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Ship Elements

The wreck of the SS Republic lies oriented on a southeast to northwest axis line in the waters of the Atlantic Gulf Stream. Study of the shipwreck structure is very important to assess how it has deteriorated and been preserved after it landed on the seabed. In this case, the evidence suggests that the Republic struck the hard pan seabed on its starboard bow and settled on its starboard side, where the forces of nature and marine life have subsequently eroded the ship into its present state.

Heavily broken and displaced sections of hull timbers and framing, and sections of deck planking, are scattered across the bow area. Moving astern, as the ship’s sides and decks deteriorated over time, crates of cargo from the forward cargo hold fell onto the piles of coal that had been spilled out of the coal bunker after the bow and forward section of the ship struck the seabed.

Most of the engine room, consisting of two boilers, a walking beam engine, paddlewheels and associated fittings and machinery, had collapsed inward. The two boilers had been displaced forward of their mountings and were in a poor state of preservation. The vertical walking beam engine was fairly intact and preserved upright. The hostile Atlantic Gulf Stream environment had degraded much of the ship’s wood, and most of the ironwork was also in very poor condition. All that was left of the 28-foot paddle wheels was the iron framework.

Little of the original steamship's fittings survived. Having collapsed out of the ship’s eroding timber, portholes were discovered on the seabed and 17 were recovered.