The wreckage of the USS Conestoga, a Navy tug that also served as a minesweeper and fleet tender in World War I, has been found off the coast of California 95 years after the ship was lost with all hands. It was found 2,000 miles from where it was presumed lost.


Conestoga was laid down in 1903 in Maryland and launched in Nov. 1904 as a civilian tug. In 1917, the Navy purchased and commissioned the ship for minesweeping duties.

The USS Conestoga's 3-inch, 50-caliber deck gun. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

The mount, combined with distinct features of the engines and boilers, finally allowed the Navy to say with certainty that they had found their lost ship, 2,000 miles from the original search area.

Damage to the ship suggests that it encountered a sudden storm soon after it left the California coast to cross the Pacific. Naval researchers believe that the ship was heading to the Farallon Islands to escape the storm when the rudder was damaged and it lost the ability to steer. The bilge pumps also failed, dooming the ship.

The ship's wreckage and the remains of the 56 sailors lost when it sank are now protected by the Sunken Military Craft Act. Officials have said they have no plans to recover the wreckage or otherwise disturb it.