Remnants from destroyed prop ship still around after 95 years

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Matthew Smathers and Amanda Francis are pictured with ‘Faith’ the Deep Trekker rov that found the debris. Courtesy photo

By Ted Apodaca

A group of freelance treasure hunters recently searched the waters off Catalina Island to see if they could locate any remnants from a ship that was destroyed for the filming of the 1926 silent film, “Old Ironsides.” The movie tells the story of the famed ship USS Constitution, which was nicknamed, “Old Ironsides” after cannon ball were said to have bounced off its wooden hull during battles.

During the Battle of Tripoli, another ship, the Intrepid was blown up and sunk as it fought alongside the Constitution. The ship that was used for the scene was destroyed with dynamite for the filming. Now, 95 years later, it appears that some small fragments of the prop ship are still at the bottom of the sea off Catalina.

“She had one hell of a finish,” said Matthew Smathers, who led the search with the group call Storied Treasures.

During the search at a depth of around 42 feet, the groups search with a Deep Trekker rov, dubbed “Faith,” the group located what appear to be some timbers and a large hook that they believe were parts of the destroyed ship. Smathers said he believes they are pieces and that there is likely more but are now buried under the mud.

“I am 100% sure we found wreckage from the Intrepid,” Smathers said. “Its position and the overall placement of objects both natural and unnatural on the bottom was what I had been hoping to find.”

The goal of the Storied Treasures group is to search for shipwrecks and other historical sites, for the purposes of educational videos Smathers said. With that, there are likely more chances to search the waters around Catalina.

Remnants from destroyed prop ship still around after 95 years