The Wreck of the SS Phyllis


SS Phyllis - Wrecked March 9, 1936

The Wreck of the SS Phyllis – March 9, 1936

On the night of March 9, 1936, Coast Guardsmen from the Port Orford Lifeboat Station rescued the crew of the steamship Phyllis

The SS Phyllis was a 215 feet long, 1266 tons displacement steam schooner built in 1917 at Aberdeen, Washington by the Aberdeen Shipbuilding Company. The ship plied the Portland-San Francisco route carrying general cargo as part of the Chamberlin Steamship Company.

The Phyllis was en route Portland from San Francisco when it encountered bad weather and began taking on water.  By the time the vessel had reached the southern Oregon coast, it had taken over four feet of water in her hold, overwhelming the capacity of the pumps. The ship’s master, Captain Victor Jacobsen, decided to run the ship ashore.  In the grounding process in the fog, the ship’s hull was torn by the rocky coastline one mile north of Humbug Mountain between Coal Point and the Redfish Rocks.

After the vessel was wrecked, the 22-man crew took to their lifeboats and headed away from the rocky shore out to smoother waters of the open ocean, firing signal flares.  The flares were seen by the Coast Guard Lifeboat Station at Port Orford.  Crews from the station put to sea and brought the crewmen to safety.


Port Running Light - SS Phyllis

The port side running light from the SS Phyllis

This light is the port side running light from the Phyllis.  It was manufactured by DeLano Brothers in San Francisco, who made ship lights prior to World War II.  Shortly before the war, however, the government changed the specification of the degrees to be used on Fresnel lenses rendering the company’s’ lenses became obsolete.  Although the company still makes marine parts, they are out of the lamp business.  The lamp, with its beautiful red Fresnel lens, is on display at the museum.