Source: Gentile, Gary, Shipwrecks of North Carolina: From Hatteras Inlet South, Gary Gentile Productions, 1992
Name: SCHURZ Type: Gunboat
Date Sunk: 6/21/18 Cause: Collision with SS Florida
Size (ft.): 255 x 32 x 14 Tonnage: 1,603 tons
Propulsion: Coal-fired steam Location N34° 11.218'/W76° 36.127'

The Schurz started its life in 1894 as a german armed cruiser named the SMS Geier. She had both steam and sail propulsion and was a mix of copper sheathing, steel and wood. The Geier served in the German navy during the Spanish-American War (1894), the Boxer Rebellion (1900-1905), and Turkish-Italian War (1911-1913).
During the beginning days of WWI, the Geier was in the pacific and was being pursued by Japan. She entered the then neutral port of Honolulu, Hawaii in 1914 for supplies and repairs. The US was neutral at the time and not yet entered the war but German interests did not align with those of the United States. The Geier was interred at that point and the US Navy prevented her leaving so that she would not support German war efforts. Almost 3 years later, she seized at the entry of the United States into WWI (1917). She was re-fitted and launched as the Schurz in October 1917 and served in the US Navy in convoy duties as a patrol vessel.
On June 18, 1918, the Schurz was struck by the SS Floridia who was running with lights out to avoid german submarines. The Schurz sank several hours later with one fatality.
U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command via NOAA U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command via NOAA

Diving Depths: 95-110 ft.
Visibility: Generally very good; range 50 to 100+ ft. Visability is often reduced to less than 10 feet because of the schools of baitfish
Current: Slight to moderate
Summer Temperature: high 70s to lo 80s
Points of Interest: Four boilers, engine, port anchor, rudder/steering quadrant, bow and stern deck guns, various sizes of ammunition & bullets;
Fish/Animal Life: Vast schools of baitfish, frequent sandtiger sharks, amberjacks, occasional sea turtles, numerous small tropicals and moray eels;
Description: Also known as the "WWI" or World War One or the Geier , the wreck of the Schurz is contiguous and lies generally on its keel. (It actually lists to its port side This is more noticeable near the stern than anywhere else on the wreck.) The high spots on the wreck are the boilers. From the boilers, forward to the bow, the wreck is quite flat and without much very high relief. Except towards the bow, the wreck is chunky, with distinct large pieces of machinery within the collapsed outline of the hull. Despite its small, compact size, there are days where the vast schools of baitfish (usually tomtate grunts) make it quite easy to get turned around on this wreck - especially if the layout is unfamiliar to you . Sometimes you can't see two feet in front of you even though the water may be super clear! This wreck has suffered a lot in previous decades from overzealous artifact divers. Yet, if you can get on it with out other divers on it, the Schurz, with its abundant fish life and usually clear water, is still a very pretty wreck with lots of interesting machinery and components to explore. Note: a good section of the wreck - especially at the stern was uncovered during the last major hurricane to hit the area. Its quite a change

Copyright © Paul M. Hudy

BFDC dive June 8, 2019: Schurz
BFDC dive August 28, 2021: Schurz

Copyright © Paul M. Hudy

Engine area Stern end of aft boiler pair
bow anchor, port side stern deck gun, port side
Grunts and Atlantic Spadefish gathering on part of the wreckage
Diver approaching the boilers The stern deck gun sticking out of the sand
Near the port side bow of the Schurz. Bow anchor in the foreground with bow deck gun in the upper right.
The extreme bow end of the wreck when the sand covering has been reduced to reveal the wood decking and deck fasteners. The barrel of the bow deck gun can be seen in the distance, on the extreme upper right
The stern pair of boilers Schurz engine
Looking from above, across towards the bow from the port side of the wreck. The bow anchor is mid-center and the decking is upper center
Remains of the capstan on the bow The stern of the Schurz showing the list to port and the rudder. Before a 2017 hurricane, the rudder was buried in the sand.
The propeller shaft and its supporting infrastructure under the starboard stern was revealed once the 2017 Hurricane moved 3-4 ft of sand off the wreck. The remains of the interior structure just forward of the Schurz stern

Unless specifically noted, all photos, text and content Copyright © Paul M. Hudy

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