SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF)- Federal scientists say the wreckage of a steamship that sank in San Francisco Bay in 1888 now rests near the current site of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s James Delgado announced the discovery of the ship, known as City of Chester, Wednesday. 16 people were killed when the 202 foot ship went down with 90 aboard on a foggy August Morning en route to Eureka. It sank near the mouth of the Golden Gate after colliding with a larger craft known as the Oceanic. It was the second-worst shipwreck to occur within the bay.
NOAA officials say the Chinese-American crew was vilified immediately after the deadly incident. Later evidence of extreme bravery by crew-members surfaced during the investigation into the wreck and changed public sentiment.
“Discoveries like this remind us that the waters off our shores are museums that speak to powerful events, in this case not only that tragic wreck, but to a time when racism and anger were set aside by the heroism of a crew who acted in the best traditions of the sea,” said Delgado.
The craft was found in 2013 using sonar scans. It wreckage was sitting upright in the water just north of a public pier that juts into the water from Crissy Field’s Warming Hut Cafe.
Scientists say the boat was shrouded in mud, 216 feet deep at the edge of a small undersea shoal. High-resolution sonar imagery clearly defined the hull, rising some 18 feet from the seabed, with the signature gash damage on the vessel’s port side.
NOAA says their team was not the first to find the Chester. 125 years ago, an earlier Federal agency said they located the craft using a dragging wire.
“Using our high-tech multibeam echo sounder to re-discover a wreck originally found over a century ago – by Coast Surveyors dragging a wire across the seafloor – is immensely fulfilling,” said NOAA search team leader Laura Pagano.
The Chester was actually discovered while the team was surveying another nearby shipwreck, the freighter Fernstream, which sank after a collision in 1952.