Navy tugboat lost for a century found off California coast

Thursday, March 24, 2016
The USS Conestoga (AT-54) is seen in San Diego, circa 1921.
U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command via AP

WASHINGTON -- A Navy tugboat that sank nearly a century ago has been found by a team of government researchers off the San Francisco coast, officials announced Wednesday.

The USS Conestoga departed San Francisco Bay for Pearl Harbor in March 1921. But the boat never made it to Hawaii, and her 56-man crew was declared lost. The boat was never found, despite a search that covered hundreds of thousands of square miles and was the biggest of its time.

Officials from the Navy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the tug has been found about 30 miles off the coast, near the Farallon Islands.

The U.S. Navy bought the Conestoga in September 1917 after the United States entered World War I. It carried out towing duties along the Atlantic coast, and at the end of the war, it was attached to Naval Base No. 13, Azores. After the war, it was assigned to harbor tug duty at Norfolk, Virginia. It was reclassified USS Conestoga AT 54 in 1920. It was ordered to duty as a station ship in American Samoa but disappeared after departing San Francisco.

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