SS Bunker Hill

1942 – March 6th, 1964 | 504 feet in length | 280 fsw

On March 6, 1964, at about 4:02 a.m., the Bunker Hill was sailing from Tacoma, Washington to Anacortes, Washington cruising at about 15 knots in Rosario Strait. All storage tanks that usually held various fuels, were empty except for number 6, It was full of ballast. All of a sudden there was a violent explosion between the midship house and the after deck house. The Hill proceeded to break in that very spot. The forward section veered to port and the aft section continued to list starboard. The two sections of the ship were connected for a brief time, then finally broke apart.

She now lays at the bottom of Rosario Strait in 280 feet.

first ship to land a helicopter

The S.S. Bunker Hill was a type T-2 tankship of 10,590 gross tons, 504 feet long, beam 68.2 feet, and 39.2 feet deep. She had a 7,000 horsepower main propulsion unit as compared with the usual 6,000 horsepower unit, brought about by an electrical modification of the main propulsion motor. It was built in 1942 in Chester, Pennsylvania, and owned by Keystone Tankship Corp.

The Hill was actually in service during WWII, used to service navy ships and keep them on line so they wouldn’t have to leave the combat line. It was stationed east of Yap Island which was controlled by the Japanese.

On May 6, 1943 Igor Sikorsky’s (the man who designed the first workable helicopter) R4 helicopter, piloted by Frank Gregory, landed onto the redesigned deck of the Bunker Hill. Sikorsky’s R4 was the first helicopter in history to land on a moving ship, performing a number of rescues and emergency deliveries under field conditions in the last year of WWII.

Courtesy Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society

SS Bunker Hill Floor plans