ship faded quickly when it was discovered she had a major hole in the hull. Concern shifted to the removal of the bunker fuel oil carried in the tanks.

Salvagers, (well ... scavengers really), from nearby towns removed anything movable on the wreck. The winter storms that followed broke the hull up – so that the forward section was all that was visible within a short time.

Authors Addendum (2013): I recently found an old contact print of black and white images I took in the summer of 1973 on a visit to Ucluelet BC. I flew in a small seaplane over the wreck and managed to capture four images. For some reason the pictures were never printed - and all that remains are four very grainy scans from the contact sheet which I share here.


Wreck of the Vanlene (exposed) on Austin Island (Photo (1973) from the John MacFarlane collection. )


Wreck of the Vanlene (breaking up) (Photo (1973) from the John MacFarlane collection. )


Wreck of the Vanlene (bow section) (Photo (1973) from the John MacFarlane collection. )


Wreck of the Vanlene (superstructure) (Photo (1973) from the John MacFarlane collection. )

To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2011) The Wreck of the Freighter Vanlene. 2011.

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