Photomosaic of the sunken schooner Defiance with masts still standing.

Vessel Type: Sail: wooden two-masted schooner

GPS Location: N45° 14.058' W83° 16.707'

Depth: 185 feet

Wreck Length: 115 feet

Beam: 26 feet

Gross Tonnage: 253

Cargo: Grain (corn, wheat)

Built: 1848 by Captain Roby at Perrysburg, Ohio

Wrecked: October 20, 1854

Mooring Buoy Data

Description: During the 1850s, the push for speed on the Great Lakes led to more wrecks than ever before. In the fall of 1854, ship owners and sailors reeled from the most costly season to date: 119 lives, 70 ships, and $2 million in property losses. Defiance and John J. Audubon were victims of that dangerous year.

On October 20, 1854, Audubon sailed north for Chicago with a load of iron railroad track. At 1:30 a.m., the southbound Defiance emerged from the darkness and fog, striking Audubon's mid-section. The collision cut a hole deep in Audubon's hull and fatally damaged Defiance. Audubon sank quickly. Defiance struggled on, finally sinking a few miles away. Miraculously, both crews survived.

Today, Defiance and Audubon rest intact in more than 170 feet of water. Dr. Robert Ballard and Jean-Michel Cousteau have studied the pair of wrecks, helping to bring national attention to these underwater treasures.

Great Lakes Maritime Collection digital archive:

360 Virtual Dive:

Explore the site of the sunken schooner Defiance in this video.
scuba diver near the mast of the defiance
A scuba diver pauses on a safety stop at the cross trees of a Defiance mast.
Side scan sonar image of defiance
Side scan sonar image of the schooner Defiance.
Bow of the ship Defiance
The bow of Defiance as it rests on an even keel. Scuba diving archaeologists document the site.
two divers documenting the wreck of the defiance
Archaeologists document the site of Defiance.
Artistic rendering of Defiance as it lays on the lake bottom today
Artistic rendering of Defiance as it lays on the lake bottom today by artist Robert McGreevy.