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US: Steamboat that sank in 1888 is found in San Francisco Bay

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US: Steamboat that sank in 1888 is found in San Francisco Bay


A passenger steamship that sank more than a hundred years ago has been found – and it’s still intact.

The City of Chester vessel was found in San Francisco Bay near the Golden Gate Bridge, officials said.

The 202-foot long City of Chester sank after colliding with the steamer Oceanic in August 1888. Sixteen people were killed.

James Delgado, director of Maritime Heritage at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said the ship was encased in mud and still ‘very much intact’.

The collision fuelled a racially charged backlash against the Oceanic’s mostly Chinese crew, despite their having rescued most of the City of Chester’s 106 passengers, Delgado said.

A boat equipped with sonar scanners captured the first underwater images of the City of Chester last May. But it took NOAA researchers nine months to review the data and reconstruct images of the ship, which came to rest upright at the edge of a sandbank, the organisation said in a statement.

High-resolution sonar imagery identified the hull of the ship rising 18 feet from the sea floor and a large gash on the vessel’s left side, NOAA said.

NOAA’s predecessor, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, located the sunken ship by dragging a wire from a tugboat and snagging it, Delgado said. The last reported sighting was by a diver in 1889.

NOAA is building a website to tell the story of the City of Chester and is planning a San Francisco exhibit of sonar images and historic photos of the ship later this year. But there are no plans to raise the ship.

Delgado said the tale of the City of Chester is important because it deals with timely issues of immigration and racism, and because it is a reminder of discoveries yet to be made in “the world’s largest museum.”

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