For over 50 years, just off Sunset Beach, in Historic cape may
Point, New Jersey, lies the concrete ship "Atlantus".
Due to a critical shortage of steel, during World War I, the
federal government turned to experimental design concrete ships.
An emergency fleet of 38 concrete ships were planned, by the
United States Shipping Board. Only 12 of the concrete ships were
ever put into service. Two others had construction begun, but
were never completed.
The "Atlantus" was the second prototype, a 3,000 ton 250 foot
long freighter, built with a 5 inch thick hull of special
concrete aggregate, to correct shattering and brittleness
problems found in the first concrete ship.
The "Atlantus" was built by the Liberty Shipbuilding
Corporation, of Brunswick, Georgia. She was launched on November
21st, 1918, at Wilmington, North Carolina. Commissioned June
1st, 1919, the "Atlantus" served for a year as a government
owned privately-operated commercial coal steamer in New England.
With the end of the war, the more efficient steel ships were
again available. The "Concrete Fleet" was de-commissioned, and
the "Atlantus' was sent to the "Bone Yard" at "Pigs Point", in
Norfolk, Virginia in September of 1920. A year later, the "Atlantus"
was stripped after being purchased by a salvage company.
In 1926, the "Atlantus" was towed to Cape May, New Jersey. A
Baltimore firm was attempting to start a ferry service from Cape
May, New Jersey to Lewes, Delaware. It was planned to have a
channel dredged well into shore. The "Atlantus" would then be
forced into the channel. A special drawbridge type of device was
to be mounted on the exposed end. Two other bulks would be sunk
at angles creating a "Y" shape. The ferry would dock by wedging
in and cars and passengers would load and unload by use of the
While awaiting positioning, the "Atlantus" broke loose of her
moorings during a storm June 8th, 1926 and went aground. Several
attempts were made to free the "Atlantus" - they were futile.
Thousands of visitors come annually to view the cracked
weatherbeaten hull and collect beautiful "Cape May Diamonds"
that lie in abundance on Sunset Beach in Historic Cape May
Point, New Jersey.
Compliments of Sunset Beach Gift Shops
Foot of Sunset Boulevard
Cape May Point, New Jersey 08212