Jan 03

Ellin Aground 1963


pt-arguello-page.jpgDecember 16, 1963

Professional navigators call this an “Oops”.
The 1500-ton freighter Ellin ran aground in a heavy Monday morning fog near Pt. Arguello. The 508-foot ship was trying to make the turn between the Channel Islands and the coast. They were lucky they did not turn a little earlier and end up on the rocks. About 40 years earlier 23 sailors died when seven U. S. Navy destroyers ran aground at nearby Point Honda, California.
No one was injured in the grounding of the Ellin. According to the website for Friends of the Pt. Arguello Lighthouse, the turn is like threading a needle.
“…this section of the coast is known as the “Graveyard of the Pacific”, and is home to over fifty known shipwrecks.”
At the time the area was called the Navy Missile Test Facility, now we call it Vandenberg Air Force Base. The 3 million dollar ship (in 1963 dollars) was stuck for 6 days. Salvage crews used three tugboats and two sets of beach gear (winches and anchors) to free the vessel, which then sailed to San Pedro. Triton Shipping of New York City was the owner.
I like this view better than the one the paper published because you can see the crew in the foreground, giving the ship a sense of scale. I am assuming that the the staff writer who wrote the Telegram-Tribune story. Some reporters seem to have a knack for walking into the best frame.
(Thanks to reporter Pat Pemberton who helped me improve this entry and who never walks into the key frame.)

Telegram-Tribune photo by Neil Norum

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