April 4, 1927
Thelma Rammed and
Sunk Out South
Local Seiner Struck by Railroad Tug During Heavy Fog
Capt. Welch and Crew Saved
The Pennsylvania railroads tug Salibsury,
towing a railroad barge containing 33 cars and feeling her way slowly through a heavy fog
early Saturday morning, crashed into the local mackerel seiner Thelma,
a week out of port, commanded by Capt. Martin L. Welch on International
racing fame, sending the latter to bottom in 10 fathoms of water. The crew barely had time
to escape before the waters closed over their craft. One man, John Brennan,
was injured, but just how badly cannot be learned at this time.
The Thelma was one of the local
mackerel seiners cruising along the Virginia Cape in search of mackerel, and the collision
which occurred off Norfolk, near Old Point Comfort, came after the craft had felt her way
into harbor to anchor for the night in a heavy fog.
Capt. Welch was on deck at the time, when
suddenly there loomed in front of him a large towboat, headed slowly but surely for the
craft. Capt. Welch shouted all hands on deck and there was a mad scramble
form those below to reach the deck before the steamer went down. The captain of the
towboat swung his wheel hard and fast down, and the tug cleared the fisherman, but the
barge behind hit her just forward of the forward rigging, ripping her open like a can
opener. The anchor chain parted and the Thelma driven from four
fathoms of water out into about 10 fathoms of water, where she sank.
Immediately the tug stopped and the men from the Thelma
were taken on board uninjured except Brennan. Not a stitch
of clothing was saved, and none of the men had as much as a nickel in their pockets when
they landed on the deck of the tug. The railroad took care of them, however, and saw that
they didnt want for anything, and arranged for their transportation to this city,
where they arrived this morning.
The Thelma was launched in Essex
in 1913, was 53 tons gross, 25 tons net, and 70 feet long. She was equipped with a 60
horsepower engine and valued at around $25,500. She was owned by Capt. Welch.
It is understood that she is partially covered by insurance.