Arratoon Apcar

Old color drawing of a steamer ship with three masts
The Arratoon Apcar ran aground near Fowey Rocks in 1878.
Remnants of a hull lies at the bottom of the ocean with corals growing in the wreckage

NPS photo

  • Built: 1861 - Scotland

  • Sank: February 17, 1878 – Fowey Rocks

  • Route: Havana to Liverpool

  • 261 foot, 1,480 ton, iron-hulled screw steamship

  • Location: 25º 35.498N, 80º 5.728W


Arratoon Apcar was built by James Henderson and Son of Renfrew, Scotland in 1861. This iron-hulled steamer measured 262 feet long, had a 35 foot beam, displaced 1480 tons, and was powered by a 250 horsepower engine.

The ship was named after the founder of her original owners (Apcar and Co.), an Armenian family who established a furniture business in Bombay, India. In 1872, the Apcar family acquired a much larger vessel, which they also christened "Arratoon Apcar", while the original ship was sold to H.F. Swan and registered in London.

The original Arratoon Apcar met its demise steaming to Havana on the evening of February 20, 1878 when Captain Pottinger miscalculated his position and ran aground at Fowey Rocks. Interestingly enough, lighthouse construction was well underway at that sight, and the steamship narrowly missed the platform where several workers were encamped. The crew attempted to de-water the ship for three days, after which point they manned their lifeboats and headed ashore. The nearby Tappahannock rescued the captain and all 24 of his crew. By March 12, foul winter weather had made the coal-laden ship a total loss.

Today, the wreck of Arratoon Apcar lies in ten to twenty feet of water near Fowey Rocks. The coral-encrusted lower hull and iron beams of the vessel can still be seen, along with some evidence of other structures, including remnants of the rudder and mast. The shallow depth of the wreck and the abundance of fish make it an attractive site for diving or snorkeling.

Divers explore the remains of the <i>Arratoon Apcar</i>.
Divers explore the remains of the Arratoon Apcar.

NPS photo by Brenda Lanzendorf

Last updated: June 10, 2021

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