SAN FRANCISCO—Ninety-five years ago the Navy boat USS Conestoga was lost while heading to Pearl Harbor. On Wednesday, March 23, the USS Conestoga was found in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of San Francisco, according to a press release from the Navy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
On March 25, 1921 the USS Conestoga left the Golden Gate headed for Pearl Harbor, but when it never reached Hawaii, the Navy launched a massive search to find the boat. On May 17, 1921 a lifeboat with the letter “C” on its bow was found off the Mexican Coast leading the search there, but nothing else of the ship was ever recovered. The ship had left with 56 officers and crew aboard.
In 2009, the NOAA during a hydrographic survey documented an uncharted shipwreck. In September 2014, the NOAA launched a two year investigation to document historic shipwrecks in the Greater Farallones Sanctuary and Golden Gate National Recreation Area. By October 2015, the NOAA confirmed the identification and location of the Conestoga.
The Conestoga was originally built to tow coal barges for the railroad and was bought by the Navy in 1917 for World War I services. According to the NOAA and its technical and subject matter experts, and based on the location and orientation of the boat, it looks like the Conestoga sank while officers and crew tried to reach a protective cove while dealing with heavy seas. This was the last U.S. Navy ship lost in peacetime.
“Thanks to modern science and to cooperation between agencies the fate of Conestoga is no longer a mystery,” said Dennis V. McGinn, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment. “In remembering the loss of the Conestoga, we pay tribute to the crew and their families, and remember that, even in peacetime, the sea is an unforgiving environment.”
For more information visit sanctuaries.noaa.gov.