The "Monte Cervantes"

The Monte Cervantes was a 525 ft ship that cruised the route Buenos Aires, Puerto Madryn (Chubut), Punta Arenas (Chile), Ushuaia, Buenos Aires, under german flag. It belonged to the South American Hamburg Company.

Having departed on January 22nd, 1930, from Ushuaia, with a crew of 350 and 1200 passengers aboard, she hitted a group of submerged rocks (probably those named “Pan de Indio”, near Les Eclaireurs islets), at 9 PM. The impact made a fissure in the bow that put the ship in danger of sunking. After assessing the damage, Theodor Dreyer, the captain, decided to evacuate the ship. He remained aboard with a few crew. All the passengers were saved, with some of their belongings.

The Cervantes remained afloat twentyfour hours more, and then, during the low tide, she capsized, producing the only victim of the accident, her captain. The cruiser remained partially submerged, and fixed to some rocks from her stern.

Ushuaia had in those years a population of no more than 800 people. It is easy to imagine the impact of new 1500 persons in the city. They were distributed in family houses, and even in the prison, where the inmates shared their food with the new visitors.

After long 11 years of hard working, on October 7th 1945, divers of the Salvamar Co. succeded to free the ship from the rocks. The ship was divided in two, and with the help of four tugboats (one of them is the Saint Christopher, that is partially afloat near the Ushuaia harbor), tried to tow her hull to Ushuaia. But suddenly, a bad maneuver ended with the ship sunking forever in the Beagle Channel waters.

The ship was rediscovered a few years ago by a group of local divers. What they found is the deck, masts, and all the upper part of the ship (that had been separated from the hull to facilitate her tow), at a depth between 35 and 45 meters (115-148 feet). The hull remains in more than 100 meters deep (300 feet), somewhere south of the Les Eclaireurs islets, and well beyond the sport diving limits.

More information on this shipwreck, including press releases from the second discovery (in Spanish), here.

The Monte Cervantes, still fixed to submerged rocks, begins to sink
... and sinks forever.