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Prins Willem V
Known as the "Willie" this is one of the most popular wrecks in Milwaukee. She lies intact at about 80ft with penetration possible for the trained and experienced divers.

Dutch motorship built in 1948 at Neder-Hardinxveld, Netherlands by N.V. Scheepswerf en Machinefabriek, "De Merwede" Voorheen Van Vliet & Co. for Oranje Line, Maatschappij Zeetransport N.V., Rotterdam, Holland.

On May 10, 1940, when she was only two-thirds completed, she was scuttled by the Netherlands army on the New Waterway River at Rotterdam to block use of the waterway by invading Germans. Raised in 1945 by the Oranje Line. Cleaned, reconditioned and completed. Made her maiden voyage in Jan. 1949.

Was a St. Lawrence canal size vessel engaged in regular trade between Northern European ports and the Great Lakes. On Oct. 14, 1954, she collided with the oil barge Sinclair XII, which was being towed by the tug Sinclair Chicago about 1.7 mi. 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 ft. section of plate from the starboard side. Electrical and communications systems knocked out. Sailed eastward another two miles and sank, 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 Corps decided it was a possible navigation 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. 1965 the wreck sold at an auction to Charles K. Huthsing, chairman of the board of Fire Guard Co., Northbrook, Ill., to be used as a floating salesroom for his extinguisher firm. But, after four seasons of work, the Willem was not raised.

  • Prins Willem V: Afloat
  • Prins Willem V: Stern
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Lift barrels
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Image
  • Prins Willem V: Plaque
  • Prins Willem V: Plaque
  • Prins Willem V: Carrie and plaque
  • Prins Willem V: Amidships Walkway
  • Prins Willem V: Burbot
  • Prins Willem V: Winch
  • Prins Willem V: Rail
  • Prins Willem V: Steps
  • Prins Willem V: Debris
  • Prins Willem V: Chuck and line
  • Prins Willem V: Chuck and line
  • Prins Willem V: Plaque
  • Prins Willem V: Plaque
  • Prins Willem V: Burbot
  • Prins Willem V: Bow
  • Prins Willem V: Wheel pedistal
  • Prins Willem V: Crows Nest
  • Prins Willem V: Mast base
  • Prins Willem V: Stern lettering
  • Prins Willem V: Wheel Pedistal
  • Prins Willem V: Deck
  • Prins Willem V: Mast
  • Prins Willem V: Siloquette
  • Prins Willem V: Stern
Thumbnail panels:
Now Loading
Other Names: none
Vessel Specifications: 258 ft., 1567 t.
Type of Vessel: Propeller motor vessel, steel, package freight
Depth to Deck: 55 ft (16m)
Depth to Bottom: 90 ft (27m)
How it Sunk: 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 of 30 were rescued by the Coast Guard cutter HOLLYHOCK. She was scuttled while building to prevent capture by Nazis, refloated and completed in 1948-9.
Date of Loss: 1954, Oct. 14
Place of Loss: 3.75 mi E of Milwaukee Harbor mouth
Lives Loss: none
References: Shipwreck File by Dave Swayze