Past Warship Wednesday alumni, the 1904-era civilian designed and built, ocean-going steel-hulled tugboat, USS Conestoga (AT-54), veteran of the Great War and mystery of the high seas since her disappearance en route to Pearl Harbor from San Francisco in March 1921, has been found.
In 2009, a NOAA survey near the Farallon Islands off San Francisco turned up a previously uncharted shipwreck in 189-foot-deep water that was investigated in 2014. By last October, with the help of an archaeologist from the Navy and, the identity was confirmed. The Navy and NOAA went public with the announcement on Wednesday after spending the last six months tracking down survivors of the lost crewmen and notifying them first.
Investigators came to the conclusion that the vessel likely sank in a storm three miles off Southeast Farallon Island just a day after she left port. The orientation of the ship suggests she was trying to make it to the shelter of the islands but was swamped in the gale.
“After nearly a century of ambiguity and a profound sense of loss, the Conestoga‘s disappearance no longer is a mystery,” said Manson Brown, deputy NOAA administrator. “We hope that this discovery brings the families of its lost crew some measure of closure and we look forward to working with the Navy to protect this historic shipwreck and honor the crew who paid the ultimate price for their service to the country.”
For more information, visit NOAA.
Smithsonian.com also has an excellent article on the discovery and effort to contact the survivors. (Hattip, Awp101, on that one.)
Rest in Peace, Fair Winds and Following Seas.