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The Iristo was a Norwegian steam ship, but built in 1918
originally for the British government in the USA as the War Briar. She was just
over 250 feet in length, 43.5 feet wide, and displaced 1,821 gross tons. When
the USA entered World War One, she was requisitioned and renamed the Lake
Jessup. Sold in 1921 to the International Coal Shipping Board, she plied her
trade until 1925, when she was renamed the Ekstrand by her new Norwegian owners.
Sold again in 1935, she was re-christened the Iristo.
Sailing from St John's, Newfoundland on March 15 1937, carrying flour, gasoline, a steam roller and a fire engine, Captain Christian Stephensen spotted the Cristobal Colon, wrecked the previous year and sitting aground on a reef. The captain assumed that the ship was underway and in safe passage, even though a Notice to Mariners had been posted containing the wreck information. He changed course to follow the Cristobal Colon, and hit the rocks about two miles off North Rock. The Iristo was pulled off the reefs the next day, but the damage was too great. She sunk one mile off the North East Breakers.
Captain Stephensen was blamed for the wreck and charged with negligence by the Marine Board of Inquiry, as he had no local charts on board and no knowledge of the Notice to Mariners. In the reporting of the wreck, the New York Times actually misspelled her name as the Aristo, and is known locally by this spelling.
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17 September 2006