The wreckage of a passenger steamship that sank in the 19th
century after a collision in the San Francisco bay has been
found near the Golden Gate Bridge, officials say.
The steamship City of Chester was discovered by researchers
using sonar in waters about 216 feet deep. It was encased in
"The ship is very much intact," said James Delgado, director
of Maritime Heritage at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), who has investigated other shipwrecks.
A boat equipped with sonar scanners captured the first
underwater images of the City of Chester last May. 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, NOAA 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.
The 202-foot long City of Chester, which was heading up the
California coast to the city of Eureka, was nearly cut in
half by the steamer Oceanic in August 1888. Sixteen people
The collision fueled 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.
NOAA's predecessor, the US 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.
There are no plans to raise the City of Chester, which likely
is a tomb for some of its passengers, Delgado said.
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.
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."