Ss president coolidge
The SS President Coolidge was an American luxury ocean liner that was completed in 1931. She was operated by Dollar Steamship Lines until 1938, and then by American President Lines until 1941. She served as a troopship from December 1941 until October 1942, when she was sunk by mines in Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides, part of current-day Vanuatu.
A large military base and harbor had been established on Espiritu Santo and the harbor was heavily protected by mines. Information about safe entry into the harbor had been accidentally omitted from President Coolidge's sailing orders, and on her approach to Santo on 26 October, President Coolidge, fearing Japanese submarines and unaware of the mine fields, tried to enter the harbor through the largest and most obvious channel. A mine struck the ship in the engine room, and moments later a second mine hit her near her stern.
Captain Henry Nelson, knowing that he was going to lose the ship, ran her aground and ordered troops to abandon ship. Not believing the ship would sink, troops were told to leave all of their belongings behind under the impression that they would conduct salvage operations over the next few days.
Over the next 90 minutes, 5,340 men from the ship got safely ashore. There was no panic as they disembarked; many even walked ashore. However, the captain's attempts to beach the ship were thwarted by a coral reef. President Coolidge listed heavily on her side, sank, and slid down the slope into the channel.
There were only two casualties in the sinking. The first was Fireman Robert Reid, who was working in the engine room and was killed by the first mine blast. The second, Captain Elwood Joseph Euart, 103rd Field Artillery Regiment, had safely got off President Coolidge when he heard that there were still men in the infirmary who could not get out. He returned through one of the sea doors, successfully rescued the men but was then unable to escape himself and went down with the ship. He was awarded the for his heroic actions. A memorial to Captain Euart is on the shore near the access points for the Coolidge. In 2013, Captain Euart's body was reportedly located by a local dive guide and a message was sent to the Australian High Commission, who then passed this onto US authorities in Hawaii. An American recovery team arrived in February 2014, and working with local operators, they found Capt Euart's remains after 73 years with his dog tags and personal items inside deep silt in the bottom of the wreck. Subsequent DNA testing matched with Capt Euart's relatives and his nephew who were advised that US military would perform a full military funeral service and he will be buried with his parents.
protected wreck and dive site:
In 1980 Vanuatu won independence from France and Britain, and on 18 November 1983, the government of the new republic declared that no salvage or recovery of any artifact would be allowed from President Coolidge.
Since then the ship has been used for recreational diving. Divers see a largely intact luxury cruise liner and a military ship. They can swim through numerous holds and decks. There are guns, cannons, Jeeps, helmets, trucks and personal supplies, a beautiful statue of "The Lady" (a porcelain relief of a lady riding a unicorn) chandeliers, and a mosaic tile fountain. Coral grows around, with many creatures such as reef fish, barracuda, lionfish, sea turtles and moray eels.
President Coolidge is the most accessible shipwreck of her size and type. The wreck is one of the most desirable dives due to relatively shallow site, easy beach access, and visibility. The depths involved mean that, with care and decompression stops, recreational divers can explore large parts of the wreck without specialised equipment. The massive size of the wreck, combined with the gradual downward slope, mean that care must be taken monitoring depth, as the diver's horizontal frame of reference may be skewed, preventing awareness of the continual gradual descent.
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