SC 241 – The Mysterious Wreck in the Hanover Flats

The SC 241 being scrapped 

As long as I can remember, I was mystified by the boat or ship atop the marsh in ”The Hanover Flats,”  on the South River .  Sometimes during the summer, at night, my Dad, Mom and I would take a ride to Humarock and up to the cliff. As we passed Hatch’s Boat Yard, the dim shadow of the boat would appear out atop of the marsh, with  dim lights  showing thru the windows.

My Dad said it was once a Rum-runner — oh wow, more mystery! Dad told me it was there before he arrived in 1927. Dad worked for Charlie Clark of Clark’s Store in the early ’30s and said that the people who lived in the boathouse on the flats would come to the store for groceries during the summer — but he didn’t know their names or where they came from.

During the summer, two or three dories or skiffs would be tied to the rear porch built on the back (stern) of the boat. A large square box-like structure was built in the middle, like living quarters. A line of windows could be seen from Central Ave. There was a tall flagpole near the center. I remember it as being grey natural wood with little paint.


A few of the Humarock kids that had boats would go aboard in the fall or spring, when no one was there, and tell stories about the skeletons seen inside. Not true, but it made even a greater mystery! Oh, how I wanted to go aboard and see for myself. I never did.

There have always seemed to be conflicting stories about the history of the mysterious wreck on the Hanover Flats in the South River, between Humarock and Branch Creek, which is south of Trouants Island. In Edward Rowe Snow’s story about the Submarine Chaser S-241, published in the Patriot Ledger on 12/11/67, he wrote, “First I was informed that the craft was a rum runner which was trapped during prohibition days under heavy gunfire at half tide on Hanover Flats, after which it was abandoned.” I really like that part — my Dad told me many stories of the rum running days in Humarock.

Snow goes on, “Then I was told it was not a rum runner but a rum chaser which, after a successful career, ended her days on the edge of the North River and went ashore at the Hanover Flats in a gale. This story was objected to by a prominent resident of the area who told me that it was neither a rum runner nor a rum chaser but actually a submarine chaser which had been converted into a Rum runner during prohibition and operated in the Marshfield-Scituate area for three years, during which time its owner buried hundreds of cases of liquor at various places on the marsh, two of which I was taken to. Surely enough, it did appear as though something had been placed there at some time.”

Snow continues, “My informant also assured me that there were still scores of bottles which had been hastily pushed into the soft ooze in the area and were still there. As to whether  the contents were useable , he did not offer any comment.”

These are the same stories I heard from Seaview and Humarock residents in the ’40s. I will have more about buried “hooch” later. Many times I passed the remains of the mysterious wreck to go clamming in the area. The ribs stuck up maybe three feet with some planking still attached. One shaft lay in the middle for years. Not until 1967 did I learn the much more accurate story about the SC 241 from the Edward Rowe Snow article.

Peeking through the remains of the SC 241 Submarine Chase

                                                               Dolly Snow Bicknell                                                                                                                                  

A total of 447 SCs were built. The New York Launch and Engine Company at Morris Heights, New York built the SC 241 in 1918. Commissioned April 8 1918, and captained by Ensign Robert L. Mills, she was 110 feet long, beam 14’9”, and draft 5’8′. Her speed was 18 knots, powered by 3three 220 hp gasoline engines, with three props, endurance 1000 n.m. Her armament included a 3” gun, two 30 cal. machine guns and one Y gun.

The origin of the Submarine Chaser (SC) traces back to World War I and the SC-1 class, wooden hulled, “Splinter Fleet.” The SC was designed for off shore patrols and anti-submarine warfare.

The SC 241 left New London, Connecticut, on May 13,1918, after being outfitted with submarine detectors and wireless telephones. She arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, five days later. On July 11, 1918, in the company of SC 247, she sighted a U-boat on her starboard side in a thick fog. At 3:40 p.m., she sighted a torpedo heading for a freight ship, which managed to avoid the torpedo. Pursuing the U-boat, she was able to get less than 35 yards away and then fired depth charges from the “Y” gun. One charge landed 10 yards in front of the periscope, which immediately disappeared. Five seconds later, a terrific explosion followed.
It is not known whether the U-boat she destroyed was ever identified.

After the war, the SC 241 was struck from the naval registry. She was sold for scrap on May 11, 1921, to the C.P. Comerford Co. of Lowell, Massachusetts, and stripped of guns, engines and all hardware. Sometime later she was sold to a John F. Smith, and towed by a tug to the South River, where she was then anchored. The Smith family painted the interior in various colors. The SC 241 came with a pilot house and a crow’s nest.

The SC 241 as I remember it c. mid 40’s by  W. Ray Freden  2019.

A storm in November 1925 caused the SC 241 to break away from her mooring. Blown across the marsh, she became stranded on the Hanover Flats. The Smith family dug a trench in the marsh and settled the sub-chaser into the south side of the flats. The family added a five-room structure, a rear porch, and a landing on the stern, which faced south. The family used the SC 241 as a summer home for many years.


  The SC 241 with a  six room living structure built atop by the Smith Family in the mid ’20’s.

Photo, collection of Janet Fairbanks.

During World War II, the history-making SC 241 was used less, and without care, began to deteriorate. Torched by vandals, she burned to the water line as fire companies watched helplessly from Central Ave. in Humarock. I never heard that anyone was charged with the arson.

On Monday July 1, 1968, the 50th. anniversary of the SC 241’s proudest moments, a small group from the Massachusetts Marine Historical League visited what remained of the craft out on the Hanover Flats. After a brief ceremony the members paid their respects to the crew of the SC 241 who had achieved fame half a century before, out on the rough waters of the North Atlantic when they sent a German Submarine to the bottom.

S.C.’s  wasting away in Dorchester Bay. c. 1920’s


”We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch-we are going back to whence we came .”       John F. Kennedy

W. Ray Freden Seaview/ Marshfield, 70 years.


Note: Much of this information came from Edward Rowe Snows “Sea and Shore Gleanings, “ published in The Patriot Ledger on 12/11/67. The coordinates are 42º 09′ 10. 88” N x 70º 42′ 21. 81” W. These are very close to the site were the SC 241 once was.





One Reply to “SC 241 – The Mysterious Wreck in the Hanover Flats”

  1. Hi, Ray.

    Thanks for a great story. The rum runner account is certainly plausible. After the war, most of the chasers were sold and converted to various purposes, from small yachts to fishing vessels – and yes, some were apparently used as rum runners.

    A few notes on details:

    There were 441 chasers built in the WWI era. Of these, 403 were completed during wartime, and of those, 100 were sold to France, leaving a USN fleet during the war of 303.

    The engines were 220 hp Standard Motor Construction Company engines (so the total hp was 660, not that of each motor). 18 knots was the theoretical top speed, but really it was more like 14 knots, maybe 16. 1000 nm cruising radius is correct. That's with gasoline tank capacity of 2,400 gallons, so not exactly the most efficient machines. They were, however, rugged and available in large numbers at the time.

    In the torpedo/depth charge event on 1 July 1918, it's pretty safe to say that they didn't sink a submarine. Early on in the war there were all kinds of reports of sinkings, but the Navy understood quickly enough that an oil patch didn't equal a kill. In the end, no chasers were officially credited with submarine kills, although there are a couple of cases that strike me as likely (but not this one).

    I love the summer home story. Is there enough left of the hull to warrant someone diving the site? Probably everything's pretty well gone, by now.

    While I don't have a photo of SC 241 on The Subchaser Archives site, there is one printed in the book, _The United States Navy in the World War_ (Russell and Moore, 1921, page 63). I'll have to see if I can find that Patriot Ledger article.

    Todd Woofenden, The Subchaser Archives,

Leave a Reply