Amazing Discovery of USS Conestoga Missing for 95 Years

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The USS Conestoga and its 56 crew members disappeared on March 1921. For 95 years, no one knew what happened to the tugboat, making it one of the biggest mysteries in the history of the U.S. Navy — until now, that is. The NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey discovered a possible shipwreck near the Farallon Islands.

Where Is the Ship?

Maritime experts and government officials from the U.S. Navy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that Conestoga lies in 189 feet of water 3 miles away from Southeast Farallon Island. The wreck sits 30 miles west of San Francisco.

Researchers didn’t locate the wreck until 2009 when sonar imagery captured pictures of the wreck during a routine survey of the national wildlife refuge that surrounds the small, rocky islands. However, no one realized it was a shipwreck until 2012; officials had no record of a shipwreck in that area. Two years later, in 2014, crews got a chance to survey the wreck firsthand. Once divers examined the ship, it became clear that this was a decades-old mystery.

Watch an amazing video of scientists working to find the shipwreck to confirm that it’s the missing USS Conestoga.


Why Wasn’t the Conestoga Found Initially?

The Conestoga departed San Francisco’s Mare Island Naval Shipyard at 3:25 p.m. on March 25, 1921. Its scheduled destination was Pearl Harbor as a stopover on the way to American Samoa in the western Pacific Ocean. The Conestoga never arrived in Hawaii. The last communication from the ship talked about rough seas as the ship battled winds of 40 mph.

Unfortunately, the Navy didn’t start a search until a month after the ship’s departure because of the long voyage to Hawaii. The Navy launched a search of more than 300,000 square miles using 60 ships and dozens of airplanes over an 11-day span. The Navy assumed the Conestoga was relatively close to Hawaii because someone thought the ship was sighted near the islands. No sign of the ship, wreckage or the crew was ever found because the wreck was much closer to California and nowhere near Hawaii. The Navy declared the Conestoga lost with all hands on June 30, 1921.

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