The Prins Willem V was constructed as a canal sized vessel so she could trade between Northern European Ports and the Great Lakes Ports. Built in 1948 by the Van Vlier Company of Norway for the Oranje Line of Rotterdam, Holland. Her keel was laid in 1939, but she was not completed until 1948. The long delay was due to the Nazis intentionally sinking her in the Rotterdam harbor in 1943 to impede the liberating forces by blocking a crucial waterway. After the war, in 1945, the Van Vlier Company raised her, and then cleaned, reconditioned and completed the construction.
The Prins Willem V Departed Milwaukee with mixed cargo during heavy overcast and strong winds. Collided with Sinclair Oil Com-any Barge 12 (in tow of the tug Chicago) three miles off Milwaukee Harbor and sank in 90 feet of water. The crew of the Prins Willem V was rescued by Milwaukee Coast Guard. Owners filed suit against Sinclair Refining Co. for 2,000,000 dollars for damages; alleged that the barge was not equipped with running lights, tug was inadequately lit,tow was unseaworthy and carelessly handled." A Coast Guard board of inquiry was held and found both Captains to blame for the accident. Major attempts to raise the Prins Willem V in 1958, 1961 and a few attempts after 1965 all failed.
Today the wreck of the Prins Willem V is intact, resting on its side in 69' of water on a clay bottom; length is 258'. Ships machinery, cargo (printing presses, automobile parts, twine & band instruments) and equipment are intact; large open hatches may be found on deck. Large tanks used in a salvage effort may be found along side the wreck.
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