Wreck of the Chester A. Poling


The Chester A. Poling is a steel tanker that became a victim of a New England storm on January 10th, 1977. She successfully made her delivery of heating oil to Everett, MA and was returning to Newington, New Hampshire when the combination of gale force winds and thirty foot waves literally split the Poling in two. The forward motion of the Poling  and with the force of the storm caused the stern to continue pushing into the bow after the initial crack, jackknifing the boat, and causing the two ends to separate. After abandoning ship, all but one of the crew was rescued. (For more on the history of the Poling check out this website).

During the storm, the stern sank into 75′ of water, however a few years later another New England storm would move it. Now known as the Blizzard of ’78, this incredible force of nature picked the stern up and dropped it into its current position where it sits in 90′ of water.

In the years that have followed, the Poling has transformed into an artificial reef. The stern generally has good visibility by New England standards. This allows divers to enjoy not only the wreck, but the local species that have claimed it as their home. Those who are lucky might spot the resident Wolffish! However, if you don’t spot him, you’ll most likely see cunner, flounder, schools of Pollock, Sea Ravens, Lobster, Sponges, Tunicates, Hydroids, Anemones, and other encroaching critters.

Located less than 20 minutes outside of Gloucester Harbor, the stern of the Poling has become a staple in New England wreck diving. Another few miles away, her bow lies turtled in 180’ of water. While the stern is penetrable by trained divers, the bow is completely inaccessible. It still draws technical divers, but it has been described as a hunk of metal in  dark, murky water.


As previously mentioned, the Chester A. Poling lies in 90′ of water, consequently most charters require advanced certification or the presence of a dive instructor. Check out our Local New England Dive Charters page to see who might be running a trip out to this amazing dive site.

Video used with permission from Jeff Godfrey