The Nisbet Grammer is the largest steel steamer to have foundered in Lake Ontario. She sank enroute from Port Colburne to Montreal on May 31, 1926 after colliding with the steamship Dalwarnic in a dense fog.
Shipwreck explorers Jim Kennard and Dan Scoville began their initial search for the vessel in September 2008.
What was thought to be an easy shipwreck to find turned out to be more of a challenge than they expected, Kennard said. Their search did, however, lead to several new discoveries in this area of the lake.
Kennard said they found the wreck of the Nesbit Grammer in late August 2014 in more than 500 feet of water about 8 miles from the shore of Somerset, N.Y., but he was unable to share the information at that time.
The Nisbet Grammer, named for one of its Buffalo-based owners, was launched from a shipyard in England in 1926. It was known as a “canaller,” a type of steamship used to transport grain, coal and other products through Ontario’s Welland Canal to ports on lakes Erie and Ontario.
Once the Nisbet Grammer was located the underwater remote-operated vehicle (ROV) was deployed to video the shipwreck. Over 900 feet of fibre optic tether were used to reach this shipwreck.
There were very strong lake currents on the day the team surveyed the steamship with the remotely operated vehicle. It was literally a tug of war as Scoville fought the effect of the lake currents on the long tether to eventually inch the ROV to the hull of the Nisbet Grammer.
Arriving at the base of the port bow of the large steamer’s hull it appeared as a great wall just waiting to be conquered. The ROV ascended over 40 feet to the bow rail of the Grammer.