Fearless

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Fearless (#120889) (1892-1951+), 145-foot steel ocean-going tug out of San Francisco, built by the Union Iron Works for John D. Spreckles. At the time, Fearless was the largest steel tug in the world, and she also provided fire extinguishing facilities to the port of San Francisco. On April 8, 1893, Fearless made a fruitless search for the ship, King James which burned off Santa Rosa Island. Sailor William Spence, who had gone to shore on the island in search of fresh water on April 3rd, was picked up five days later by the Fearless.

In November of 1894, under the command of Captain Haskell, Fearless was sent to the scene of the wreck of the Crown of England on Santa Rosa Island near Ford Point.

In 1918, Fearless was purchased by the U.S. Navy, and her name was changed to Iroquois. She served several years between the islands of Hawaii and Midway as a mail and supply boat, before being decommissioned in 1925. In 1928, she was sold into private hands, and as late as 1951 she was registered to the Bellingham Tug and Barge Company of Washington.



In the News~

April 13, 1893 [LAT/SD]: “The steamer Bonita brings news of the rescue of sailor William Spencer, who went ashore on April 3 at Santa Rosa Island from a small boat of the burned King James to seek water, and who had to be left behind. He reached the camp of sheep herders on the island, and the tug Fearless took him away on Saturday.”


April 13, 1893 [SDU]: “San Diego, April 12. The steamer Bonita brings the news of the rescue of the sailor, William Spence, who went ashore on the 3rd at Santa Rosa Island from a small boat of the burned King James to seek water, and who had to be left. The story is that he became so exhausted that he fell asleep and did not wake for twelve hours. He then started on a search and reached a camp of six sheepherders working for A. P. More, who owns the island. The tug Fearless took him away on the 8th.”


April 14, 1893 [LAT/SB]: “…Singularly enough the first tidings of the missing seaman of the King James, William Spence, who went ashore on Santa Rosa Island to get water, comes by way of San Diego. He found his way to a camp of sheep herders on the island, and they took care of him until the tug Fearless took him off on the 8th. The man, in his weak state, accomplished a feat that few strong men unacquainted with the island would like to undertake in finding his way to this settlement, as the western side of the island is a perfect wilderness marked only by cattle trails.”


April 14, 1893 [SFCall]: “News regarding the sailor who was picked up from Santa Rosa Island by the tug Fearless reached here yesterday through a local firm. The man, whose name is William Spencer, reached the camp of A. P, Morris [A.P. More], a sheepherder [island owner], and was fed and clothed. Had the King James boats landed on the island as did Spencer instead of putting to sea the great calamity which befell the captain's boat would have been averted, as there were ample provisions in the herder's camp to have lasted till the Bonita arrived, which it did a few days subsequent to Spencer's going ashore. The Fearless took Spencer away from the island on the 8th.”


April 16, 1893 [SBMP]: “The tug Fearless, after making another fruitless search for the ship King James, put into this port yesterday afternoon and landed W. Spence, the sailor who was taken from Santa Rosa Island by the tug a few days ago. F. A. Blake procured the sailor a new outfit of clothes and secured for him transportation to San Francisco.”


April 17, 1893 [LAT]: “William Spence, the missing sailor of the King James, who was found on Santa Rosa Island, was brought to Santa Barbara on Saturday by the tug Fearless. F. A. Blake supplied the poor fellow with clothing and money, in behalf of the British consulate, and secured him passage to San Francisco.”


April 18, 1893 [SFCall]: “The tug Fearless returned yesterday afternoon from her search for the King James. The Fearless cruised several hundred miles, but saw no signs of the burned ship. Sailor Spence was found in good health on Santa Rosa Island and brought back safely to the mainland.”


November 14, 1894 [SBMP]: “Captain Dan Haskell of the tug, Fearless, arrived in the harbor at nine o’clock last night from the scene of the wreck of the British steamer Crown of England…”


November 16, 1894 [LAT/SB]: “The tug Fearless, Captain Haskell, arrived in port at a little after 9 o’clock Tuesday night from Santa Rosa Island, bringing a fuller account of the wreck of the steamer Crown of England. The ship is a total wreck… Captain Macguin of the burned wrecking scow San Pedro was on board the Fearless…”


November 18, 1894 [LAT/SB]: “…The tug Fearless left yesterday for San Francisco…”


November 19, 1894 [LAT/SB]: “The Crown of England a total wreck. No hope that the freight steamer can be re-floated again. The tug Fearless returns to San Francisco. The freight steamer, Crown of England, which was wrecked on the rocks of Santa Rosa Island a week ago last Wednesday morning, is reported as being so badly damaged as to prove almost a total loss…”