The hulking wreck has been a regular destination for divers but a riddle to historians: What ship came to rest in 85 feet of water 10 miles off New Jersey’s coastline?
Now, federal officials have an answer.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Tuesday that it has confirmed that the ship is the Robert J. Walker, an iron-hulled steamer that was doing mapping work for the US Coast Survey that sank 153 years ago after a violent collision with a 250-ton schooner.
Twenty sailors aboard the Walker died, making it the worst accident in the history of the US Coast Survey or its successor, NOAA.
The wreck was discovered by fishermen in the 1970s but its identity was a mystery until June, when a NOAA ship made a positive identification.
The Walker could be one of the last remaining shipwrecks to be identified off the New Jersey coast.