Researchers Solve 95-Year-Old Shipwreck Mystery

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons / Wikimedia Commons

On March 25, 1921, the USS Conestoga set sail from San Francisco with plans to arrive at Pearl Harbor two weeks later. The tugboat never reached its destination, and after three months of searching for the vessel and its 56 crew members in vain, the Navy declared it lost at sea. The shipwreck's location had long remained a mystery, but now, 95 years later, it's finally been revealed, The Baltimore Sun reports.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently announced that the remains of the USS Conestoga have been identified in the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, off the coast of San Francisco. Researchers first came across the wreckage in 2009, while doing a routine survey of the ocean floor around the Farallon Islands. After spending years investigating the site and comparing it to the Conestoga's original blueprints and other known shipwrecks in the area, the 170-foot structure was confirmed to be the real thing.

The question of where the ship ended up has been answered, but how it got there still remains a mystery. After the Conestoga went missing, search parties concentrated their efforts on a 300,000-square-mile area of ocean near Hawaii, in what was the Navy's largest sea-and-air search to date. No one was expecting it to turn up near the Farallon Islands, just 30 miles from where the ship launched.

Rumors circulated of mutiny onboard the ship and of the crew starving on a deserted island at the time of the disappearance, but the real-life story was likely less dramatic. Research shows that a storm with winds up to 48 miles per hour was recorded shortly after the Conestoga's departure. The tugboat was older and in need of repairs, which may have led to it taking on water and eventually sinking.

[h/t The Baltimore Sun]