Navy Tugboat Found 95 Years Later
NOAA, or the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration says it has found a navy boat that's been missing for 95 years. The federal agency, along with the U.S. Navy announced the USS Conestoga had been discovered in California, off the coast of San Francisco.
The fleet tugboat went missing in 1921 with 56 crew members on board. Officials believe it sank while trying to dodge a storm. Now, almost a century later -- the wreckage has been located, because of sonar images.
Sonar is a method that uses sound waves to locate and detect objects underwater. Jonathan Bloom has more on the Conestoga discovery.
"Ping and there -there's the - ping!"
IT STARTED WHEN SCIENTISTS WERE "MAPPING" THE OCEAN FLOOR -- AND FOUND SOMETHING.
"A late 19th century or early 20th century tugboat."
A "BIG" TUGBOAT -- 170 FEET LONG -- CLEARLY MADE FOR THE OPEN OCEAN.
IT DIDN'T MATCH ANY CIVILIAN RECORDS... BUT HISTORIANS FOUND THIS:
"A navy ship called Conestoga that had gone missing with a crew of 56."
BY ALL ACCOUNTS, THE CONESTOGA HAD VANISHED OFF HAWAII.
BUT WHAT IF IT NEVER MADE IT THAT FAR?
THIS WRECK WAS NEAR THE FARALLON ISLANDS -- JUST OUTSIDE THE GOLDEN GATE.
RESEARCHERS RETURNED WITH AN UNDERWATER ROBOT FOR A CLOSER LOOK.
"We identified a 3 in, 50 cal naval gun. In the photographs at sd, we have the gunnery crew standing next to that same gun, so it was our smoking gun."
"The Conestoga looked a lot like another tugboat, the Hercules, that's now permanently docked here in San Francisco Bay. In fact, researchers used this boat to help identify what they found on the ocean floor."
"These ships like our Hercules at the park are very narrow, these tugs."
RESEARCHERS NOW BELIEVE THE CONESTOGA SANK IN THE SEVERE WEATHER THAT AREA'S KNOWN FOR.
"Winds over 100mph, currents many many knots... "
A FRIGHTFUL WAY TO DIE... FOR THE 56 SAILORS ON BOARD.
THE RESEARCH TEAM... HELD A MEMORIAL ON THE WATER...
"Sea captains young and old, and of the mates and of all intrepid sailors."
AND ANOTHER ON LAND FOR THE MEN'S FAMILIES.
THE SHIPWRECK IS NOW A GRAVESITE.
BUT IT'S MORE THAN THAT.
IT'S BEEN TAKEN OVER BY THE COLORFUL CREATURES OF THE DEEP OCEAN -- FISH, EELS, EVEN A GIANT OCTOPUS.
"It's a beautiful reef. And in the face of death there's new life."
The Conestoga was the last U.S. navy ship to be lost without a trace in peacetime. It will remain underwater. Conestoga is protected by the Sunken Military Craft Act of 2004, which prohibits unauthorized disturbance of sunken military vessels or planes owned by the U.S. government, as well as foreign sunken military craft that lie within U.S. waters.
Website Article: NOAA, National Marine Sanctuaries, NOAA solves disappearance mystery of USS Conestoga
Website Article: Exploratorium, How Does Sonar Work?
Video: PBS LearningMedia, Design Squad Nation, Submarine Sonar - Lt. Darrin Barber
Diagram: Science Online, Sonar Techniques