By Benson Hewitt
I am writing this on the 30th anniversary of the sinking of the Ocean Ranger, February 15, 1982. I remember distinctly the next morning after this tragedy my principal at the time, Pat Donahue, informing me before classes begun. (I was not in the habit of listening to the radio in the morning.)
Perhaps because Newfoundlanders in general are somewhat inured to news of disasters, I seem to think that it did not have the impact on me as now, in hindsight, I think I should have had. I wrote recently on the loss of the Francis P. Duke, and that was just a little over 60 years ago when seven men (six from Fogo, alone) drowned just a few days before Christmas, and that in relative terms was just as tragic. But such was life, and so the people of Fogo, in the due course of time, went about their business, as usual, as they had for several centuries. But, did you know, though, that on March 12, 1896, a terrible disaster took place just off Fogo Island, and the final outcome would have paled in comparison the loss of the life on the Ocean Ranger, had the elements of nature not been a little more generous on that particular day, (and they were, indeed, very severe) and that the residents of Fogo had not been so benevolent. On that day, the S.S. Wolf sank just off Fogo Island with a crew of 275 men under the command of Captain Kean. The S.S.Wolf had been built at Dundee in Scotland in 1871, and was 165.9 feet long, 28.8 feet broad, 18 feet deep. 80 horse power, 520 tons gross, 353 tons net. The owners were the Newfoundland Steam Sealing and Whaling Company, Limited, Mr. James Baird, President.