Larkin A. Post
An Archaeological Investigation of the S.S. Polias: A Prototype of the World War I Concrete Ship Program.
(Under the direction of Dr. Bradley Rodgers) Department of History, November 2007
Were the World War I era ferro-concrete ships a complete and utter failure, as their short lifespans and less than idyllic fates would seem to suggest, or did this ship concept have merit? The study of the S.S. Polias seems to indicate that the concrete ships were a valid design and, if the First World War had continued, these ships would have contributed to the war effort. Historians wrongly scorn concrete ships, because they are often judged from a peacetime point of view, and not seen through the wartime historical lens for which they were conceived and constructed.
The S.S. Polias one of the two WWI era concrete ships to sink while in operation did not sink in the traditional sense but ran aground during one of the worst blizzards of the century off Port Clyde, Maine. The other concrete ship to sink in operation, the Cape Fear, sank in 125 fathoms and is completely inaccessible for maritime archaeological study. Additionally, the remains of other WWI concrete ships still exist; but all were gutted and scuttled. The facts make the Polias a unique object of study. In 1999, a maritime archaeological team visited the site and documented the ship's remains.
This thesis will focus on the Polias' history and its present condition. The text will discuss the Polias as an archaeological site, detailing how the wreck was found and surveyed. Paramount attention will be paid to the site formation process and what the site can add to maritime history of this short-lived ship type.