Discovery of the Regal Sword Shipwreck

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The Nomad & Marine Imaging Dive team of Jeff Goodreau, Ryan King, Evan Kovacs and Richie Kohler became the first divers to successfully explore the wreckage of the Regal Sword, a 575 ft long bulk freighter that was sunk in 1979 in a collision with the Exxon Chester oil tanker. The wreck lay in 270 feet of water, located 40 miles off Nantucket Island Massachusetts USA, and was considered undiveable for many years due to a veil of fishing nets and strong currents, that is until September 27, 2020.

Regal Sword
Image credit unknown

Shadow Diver Richie Kohler is a shipwreck hunter who has hosted several television episodes and is one of the main personalities in the Shadow Divers of Robert Kurson. The diving experiences of Richie Kohler may have started in the waters surrounding his roots, Brooklyn New York, USA but his passion for diving and discovering shipwrecks has brought him to all corners of the globe for over thirty years.

The nationality of the Regal Sword was Liberian, owned by Hector Marine Inc. and was a transport bulk carrier for its purpose. The diesel motor vessel was built in Sweden in 1961.

A collision occurred on June 18, 1979, caused by dense fog, between the S.S. Exxon and the M.V. freight ship Regal Sword, near Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 18 June 1979. Within minutes, the Regal Sword that was filled with scrap, sunk and the Exxon’s bow was badly damaged. The Exxon was repaired and went on to get underway again. As Exxon saved the 33-man crew from the Regal Sword, no lives were lost in the collision.

Regal Sword
Exxon Chester after the collision

It was decided by the National Transportation Safety Board that the possible cause of the accident was the inability of the master of each vessel to correctly interpret and use the radar information available to both vessels. The excessive speeds of both vessels in the thick fog led to the accident; the inability of the Exxon and the Regal Sword to decrease speed after hearing the fog signal and the imprecise navigation of the Regal. It was also decided that when the possibility of collision occurred, the Sword’s alteration of course to port; and the Exxon’s alteration of course without accurate knowledge about the position of the Regal could have contributed to the collision as well.

Depth of the dive was 270 feet, 40 miles off Nantucket Island with 25 minutes bottom time and 90-110 minutes run time.

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Kathy is the owner of Kirk Scuba Gear, a passionate Scuba Diver, Ocean Advocate and Managing Editor of The Scuba News Canada

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