A strange endpoint to Flier’s grounding….

Posted by Rebekah
Mar 23 2011

Boy, when I go underground, I dig deep and never come up for air, huh? I do apologize for that…again.  Thanks for understanding.

An interesting postscript to Flier’s Midway grounding appeared when I was doing the research for this.  After the war, in the 1950’s, Midway was still a thriving base, complete with schools, housing, medical facilities, recreational facilities, ect. ect.  The one thing Midway didn’t have, however, was a well.  There is no source of fresh water in Midway, and no way to get enough through cistern means.

So it’s freighted in on water barges.  In the 1950’s Midway was struck by yet another major storm, and a water barge grounded…pretty much in the exact same spot Flier had a little over ten years earlier.  This barge is half sunk, either its bow or stern (what’s left of it) is still above water, and the rest gently descends below the surface.  The SCUBA sites for midway describe the water barge as a wonderful place to go snorkling, see fish, take photos, provided the tides and currents are all safe enough to do so.

This Water Barge is visible from Google Earth.  Not very detailed, but it is visible:

There you have it. From what I can gather, this is the point where Flier grounded. The Wreck of the Macaw is due west of it, in the deepest part of the channel.

I’ve never been able to find a good photograph of this barge until I stumbled on an old Blog called “Midway Ranger”.  It’s over two years old now, but it’s a fascinating look at what modern Midway Island is.  Only a handful of people stay there anymore, and tourists are strictly regulated.  It’s the main nesting place for a large number of different kinds of Albatross, more commonly known in WWII as “Gooney Birds”.  Nearly three million birds can be found nesting on Midway Atoll, and judging from the photos, they’re not shy one bit!

But this Ranger posted the only photo of this water barge I’ve ever seen taken from the ground.

Actually, I think this photo is quite stunning. I'm told there are monk seals that are quite fond of that wreck too.

Actually, Midway was also hit by the tsunami that struck Japan two weeks ago.  When it hit Midway, it was only five feet high, but it still managed to swamp Spit Island (the smallest), completely cover 60% of Eastern Island, and 20% of Sand Island, the largest, and only currently inhabited island in the atoll.  There was enough warning to evacuate personnel, but the albatross population was hit hard this year.

So there we are.  If you’re interested in more, check these out:

Midway Ranger Blog (interesting look at a year in the life of a Ranger living on Midway Island.

British Article Documenting the 2011 Tsunami Damage of Midway Island

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