Dominator Shipwreck

Date of Sinking: March 13, 1961 
Rig/Type:WWII Liberty Ship (Freighter) 
Cause of Sinking: Stranding 
Length: 441' 
Breadth: 57' 
Tons: 7,176 
Cargo: Wheat and beef 
Location: Rocky Point, Palos Verdes 
The Dominator stranded while enroute from Vancouver, B.C. to Los Angeles with a cargo of wheat and beef. For two anxious days, the crew stayed onboard in hopes of refloating the vessel. However, the efforts of the Coast Guard and tugboats were unable to pull the Dominator into deeper water, and high swells and winds forced her higher onto the rocks. On the 15th, hopes for saving the ship were given up and the crew left the ship.

The incident attracted hundreds of sightseerer, eager to see the shipwreck. Once the crew left the vessel, would be salvors attempted to board and claim the wreck, some of which had to be rescued from the stranded hulk.

Taken from another website: You can also dive the wreck, but only in dead calm conditions. There were divable wrecks off Catalina, but around Palos Verdes Point there's the ferry Avalon in 80 feet of water, the Newbern in 20 feet off Long Point (not much left of the wood hull after 100 years), and the fishing barge Gratia.

Those Liberty ships like the 'Dom were all 440 feet long so you'll see the outline of a big ship. From land you might be disappointed at what's left, and the small portion of the stern still visible and climbable above the water line (but you know, when are we ever completely satisfied with a wreck, a ruin, or a ghost town? I'd probably only be satisfied if I saw dancing skeletons with swords and tri-corner hats). Don't be disappointed. Like most of these tourist recommendations, it depends on your mood and interests and whatever else you got going in the area. Probably not worth driving from Kansas to see. . . . but the ruin comes with an entertaining rumor with the narrative structure of a nursery rhyme, that after the Dominator (DOMINATOR!) ran aground, its cargo of wheat got wet; since the wheat got wet, it split the hull; since the hull got split, the wheat spilled out; since the wheat spilled out it made an immense porridge around the wreck. Insects came to eat the porridge, and lobsters came to eat the insects. And there are lobsters there still. And maybe you'll meet some like-minded explorers.

First Hand Account of the Salvage Operation

Here is a 21-page story sent in by a reader (Thanks Scott!). It was written by his grandfather, who was salvaging the Dominator. He later sold the salvage rights to a man named Alvin Kidman, who tried to salvage more steel, brass, etc., but was pretty unsuccessful. Hope you find this interesting. Story in MS Word Doc format.

My picture from circa 1986-1988: